Partners Networking to Advance South Island Dairying

Soil Nutrient Management Project

    Soil Nutrient Mgmt Project  

 From left to right Jeremy Casey, Neal Kinsey and Kim Solly. Photo courtesy of the NZ Dairy Exporter magazine.

Soil Nutrient Management Project

The project is focussed on the monitoring and scientific measurement of the changes which are occurring on two Methven dairy farms.  

Methven dairy farmers Jeremy Casey and Kim Solly, had become interested in the Albrecht-Kinsey “biological” approach as a means of sustainably managing their newly-converted dairy farms. In the absence of information on the impacts of this system in the whole-farm context, they elected to manage only one of their pair of “matched” farms under the Albrecht-Kinsey (A-K) biological system, while continuing to manage the other farm according to conventional “good agricultural practice”.

They sought help with monitoring and evaluating the relative performance of the two systems.  Since the concept had attracted significant interest among local farmers and the broader farming community, Jeremy and Kim considered it important to ensure that the evaluation was conducted according to acceptable research protocols, and that environmental, production and economic outcomes were appropriately monitored. 

Soil nutrient management on each farm complied with the requirements of the relevant soil nutrient management system from the time the properties were purchased in 2011; pasture growth and composition had been monitored; and from the beginning of the 2013/14 season the herd was randomised across the two properties at the same stocking rate.

Farmers, rural professionals and scientists who want to understand the implications of adopting ‘biological’ fertiliser management strategies drive the project.   Many of these approaches are promoted on the basis of research which is not supported by traditional scientists, and there is interest from all parties in collecting information that can be more readily understood. 

Objectives

The project is a world-first, whole-farm evaluation of biological farming, and its use on dairy farms. Its objectives are:

  • The provision of robust information on the potential farm-level impacts of “biological” soil nutrient management practices to provide a sound basis for decisions about changing soil nutrient management practices in order to meet the water quality limits required under the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management and National Objectives Framework. 
Key findings

After 7 years (from 2012/2013 season) of alternate soil nutrient management and over 5 years of monitor pasture and animal production outcomes of the project show:

  • Fertiliser costs were higher on the A-K farm
  • There was little effect of fertilser regime on pasture production
  • The A-K farm applied on average 20% less N fertiliser and grew similar DM as the conventional farm
  • The A-K farm had higher clover content than the conventional farm – largely as a result of lower N fertiliser
  • The A-K farm had fewer animal metabolic problems during spring and did not need to use Mg supplements post-calving.  The conventional farm required further mineral supplements post calving
  • Lower health and reproduction costs offset some of the additional fertiliser costs of the A-K farm.
Upcoming events:

Mid – Season Field Day - Backtrack Dairies

Soil Nutrient Management in Dairy Farm Systems

Friday 13 December  

10:00am - 1:00pm

(Including Morning Tea and Lunch)

Backtrack Dairies – Kim Solly and Jeremy Cassey 

815 Back Track Rakaia SN 37240

At this Field Day we will discuss:

  • Key findings, learnings and farmer reflections over the 5 years involved in the project.
  • What are the soil Measurements taken during the season telling us?
  • A update from DairyNZ on the Partner farm Network.

 

For further details check out DairyNZ events web page or contact:

Racheal Bryant 
Lincoln University
021 185 9338
racheal.bryant@lincoln.ac.nz 

Stuart Moorhouse
DairyNZ Consulting Office – Mid Canterbury
027 513 7200
Stuart.Moorhouse@dairynz.co.nz  

 

Previous Reports

Click here to download a copy of the manuscript summarising the first six years of the Albrecht-Kinsey approach, published in the New Zealand Journal of Animal Science and Production (Website: www.nzsap.org)

Click here for the NZIPIM presentation given at their annual conference in Christchurch (5-6 August 2019)

Click here to view the end of season field day presentation 2018/19 season
Click here to view the end of season field day presentation to stakeholders for 2017/18 season
Click here to view the end of season report to stakeholders for 2016/17 season
Click here to view the end of season field day presentation 2016/17 season
Click here to view Richard Gillespies 2017 - Soil nutrient management in dairy farming: a systems comparison - year 4 report
Click here to view the season to date field day presentation for December 2016
Click here to view the end of season field day presentation for 2014/15 season
Click here to view the December 2015 Soil nutrient management in dairy farming systems presentation - From the ground up.

For further Information about the project please contact: Racheal Bryant, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Science, Lincoln University.