Case studies captured farmer experience in:
- Reducing Nitrogen (N) inputs (mainly supplements)
- Using off-paddock facilities to capture urinary N at critical times and protect critical source areas (soils, gullies and swales).
Farmers' key learnings
- Focusing on pasture is important, either to protect it from damage or use it as efficiently as possible.
- P21 principles kept costs down and helped prepare farms to meet upcoming environmental regulations.
To make the most of pasture, farmers:
- Had a feed budget
- Carried out regular farm walks to assess residuals
- Were prepared to move cows outside of milking time to achieve good residuals.
Feed supply and demand
To ensure feed supply and demand was matched, farmers efficiently applied nitrogen fertiliser to the grass, either:
- Little and often after the cows, or
- at the most beneficial times of the year (summer and autumn).
Crops were used to increase feed supply when ryegrass growth was slow due too dry or cold.
Farmers protected soils from pugging or being washed into waterways by using:
- Infrastructure to temporally remove cows when soils got too wet, or to completely remove cows from winter crops
- Where possible, selected paddocks that were not too steep or near water ways and grazed towards the waterway.
Identifying and managing critical source areas (gullies and swales) on farm and trialling infrastructure use to capture urinary N at critical times of year.
Reducing N inputs (fertiliser and imported supplements) and capturing urinary N at critical times of the year with the use of a covered fed pad.
Operating a simple system by doing the basics very well, maximising milk production from pasture and minimising pugging damage.
Focusing on pasture for financial and environmental success.
Making all supplements on farm and avoiding nutrient loss when grazing.
Aiming to operate a system-1 to 2 farm with minimal soil damage and reduced N leaching.
Reducing nitrogen inputs into the farm system. Increasing pasture harvested and reducing imported supplements to save costs.
Utilising pasture first and minimising the amount of imported supplements.
Protecting wet soils and reducing reliance on winter crops by using loose housed deep-litter barns.
Using infrastructure to reduce dependence on winter cropping.
Aiming to run a simple low cost system-1 farm by reducing fertiliser and imported supplements and matching feed supply to demand.