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Nitrogen balance

The Nitrogen Balance of a farm system shows the difference between nitrogen inputs and Nitrogen outputs.

In dairy systems, nitrogen inputs (nitrogen in fertiliser and supplements) generally exceed Nitrogen outputs in products (milk, meat) therefore this metric is commonly referred to as Nitrogen Surplus.

Nitrogen Balance is a simple means of reporting the surplus of nitrogen as a function of farm management. You can use this metric to understand how efficiently your farm system is utilising imported nitrogen and explore how reducing the rate of imported Nitrogen effects production and profitability.

Modelling from DairyNZ shows, by reducing fertiliser and feed inputs and becoming more efficient, farmers can maintain production and reduce costs.

Nitrogen Inputs May include:

  • Nitrogen Fertiliser

  • The nitrogen content of imported/purchased supplements

  • The Nitrogen content of Meat (stock in)

Nitrogen Output may include:

  • The Nitrogen content of Milk (calculated as a proportion of protein)

  • The Nitrogen content of Meat (stock out)

  • The Nitrogen content of exported/sold supplements

Read more about Nitrogen Balance as an indicator on the DairyNZ website.