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Cows greener than greens

06/12/2018

An inconvenient truth

Homepaddock

Is growing greens a greener option than grazing cows? Glen Herud says no:

. . .The way we get excess nitrogen from dairy farming is via the cow’s urine. Urine contains 69 per cent nitrogen. The greater the concentration of cows per hectare the more N leaching you get (more or less).

Averaged out, dairy farms leach about 60kg of nitrogen per hectare per year.

Surprisingly, nitrogen fertiliser does not contribute greatly to N leaching on dairy farms. This is because farmers (generally speaking) only put on what the plants can absorb.

Fertiliser is expensive and it costs time and money to apply it. Farmers have both financial and environmental incentives to apply no more than is absolutely needed.

  Many people will be surprised to know that market gardening leaches three times more nitrogen than dairy farming.

There are plenty of papers out there showing leaching of over…

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