Origin, quantities and fate of nitrogen flows associated with animal production.

Delaby, L., Dourmad, J.Y., Béline, F., Lescoat, P., Faverdin, P., Fiorelli, J.-L., Vertès, F., Veysset, P., Morvan, T., Parnaudeau, V., Durand, P., Rochette, P., and Peyraud, J.L. (2014). "Origin, quantities and fate of nitrogen flows associated with animal production.", Advances in Animal Biosciences, 5(S1), pp. 28-48. doi : 10.1017/S2040470014000272  Access to full text


The nitrogen efficiency is the ratio between the output of nitrogen in the animal products and the input required for the livestock production. This ratio is a driver of the economic profitability and can be calculated at various levels of the production system: animal, field or farm. Calculated at the scale of the animal, it is generally low with less than half-ingested nitrogen remaining in the milk, the eggs or the meat in the form of proteins; the major part of the nitrogen being rejected in the environment. Significant gains were achieved in the past via the genetic improvement and the adjustment of feed supply. At the farm level, the efficiency increases to 45% to 50%, thanks to the recycling of animal excreta as fertilisers. From excretion to land application of manure, the losses of nitrogen are very variable depending on the animal species and the manure management system. Considering the risks of pollution swapping, all management and handling steps need to be considered. Collective initiatives or local rules on agricultural practices allow new opportunities to restore nitrogen balances on local territory.

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