In NZ pastoral farming nitrate leaching from urine patches poses a big environmental risk. The majority of nitrate leaching on dairy farms originates from urine patches. Nitrate concentration in urine patches far exceeds plant requirements and therefore results in leaching of excess nitrate into water bodies.
Pastoral Robotics Limited has developed technology called Spikey® which is able to detect urine patches in pastures post grazing. This technology allows targeted application of products which can inhibit nitrification or stimulate pasture growth utilising excess nitrogen in the patch.
The farm is 51ha and milks 180 jersey cows which is managed in 2 herds and milk collected separately. The farm and herd were randomised into two in June 2020, with each farmlet being allocated to a specific herd. The Spikey® farmlet is treated by Spikey® with Nitrostop™, nitrification inhibitors.
The trial aims to measure the farm system impacts from an economic and environmental perspective of reduced leaching and growing more grass from treating urine patches through Spikey® technology at a commercial farm scale. The purpose of the farm system trial is inform future farm models of the impact which is useful for regulators and farm businesses.
Con-currently a bank of 15 lysimeters has been installed on the Stratford Demonstration farm to specifically measure different inhibitors efficacy, this will add to the range of options that can be applied to urine spots which is responsible for 80 % of nitrate leaching.