How Low Can We Go: Nitrogen in Dairy Rations- Mike McMahon


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Mike McMahon presented this material during DAIReXNET's March 7, 2011 webinar on nitrogen in dairy rations. He covered the practical applications of nitrogen management on a dairy farm.

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  • This material was presented as part of DAIReXNET's March 7, 2011 webinar entitled 'How Low Can We Go: Nitrogen in Dairy Rations'. The recorded versions of all of our webinars are located at
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How Low Can We Go: Nitrogen in Dairy Rations- Mike McMahon

  1. 1. McMahon’s EZ Acres Farm overview<br />McMahon’s EZ-Acres<br />Owned by two brothers<br />Located in Central New York<br />Soils are a mix of<br />Deep well-drained gravel <br />Valley floor<br />Aquifer for over 50,000 people<br />Shallow, poorly drained, acidic clays<br />DEC protected brown-trout stream flows through all of valley land<br />25% of land base in Syracuse water shed<br />675 cows and typically 545 heifers<br />Edie<br />Pete<br />Mike<br />
  2. 2. MUNICIPAL WELL<br />Houses/Fields/Manure<br />North to Skaneateles - City of Syracuse unfiltered water supply–> 2 miles<br />NYS protected Brown Trout Stream<br />
  3. 3. Balancing Imports and Exports of Nutrients on the Farm<br />More nutrients (N,P,K) are imported onto the farm than are exported.<br />In 2006 - For every 100 lbs. of N, P and K coming onto our farm only 28 lbs. of N, 34 lbs. of P and 29 lbs. of K leave the farm in form of milk and animals. <br />The remainder – 72 lbs. of N, 66 lbs. P and 71 lbs. K are accumulating on the farm or being lost to the environment.<br />Losses to the environment = air & water quality issues<br />
  4. 4. Sources of Imported Nutrients<br />Greatest source of imported nutrients is purchased feeds<br />
  5. 5. One approach – Minimize imports, maximize use of existing nutrients by recycling on the farm<br />
  6. 6. FIELD CROPSMaximize production of homegrown feed<br />.<br />Match the crop to the soil resources. <br />Low yield fields rotated to Intensively Managed Grass<br />17 tons/acre eased forage inventory concerns<br /> Voracious “sinks” for liquid manure<br /> 95% of original IMGs continue high yield<br />
  7. 7. Low level application of up to 8000 gallons/acre<br />
  8. 8. 2006 – New Manure Storage<br />m<br />3.2 Million gallons – approx. 6 months<br />
  9. 9. Why Store Manure?<br />Maximize use of on-farm nutrients<br />Reduce use of purchased fertilizers<br />Flexibility to time spreading to prevent potential runoff<br />Can apply when plants have greatest uptake potential<br />Capturing more N by incorporating into soil at time of application<br />Potential to reduce air emissions –cover.<br />
  10. 10. Fall cover crop<br />
  11. 11. Proactive approaches:<br />Stored manure for corn crop immediately incorporated<br />Manure sampling (CAFO requirement)<br />Soil Testing – each field every 3 years<br />PSNT’s and “customized” fertilizers tailored to crop needs<br />Voluntary well and stream monitoring<br />Clean, well-maintained farmstead –”pollution is perception”<br />
  12. 12. With enough manure, we can grow grass anywhere!<br />