2012 Progress on Whole Farm Nutrient Management Project (2012-2015)

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2012 Annual Report


The focal issue identified by the association’s members from the survey carried out by

PCBFA, was that in order for the Peace region beef industry to remain sustainable, the industry needed to decrease their economic and environmental risk. Livestock producers need to examine their production systems from a farming systems approach. The systems approach will enable an in-depth examination of farm nutrient loading and utilization, cost/benefit analysis, and the potential environmental impacts of beef cattle production systems and their components. The Whole Farm Nutrient Management Project is from 2012 to 2015.


Objectives:

  • Create awareness of nutrients, nutrient distribution, collection and management on farm, and to increase distribution and utilization of farm resources

  • Development of a site-specific nutrient management plan

  • Understand and gain working knowledge of manure and general fertility management in forage and crop production for greenfeed or swath grazing systems


What's so important about nutrients (particularly nitrogen?)

  • Problems with N and other nutrient deficiencies

  • Problems with excessive nutrients

Forage Production Systems Guidelines:

  • Accounting for sources of N, P and K

  • How N credits change given different field conditions (e.g. wintering and bale grazed sites, soil types)

Methods:

PCBFA is working with the following cow-calf producers (see table below) on 6 beef cattle production systems for this project:

Notes were taken on the history and management of selected sites. For each site, 2-10 acres are being used for the studies.


Baseline data collection (July—August, 2012)

The baseline data collected between July and August, 2012 include the following for each project site (or selected production systems):

  • Soil nutrients & nutrient leaching in 0 to 24 inches soil depths—using the GPS on the GreenSeeker, reference points were selected for soil sampling areas. Field nutrient mapping with GreenSeeker on a stockpiled forage Paddock (0 to 6 inches soil depth).

  • Forage yield & quality, and brix (sugar) level.

  • Field nutrient mapping with GreenSeeker.

  • Water quality issues (to start in early spring of 2013).

The above measurements will continue in 2013 and 2014.
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