Michigan Dairy Review
home about events links archives contact


Dairy Feed
Change Evaluator


CornPicker for Silage Hybrids

spartan nutrient cycle card

virtual dairy cattle encyclopedia of reproduction


arrow Curent MDR articlesimage

Spartan Nutrient Cycle Card

The Spartan Nutrient Cycle Card is provided to help you manage the flow and recycling of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) through your dairy farm. By balancing the flow of nutrient imports and exports across your farm boundary, efficient nutrient use can be maximized and accumulation of nutrients in soil or risk of nutrient loss can be minimized.

Download Nutrient Cycle Powerpoint Slides




Accurate ration

Maximize efficient and cost-effectie nutrient use with accurate ration formulation.

  • Greater than recommended amounts of ration N, P, and K do not improve animal performance, are costly, and increase accumulation in soil and risk of pollution by increasing N, P, and K in manure.
  • Match ration protein (N levels), P, and K to NRC 2001 recommendations for each animal group's milk yield growth rate.
  • Feed milking cows 1 gram ration P for each pouind of milk produced. Each gram of excess ration P equals 1 gram of additional P in manure.
  • Ration P should equal 0.32 to 0.38% in dry matter depending on feed intake and milk yield. Greater concentrations are not necessary unless feed intake is depressed.
  • Feed growing heifers rations with 0.25 to 0.30% P dry basis, depending on body size and growth rate


Facilities, storage & treatment.

Retain nutrients in the farm and reduce risk of pollution by effectively minimizing, containing, storing, and treating manure nutrients in and around housing and manure storage.

  • Divert rain and snow melt away from manure and feed contaminated surfaces to reduce risk of nutrients leaving the farm or compromising clean water.
  • Clean outdoor animal lots, traffic lanes, and handling areas frequently to minimize nutrient runoff.
  • Collect and store contaminated runoff for later use or employ appropriate treatment method.
  • Ensure new manure storage meets design requirements. Maintain adequate freeboard in storage to minimize risk of overflow from storm events and routinely inspect integrity of storage structures.
  • Maintain natural crusting in liquid storage or consider alternative covers or treatments to contain emissions such as odors, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane and carbon dioxide.


Transfer to
root zone.

Keep it in the root zone when dealing with manure nutrients by employing a nutrient management plan, sufficient land base, and appropriate application practices.

  • Develop a nutrient management plan for long-term nutrient balance with sufficient land base. Export manure if adequate land is not available.
  • Test soil for nutrient availability and manure for nutrient contents. Follow MSU nutrient recommendations for each crop in the cropping system to maintain nutrient balance.
  • Plan to vary allocation among fields based on soil fertility tests, expected crop yields, and windopws of opportunity for application. Routinely callibrate application equipment. Do not apply more manure nutrients than soils can assimilate and crops can use.
  • Consider risk of runoff and leaching when applying manure. Adjust locations and application rates based on proximity to neighbors, land slopes, surface waters, and tile drainage.
  • Incorporate or inject manure when practical to decrease odor, reduce N losses to air, and avoid potential runoff of N, P, and K.

Harvested & stored nutrients.

Minimize nutrient losses by managing feeds properly, especially high-moisutre forages, grains, and byproducts.

  • Harvest forages for silage at less than 70% moisture for bunker silos or less than 65% for upright silos.
  • Exclude oxygen from stored high-moisture feeds to avoid volatilization and breakdown of nutrients.
  • Pack forages to a minimum of 15 lb/ft3 of dry matter and cover bunker silos to minimize losses.
  • Divert water away from feed storage areas. Shape and cover bunk silos to exclude water.
  • Maintain smooth vertical faces of bunker silos at feed-out to avoid exposure to air.
  • Keep apron areas free of feed debris, especially before precipitation.
  • Divert contaminated runoff to a storage structure or an acceptable treatment system.
  • Before importing more high-P byproduct feeds, be sure that the additional P will not create a P imbalance in your farm.
For more information visit www.animalag.msu.edu

Michigan Dairy Review is published and mailed to all Michigan dairy farmers and individuals working in allied industries. With its ever increasing on-line presence, the MDR target audience has spread beyond Michiagan and the U.S.; today electronic subscribers are located in places such as Australia, The Scandinavia, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Peru, and New Zealand.  

The MDR is the primary communications vehicle for research findings, extension programming, and teaching between faculty and staff in MSU dairy programs and the dairy industry. The MDR web site is paid for by the C. E. Meadows Endowment.