A study by Agricultural Research Service scientists shows dairy farmers can get more milk from their cows and waste less nitrogen through manure and urine if they more efficiently manage nitrogen. ARS personnel worked to calculate nitrogen use efficiency ratings to help dairy farmers make better use of their nitrogen in the face of escalating costs and increasing nutrient regulation.
The scientists found farmers can use various practices that improve nitrogen use, profits and the environment. And there's lots of room for increase. For example they found only about 20 to 35% of the nitrogen fed to dairy cows is converted into milk and 16 to 77% of nitrogen in manure or fertilizer is necessary for grass and pasture plants. Farmers can utilize nitrogen use efficiency formulas to promote practices that maximize nitrogen use so nitrogen doesn't leave farms to pollute waterways and ground water and negatively impact air quality.