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Australian dairy industry gets nitrogen cash boost

Editorial
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Australian dairy is one of four agricultural industries that will benefit from a government-funded Rural Research and Development for Profit project to improve the efficient use of nitrogen.

Dairy Australia will receive approximately A$1.5m ($1.09m) from the Australian government to support nitrogen use efficiency RD&E as part of its involvement in the More profit from nitrogen: enhancing the nutrient use efficiency of intensive cropping and pasture systems project. 

The project aims to identify practices to optimize nitrogen use efficiency. Previous research has found small improvements in farm-scale nitrogen use efficiency can provide substantial increases in productivity and profit.

Improved profit potential

The project will look for synergies between water and nitrogen inputs, quantifying the rate and timing of nitrogen supply through mineralization; assessing the cost effectiveness of enhanced efficiency fertilizers; and evaluating new digital, precision and spatial technologies.

Dairy Australia managing director, Ian Halliday, welcomed the funding announcement, saying that "Nitrogen is a significant cost to dairy producers and a significant component of their environment footprint."

He said that the project will help producers improve their nutrition management and boost the profitability of 500 dairy farmers by increasing the productivity per unit of nitrogen applied. 

Improved productivity per unit of nitrogen will also result in improved environmental outcomes, such as the impact of off-farm nutrients on water quality, he added. 

Halliday noted the sustainability component to this project, as more efficient use and management of nitrogen has significant natural resource benefits -improving soil health, reducing leaching and run-off to creeks and rivers, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Research partners kick in more cash

The project, which runs until 2020, is a partnership between the significant nitrogen-using industries of cotton, dairy, sugar and horticulture.

It will be led by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) in conjuction with fellow rural research and development corporations (RDCs) Dairy Australia, Sugar Research Australia and Horticulture Innovation Australia and 15 other research partners.

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