The impact of using novel equations to predict nitrogen excretion and associated emissions from pasture-based beef production systems.

The excretion of nitrogen (N) in faeces and urine from beef cattle contributes to atmospheric pollution through greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions and eutrophication of land and aquatic habitats through excessive N deposition and nitrate leaching to groundwater. As N excretion by beef cattle is rarely measured directly, it is important to accurately predict losses by utilising a combined knowledge of diet and production parameters so that the effect of dietary changes on the potential environmental impact of beef production systems can be estimated. This study aimed to identify differences between IPCC and more detailed country-specific models in the prediction of N excretion and N losses at a system level and determine how the choice of model influences the interpretation of differences in diet at the system scale. The data used in this study were derived from a farm-scale experimental system consisting of three individual grazing farms, each with a different sward type: a permanent pasture, a high sugar ryegrass monoculture, and a high sugar ryegrass with white clover (~30% groundcover). Data were analysed using a mixed linear model (residual maximum likelihood analysis). The IPCC methods demonstrated significantly lower estimates of N excretion than country-specific models for the first housing period and significantly greater losses for the grazing and second housing periods. The country-specific models enabled prediction of N partitioning to urine and faeces, which is important for estimation of subsequent N losses through the production system, although the models differed in their estimates. Overall, predicted N losses were greater using the IPCC approaches compared to using more detailed country-specific approaches. The outcomes of the present study have highlighted that different models can have a substantial impact on the predicted N outputs and subsequent losses to the environment for pasture-based beef finishing systems, and the importance, therefore, of using appropriate models and parameters
Publication history: Accepted - 6 June 2022; Published online - 14 June 2022
urine, faeces, greenhouse gases, ammonia, volatilisation, sustainability
Angelidis, A.E., McAuliffe, G.A., Takahashi, T., Crompton, L., Yan, T., Reynolds, C.K., Stergiadis, S. and Misselbrook, T. (2022) ‘The Impact of Using Novel Equations to Predict Nitrogen Excretion and Associated Emissions from Pasture-Based Beef Production Systems’, Sustainability. MDPI AG. doi:10.3390/su14127260.