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Modelling 3D urine patch spread in grazed pasture soils to determine potential inhibitor effectiveness

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posted on 2023-05-03, 20:09 authored by Donna Gilltrap, Ben Jolly, Peter Bishop, Jiafa LuoJiafa Luo, Geoff Bates, Stuart LindseyStuart Lindsey, Peter Berben, Thilak Palmada, Surinder Saggar
Urine patches represent hot-spots of nitrogen (N) loss in dairy-grazed soils. Targeted application of urease andnitrification inhibitors that slow down certain N transformations in the urine patches is a potential method toreduce N losses. However, for optimum effectiveness the inhibitors need to be in close physical contact with theurine in the soil under urine patches. In practice, there will always be some time delay between urine depositionand application of inhibitors. It is therefore important to understand how the urine is transported in the soilfollowing deposition. In this study, we developed an empirical model of urine patch area from thermal images ofurine patches applied on two different soil types, at two different initial moisture contents, and with threedifferent applied urine volumes. Spatial measurements using Spikey®-R (a mobile device that measures soilsurface layer electrical conductivity) were used to test the model. A linear regression model of the ratio (urinevolume)/(patch area) against the soil air-filled pore space explained 45 % of the variation in the ratio and had aNash-Sutcliffeefficiency of +0.74 in predicting the mean patch area. This regression model was then used todefine the boundary conditions for HYDRUS2D/3D simulations of urine movement through the soil after ap-plication. These simulations reasonably predicted the amount of urine-N in the top 50 and 100 mm of the soil 4 hafter application (model efficiencies +0.38 and +0.42, respectively), but the model efficiencies were only−0.18 and +0.14 after 24 h. The measurements also had a high degree of spatial variability.After 24 h 44–78 % of the urine-N measured in the profile was within 50 mm of the surface. This represents alimit on the proportion of urine-N that could be physically intercepted by a post-grazing inhibitor application.


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  • English

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Journal title

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment




Gilltrap, D., Jolly, B., Bishop, P., Luo, J., Bates, G., Lindsey, S., … Saggar, S. (2020). Modelling 3D urine patch spread in grazed pasture soils to determine potential inhibitor effectiveness. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 292, 106809. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2019.106809

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