Keywords: Nutrient Management Planning, NMP, nutrient analysis, fertilisers, animal feed, manures, knowledge transfer, selenium.
Modern dairy farming in temperate grassland areas has seen a significant increase in intensification in the past decade with an increase in milk production per cow on average of approximately 10%. Inorganic nutrients, primarily as fertiliser and feed concentrates, have been a key component in driving this increased productivity. The rising cost of nutrients and their potential environmental impact has led to increased focus on the need for dairy farmers to implement nutrient management planning (NMP) as a management tool to improve nutrient use efficiency. To date, much of this focus has been on the use of limited forms of NMP to help farmers demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements such as the Nitrate Vulnerable Zone Action Programme under the Nitrates Directive. There is a danger of NMP being seen as centred around the management of nitrogen to meet environmental objectives.
Nutrient management in practice tends to be segmented into fertiliser, manures and feeds but for NMP to be properly effective, and for it to achieve the combined goals of financial and environmental benefits it needs to be integrated into a single nutrient cycle on farm. The milk industry in the UK has identified a clear need for NMP to be simplified, adopt an integrated approach, have a clear delivery mechanism and to be of direct financial benefit to farmers. This will require farmers, those who supply them with and advise them on nutrient inputs and those involved in developing nutrient management tools to work more closely together.
Peter R Scott, Carrs Fertilisers, Old Croft, Stanwix, Carlisle, Cumbria CA3 9BA, UK.
32 pages, 6 figures, 6 tables, 23 references.