Nitrogen fluxes in dairy farm soils in response to fertilizer or “urine”

Michael W. Heaven1, Craig Beverly2, Cameron Gourley1, Jenny Collins1, Sharon Aarons1, Michael Adelana3, Thabo Thayalakumaran3, Evan Dresel4

1 Agriculture Victoria, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), 1301 Hazeldean Road, Ellinbank, Victoria, 3821,,, 
2 Agriculture Victoria, DJPR, 124 Chiltern Valley Rd, Rutherglen, Victoria, 3685,
3 Agriculture Victoria, DJPR, 5 Ring Rd, Bundoora, Victoria, 3086,
4 Agriculture Victoria, DJPR, Midland Hwy, Epsom Victoria 3551 Epsom, 3685


Eutrophication in the Victorian Gippsland Lakes has been linked to agricultural nitrogen (N) inputs and their potential contribution to leaching losses. Quantifying N fluxes through dairy soils will indicate the importance of leaching to N losses in these systems. Movement of N through the soil profile of a dairy farm in the Gippsland, Victoria, was investigated over a 24-month period. Urine treatments resulted in sizeable yield responses with ~100% increase in pasture dry matter yields above control treatments at first harvest after urine application. Pasture response continued up to four more harvests with N uptake from 19-47%. Fertiliser resulted in almost negligible N leached. The implication of this research is that cow urine is a larger determinant than fertiliser use of N lost from farms.



The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

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David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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