Institution: Bangor University
Project title: Use of real-time in situ nitrogen sensors to enhance sustainability and reduce costs in livestock systems
Description of project: Optimising the use of nitrogen represents one of the major goals of sustainable livestock farming systems from both an economic and environmental standpoint. While there have been thousands of studies investigating different management strategies for optimising nitrogen use on farms, translating this research into practical management advice and subsequent adoption by farmers has been very patchy. Consequently, as evidenced by numerous recent reports, there is no doubt that we have a long way to go before nitrogen is used efficiently within the UK livestock sector (Wilkins, 2008; Rees and Ball, 2010; Spiertz, 2010).
This project will aim to demonstrate how the application of new sensor technologies can enable practical management of nitrogen on livestock farms. The project objectives are as follows:-
1. Demonstrate and validate the use of real-time NO3- sensors within pastures undergoing contrasting fertiliser regimes (inc. slow release fertilisers).
2. Demonstrate and validate the use of real-time NO3- sensors for fertiliser management in fodder crop systems.
3. Sensor measurements will be compared with the currently available methods such as conventional soil core analysis, ion-exchange resins (Qian & Schoenau 2005) and small-scale lysimeters.
4. The sensors will also be deployed around point sources of N release (e.g. waste stores) to investigate their role in the active pollution prevention control.
5. Undertake an economic analysis to assess potential cost savings arising from technology adoption.
6. Promote awareness of the technology within the livestock industry.
A copy of Rory Shaw’s final report can be found here