- Agronomic: corn, sorghum (milo), grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing - continuous, grazing management, manure management, mineral supplements, winter forage
- Crop Production: continuous cropping, cover crops, double cropping, nutrient cycling
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: feasibility study, whole farm planning
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
- Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, soil physics, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, partnerships, sustainability measures
Sustainable solutions for agriculture and environmental management on dairy farms require improved nutrient use efficiencies across the entire farm, both for the animals and the cropland. However, when it comes to whole farm nutrient management, nutrient cycling can be very complex and management tools available to farmers often focus on one aspect of management only (e.g. milk urea nitrogen to evaluate crude protein ration management; corn stalk nitrate test to evaluate nitrogen management for com, etc.). In an adaptive approach for whole farm nutrient management, records are kept in such a way that one can assess the nutrient status of the whole farm, pinpoint the areas where improvements can be made, and then track the progress of those improvements from year to year. A whole-farm nutrient mass balance (NMB) assessment can help farmers and farm advisors do this effectively and efficiently. A NMB is the difference between the amounts of N, P, and K imported onto dairy farms as feed, fertilizer, animals, and bedding, and exported via milk, animals, crops, and manure. We can express a NMB per tillable acre to indicate the potential for recycling nutrients in the land base, an environmental indicator,or per cwt milk, a milk production efficiency indicator. Large positive NMBs per acre suggest high risk of nutrient losses to the environment, while large positive NMBs per cwt reflect low nutrient use efficiencies, and potential economic loss for the farm as well. Negative NMBs (resulting from exports exceeding imports) reflect mining of soil P and K resources, and will eventually reduce crop yields. Annual NMB assessments give farmers a chance to compare the farm against peers in the same milk production group, and to evaluate the impact of management changes on nutrient use efficiency and production. Recently, research has led to the identification of the optimum operational zone for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Farms that manage these nutrients in the optimum operational zone recycle nutrients on their land base and produce milk efficiently. Here we propose to develop curriculum and teach farm advisors (crop consultants, nutritionists, extension) the ins and outs of the NMB assessment. Twenty farm advisors will learn to conduct whole farm nutrient balances (NMBs) for dairy farms. Eight will adopt use of NMB assessments, conduct balances and discuss results with two dairy farmers each. Ten farmers will conduct the NMB a second year and show intent to continue beyond the project.
Performance targets from proposal:
Twenty farm advisors will learn to conduct whole farm nutrient balances (NMBs) for dairy farms. Eight will adopt use of NMB assessments, conduct balances and discuss results with two dairy farmers each. Ten farmers will conduct the NMB a second year and show intent to continue beyond the project.