Explorative research into quality of slurry manure from dairy farms with different feeding strategies
Keywords:N recovery, herbage rejection, phytoxicity, grass, clover, bio-assay
AbstractTo assess cattle slurry manure quality in relation to feeding strategy, a field experiment and a bio-assay were carried out with slurries from four dairy farming systems that used diets differing in protein content and digestibility. Several quality aspects were evaluated. In the field experiment the effects of slurry manure type on herbage rejection by grazing heifers and herbage yield on undisturbed plots under cages were studied for a grass monoculture and a grass/clover mixture. The bio-assay, consisting of a cress (Lepidium sativum L.) seed germination test, was used to study differences in phytotoxicity between the slurry types. After five weeks of undisturbed growth at equal amounts of applied inorganic nitrogen (N), the herbage yields differed statistically for the different slurries. This was probably due to immobilization of N in the case of the two slurries from farming systems in which straw was fed and used as bedding material. Herbage rejection by grazing animals was significantly shown for all slurry types and was significantly and positively correlated with the NH&sub3;/NH&sub4;&sup+;-N content of the slurry. The slurries showed large differences in phytotoxicity to seeds and seedlings in the bio-assay. Ammonia and electric conductivity appeared to be the most important slurry parameters with inhibiting effects. The slurries with a high C/N ratio showed lowest phytotoxicity. Phytotoxicity in the cress seed germination test did not account for reduced herbage yields in the field experiment. On the contrary, when the slurries were ranked according to their phytotoxicity the order was the same as the ranking on the basis of undisturbed herbage yield. It was concluded that there is a need for other laboratory tests that show greater resemblance with what is observed in the field to assess slurry quality.