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Environmental impacts of grazed pastures

Eriksen, J.; Ledgard, S.; Lou, J.; Schils, R. and Rasmussen, J. (2010) Environmental impacts of grazed pastures. In: Schnyder, H. (Ed.) Grassland Science in Europe 15, pp. 880-890.

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Summary

Large nitrogen (N) surplus and return of excreta-N in localised patches at high N rates in intensively grazed pasture systems markedly increases the risk of N losses to waterways and the atmosphere. Here are described the main routes of N input to grazed pastures, losses via N leaching, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions. Furthermore farm N budgets and N use efficiency in relation to management strategies that can be applied to reduce N losses are discussed. Nitrate leaching increases exponentially with increased inputs and is closely related to urine patches, which also influence the leaching of dissolved organic N. High N2O emission rates in grazed pastures are related to fertiliser-N or N in excreta combined with compaction by animal treading. Grazing may considerably reduce CH3 emissions compared to indoor housing of cows. Pastures are occasionally cultivated due to sward deterioration followed by a rapid and extended period of N mineralization, contributing to an increased potential for losses. Good management of the pasture (e.g. reduced fertiliser input and reduced length of grazing) and of the mixed crop rotation during both the grassland and the arable phase (e.g. delayed ploughing time and a catch crop strategy) can considerably reduce the negative environmental impact of grazing. It is important to consider the whole farm system when evaluating environmental impact. In particular for green house gasses since the pasture may serve as a source of N2O and indirectly of CH3, but also as a sink of CO2 influenced by management practices on the farm.


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Keynote presentation
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Research affiliation: Denmark > DARCOF III (2005-2010) > ORGGRASS - Grass-clover in organic dairy farming
ISBN:978-3-86944-021-7
Deposited By: Eriksen, Senior scientist Jørgen
ID Code:17879
Deposited On:12 Oct 2010 11:31
Last Modified:12 Oct 2010 11:31
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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