Tools for evaluating and regulating nitrogen impacts in livestock farming systems.

Bockstaller, C., Vertès, F., Fiorelli, J.-L., Rochette, P., and Aarts, H.F.M. (2014). "Tools for evaluating and regulating nitrogen impacts in livestock farming systems.", Advances in Animal Biosciences, 5(S1), pp. 49-54. doi : 10.1017/S2040470014000284  Access to full text


This article describes several indicators and methods for estimating nitrogen flows and balance sheets. It reviews their strengths and weaknesses according to user types and their objectives. The nitrogen balance sheets, based on the difference between inputs and outputs are by far the most-often used estimator of nitrogen management on livestock farms. Among those, the soil surface balance helps in guiding the fertilisation and the farmgate balance is logically higher. The indicators of practices are easy to use but are poor predictors of nitrogen losses, whereas the indicators of emissions allow for estimating nitrogen losses using either direct measurements or models thereby providing a dynamic assessment of these flows. The coupling of balance sheets and indicators of emissions offers a certain potential for improvement of diagnosis and support of decision making. Finally, the indicators of impacts, including the life cycle analyses are currently the most popular for qualifying the impacts of animal production.

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