Is it commercially viable to use dicyandiamide on a dairy farm in south-western Victoria? - Tim Huggins

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  • 1. Timothy Huggins MSLE, The University of Melbourne Is it commercially viable to use dicyandiamide on a dairy farm in south-western Victoria? Co-authors: Kevin Kelly (DPIV), Helen Suter (UoM), Richard Eckard (UoM & DPIV), Richard Rawnsley (TIAR)
  • 2. Short answer
    • No. Not at this stage.
  • 3. Outline
    • Aims and objectives
    • Background
    • Dairy Greenhouse Accounting Framework
    • Average south-western Victorian farm
    • Results
    • Summary and conclusions
  • 4. Aims and objectives
    • Decreased nitrous oxide emissions
    • Increased pasture dry matter grown
    • Economically feasible
    • Barriers to adoption
  • 5. Nitrous oxide Dairy 6.5 t CO 2 e/cow 10.2 t CO 2 e/ha Adapted from Eckard 2008 and Christie 2009
    • N 2 O = 4% of Australia’s GHG emissions
    • Predominantly produced by agriculture – 86%
    • Major sources are N fertiliser management, animal waste management, and soil cultivation
    • Also need to include indirect production (N0 3 - leaching, run-off and NH 4 + volatilisation)
  • 6. The power of urine
    • Animal urine accounts for 2/3 of the N 2 O from animal production
    • Urine patch = approx. 1000 kg N/ha equivalent
    • Urine patches cover 10-30% of farm in 12 months
    • Eg. If urine covers 20% of farm at 1000 kg N/ha = 200 kg N/ha on top of 106 kg N applied.
    • Can be huge excess of N in soil available for N 2 O production – distribution issue
  • 7. DCD, nitrous oxide, and the N cycle NH 2 OH
    • NO 3 - can be lost through leaching or as nitrous oxide
    • Indirect losses also reduced
    • DCD lifespan depends on soil T, moisture, pH, O.M.
    • Nitrosomonas goes back to work after 2-3 months
    • 10 kg a.i. Applied twice per year
  • 8. Dairy Greenhouse Accounting Framework
    • Based on Australian National Greenhouse Gas
    • Inventory methods
    • Farm Monitor Project (DPIV), Dairy Situation and
    • Outlook Report (DA)
    DMD = 78% CP = 23% DM Source: Australian Methodology for the Estimation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 2006
  • 9. Average south-western Victorian dairy farm
  • 10. Results
    • Cost of DCD application $165/ha
    • 2 options to cover this cost
      • Reduction in nitrous oxide ($4.80/ha)
      • Increase in pasture DM ($70-100/ha)
    • Total return approx. $105/ha
    • Nett result: $165 - $105 = -$60/ha
    • More detail....
  • 11. Reducing nitrous oxide - C trading pays
  • 12. Increasing pasture dry matter – milk pays
    • What is possible?
    • Likely response 0-35% increase from 2 applications (de Klein and Eckard, 2008)
    • Eco-N (Ravensdown) advertised as 20% increase = 560 kg DM in our case (7.6% across paddock)
    • 560 kg DM = 48 kg MS (0.08 kg MS/kg DMI)
    • 48 kg MS = $216/ha @ $4.95/kg MS
    • Nett return = $216 - $165 = $50/ha
    • BUT... we know that there could be issues with:
      • Utilisation (not 100%, probably 60-70% but what about substitution?)
      • Extra costs associated with turning that pasture into milk (look at marginal response per litre)
  • 13. Our trial
    • 6 commercial dairy farms in South-west Vic (range in soil, temperature and rainfall)
    • Spring (2009) and Autumn (2010) applications
    • Control vs Urine either at start or 1 month later – all repeated with and without DCD (6 treatments in total)
    • Autumn 2010 schedule:
      • T1. Nil urine applied.
      • T2. Nil urine applied + DCD applied April.
      • T3. Urine applied May.
      • T4. DCD applied April, Urine applied May.
      • T5. Urine applied April.
      • T6. Urine + DCD applied April.
    • 4 replicates of each treatment in RCBD, excised from grazing
    • Soil testing, nitrous oxide measurements, pasture DM harvesting
  • 14. Increasing pasture dry matter – our results
    • What did we find?
    • 0-15% increase in pasture DM in urine patches
    • 3 farms in each season with significant increases (but not the same 3) and mostly in response to the urine at the start
    • Farms with significant results all had different soil types, rainfall patterns and N fertiliser usage (background N would be different)
    • Only in the second season was there an increase from DCD on control = idea of what happens between urine patches. This farm applied 266 kg N during the season – potential DCD impact on the fertiliser
    • Across the whole paddock result = 2.5-3.75% increase in pasture DM (180-270 kg DM/ha)
    • Nett return of $70-$100 per hectare without considering additional costs and assuming 100% utilisation
  • 15. Summary and conclusions
    • None of the potential benefits are big enough at this stage – need to show improvement in production/profitability
    • Factors that would increase viability
      • Future research showing larger increases in pasture DM
      • Increased fertiliser price
      • Reduced DCD price
      • Need ETS rather than a C price
  • 16. © Copyright The University of Melbourne 2008