Nimmo J.,50 Pictou Rd |
Lynch D.H.,50 Pictou Rd |
Owen J.,Agriculture and Agri Food Canada
Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems | Year: 2013
Legume biological N fixation (BNF) is a large source of uncertainty in farm N budgets. This study sought to quantify the BNF-N input to two whole farm nitrogen budgets and establish a simple and accurate method for incorporating BNF values as inputs in whole farm N budgets. Nitrogen inputs and outputs as well as flows of N between animal and crop production components were determined for a dairy farm in New Brunswick (NB) and Prince Edward Island (PE) over a two year period. The 15N natural abundance method was used to determine the %N derived from the atmosphere (%Ndfa) through BNF at both sites. Red clover (Trifolium pratense) at the PE site derived 77 % of its N from BNF and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) collected at both the PE and NB farms derived 72 % of its N from BNF. Total BNF-N present in legume biomass from mixed forage fields measured with the 15N natural abundance method ranged from 39 to 116 kg N ha-1 year-1. A legume dry matter conversion model adjusted with %Ndfa and %N of red clover and alfalfa samples from both farm sites was selected to estimate BNF-N inputs from mixed forage fields on the farms. Averaged across the entire cropland area at each farm site, the BNF-N inputs ranged from 27 to 52 kg N ha-1 year-1. The farmgate BNF-N inputs are low in comparison to other studies, possibly due to low legume contents in forage fields. BNF accounted for 18-29 % of farmgate N inputs at the farms. Surpluses of N found at both farm sites ranged from 98 to 135 kg N ha-1 year-1, typical to the whole farm N budgets of similar dairy farms. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.