Trade-offs of dietary N-reducing dietary measures on enteric methane emission and P excretion in lactating cows

André Bannink


The dairy sector may expand by over 2% per annum with expiration of the milk quota system in countries with a major and intensive dairy sector. Such expansion will increase pressure to further reduce on-farm nitrogenous emission per unit of milk produced even more. A straightforward N-reducing measure is the manipulation of the cow diet resulting in a lower excretion of ammoniacal N excreted with urine in particular. However, dietary N-reducing measures also affect enteric methane emissions and P excretion. For an integral evaluation of the consequences of N-reducing dietary measures on on-farm emissions, the trade-offs between N emissions and P and methane emissions at the cow level need to be taken into account. Therefore, a simulation study was performed to simulate the consequence of various N-reducing and/or P-reducing dietary measures (altered grassland management, grass silage replaced by low-N feeds, increased concentrate allowance) on enteric methane emission and on N and P excretion. Results indicate a large scattering, but there was a trend of higher methane emissions with lower N excretion was significant. Specific measures had a synergistic effect on emissions such as the exchange of maize for grass silage. The present detailed model evaluations may aid in quantifying the extent of trade-offs between various types of emissions at the cow level, but also prove to be relevant when evaluating consequences of management options taken at the farm scale.

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