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Research Call

DAFM Reference

Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2011 11 S 105 Teagasc (AFBI, QUB, UCD) € 610,165

Project Title:

Defining optimal pasture composition and its relationship with management factors in order to maximise dairy and beef productivity, whilst minimising nitrous oxide emissions (urine N output), methane emissions and product taints.

Project Coordinator:

Dr Aidan Moloney

Project Abstract

This work addresses problems of high urine N output in grazing systems that are intensifying as envisaged in Harvest 2020. It will identify grassland managements that maximise intake and productivity, whilst minimising the output and consequences of urine N. There have been few studies of nitrogen partitioning with grass-based diets, which are difficult and costly. In order to target nitrogen partitioning studies and minimise costs, we will assemble and analyse datasets from previous studies to understand its components: herbage composition (what other feed components change when herbage N alters? how are these relationships affected by management?), and herbage intake (how does herbage N affect feed intake?). We will also collate and analyse nitrogen partitioning data from studies with other diets (mainly silages; what factors affect the quantity and concentration of N in urine?). These studies, together with whole-farm modelling, will identify optimal grassland management practices to be evaluated in nitrogen partitioning studies with lactating cows (Hillsborough) and beef cattle (Grange) offered cut herbage across the grazing season. We will check for effects on methane production (chamber measurements) and milk flavour (headspace analysis), and use cutting-edge metagenomics and metabolomics to study effects at the rumen and tissue levels. We will forge links with a parallel Stimulus project proposal on nitrous oxide emissions from urine. Optimal grassland management practices will be evaluated using spot urine sampling on commercial/demonstration farms, providing a platform for dissemination to advisers and farmers, and new predictors for urine N will be incorporated into models of GHG emissions.

Final Report:

Not available yet.