Long-standing questions around application of nutrients other than N, P and K (such as Mg and Ca), to meet either plant or soil requirements have been tested for the first time at a commercial dairy-farm-scale. Two dairy farms with similar soil type and soil management history were used to compare physical and financial productivity when the fertiliser regime followed either a conventional plant requirement approach (CON) or an Albrecht-Kinsey soil requirement approach (A-K). A longitudinal study commencing in 2012/13 included measurements of pasture and animal production, fertility and quality, and animal health. After six years there are no apparent impacts of fertiliser regime on milk yield or pasture growth, although less N fertiliser was applied on the A-K farm and this farm grew more clover. Though not statistically significant, there were more in-calf cows and fewer metabolic problems pre- and post- calving in the A-K farm system compared with the CON system. Setting up and maintaining the soils at target parameters cost more (+$532/ha fertiliser costs in the first year; +$197 in the last two years), but animal health costs were on average $56/ha/yr lower.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 79, Palmerston North, 100-102, 2019
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