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J Dairy Sci. 2000 Aug;83(8):1837-44.

On-farm quick tests for estimating nitrogen in dairy manure.

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Nutrient Conservation and Metabolism Laboratory, USDA-Agriculture Research Service, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Maryland 20705, USA.


Manure nutrient analyses performed rapidly on the farm could be useful for nutrient management programs. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate six quick tests for their accuracy in estimating total manure N or NH4+-N. The quick tests included the hydrometer, electrical conductivity meter and pen, reflectometer, Agros N Meter, and Quantofix-N-Volumeter. The hydrometer was used to estimate total N, while the remaining tests were used to estimate NH4+-N. Samples (107) were collected from dairy farms in five northeastern states. Samples were analyzed for total N and NH4+-N by traditional laboratory methods and using each of the quick tests. Manure compositions ranged from 1.4 to 38.6% dry matter (DM), 0.9 to 9.5 kg/m3 total N, and 0.3 to 4.7 kg/m3 NH4+-N. The estimated concentration of total N or NH4+-N determined by each quick test was regressed against laboratory-determined values. The hydrometer did not estimate total N accurately. The strongest relationship for estimation of NH4+-N was with the Quantofix-N-Volumeter followed by the Agros N Meter, the reflectometer, and the electrical conductivity meter and pen. When the samples were split into high (>12%) and low (< or =12%) DM groups, in all cases the r2 for the regression equation was higher for the low DM group than for the high DM group. The Agros N Meter, the reflectometer, and the conductivity meter and pen did not perform well for the high DM group. These data indicate that several quick tests are viable options for measuring NH4+-N concentrations in dairy slurries and solids.

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