Discovered by Dr Bert Quin in the 1970's the transformation of cow urine into nitrates which then leach into our rivers and aquifers is now recognised as the biggest issue threatening the growth of the dairy industry in New Zealand. Dr Quin has teamed up with Geoff Bates to form Pastoral Robotics Limited, a company with a solution to the nitrate leaching problem.
Dairy cows void most of their excess dietary nitrogen (N) in the form of urea in urine. In these "urine patches", N application rates are typically 1000 kg N per hectare, or 20-50 times a typical fertiliser N application! This urea is quickly converted to nitrate-N in the soil. This is soluble and plant-available, but most of it is leached through the soil by rainfall and irrigation before the plant roots can recover it. It then ends up in rivers, lakes and aquifers, with very undesirable effects. Nitrate-N levels above 10ppm are known to produce carcinogenic nitrosamines. Use in infant milk is banned in many countries. Nitrate-N is also the main cause of eutrophication in surface water, including algal blooms and weed growth. High nitrate levels in the soil lead to the emission of nitrous oxide, a serious greenhouse gas.
Mini-ME is Pastoral Robotics Limited's robotic system which detects urine patches after each grazing and simultaneously applies a proprietary mix of products to control losses and increase nitrate uptake by pasture. A 75% reduction in nitrate leaching is targeted and because the nitrogen is not lost but used by the plants extra grass is grown increasing productivity and profitability.
Contact us if you would like to be part of this cost effective solution to a major environmental challenge to the future of New Zealand farming.
Pastoral Robotics Limited - productivity, profitability, clean streams