Nitrogen Losses under Different Cattle Grazing Frequencies and Intensities in a Volcanic Soil of Southern Chile
Mora,María de la Luz
Chilean livestock production systems have intensified over the last years, with increasing amounts of N fertilizer inputs creating the potentiality for environmental damage through N pollution of water and air, so that alternative production strategies have been developed to reduce such environmental impacts. This study assesses N losses under different grazing frequencies and intensities on permanent pasture (Lolium perenne L., Festuca arundinacea Schreb., Dactylis glomerata L., and Trifolium repens L.) on an Andisol in Southern Chile. Four grazing strategies were evaluated: frequent-heavy (FH), frequent-light (FL), infrequent-heavy (IH), infrequent-light (IL), and a no grazing control (C) treatment, and each with three replicates in a randomized complete block design. Results of the experiment indicate that N leaching losses were greater in the FH treatment (58.7 kg available N ha-1; p < 0.05) and with most of the leaching occurring in spring (39%). On average, N ammonia (NH3) losses were 10% greater in the frequent grazing treatments in relation to the infrequent grazing treatments, since there were no significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) among individual grazing events for FH, FL and IH. Results indicate that grazing frequency affects leaching losses while grazing intensity affects ammonia emissions from the grassland. Grazing with dairy cows in Southern Chile should consider this environmental constraint to ensure sustainable production over time.