A feed pad is a firm surface used for short periods of time where stock are given supplementary feed. The feed pad collects and contains the effluent.
Stand-off pads no provision for feeding and herd shelters provision for feeding are purpose-built drained resting spaces where stock can be held for long periods to minimise damage to pastures. They are often made from free-draining material such as woodchips, sawdust or bark.
Soil, farming and science – introduction — Science Learning Hub
Herd shelters protect cows from wind and rain they are covered. All systems should be able to collect and contain effluent, which can then be applied to the land as needed. It is expensive to set up any of these systems, but the long-term cost of pugging paddocks and degrading water quality is also high.
Farmers have to weigh up these costs and think about their fertiliser management practices. For example, applying nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers should be minimised in winter because it is the time of naturally slow growth and highest leaching due to climate conditions. Storing effluent from feed pads means farmers can utilise the nutrients from the effluent when required instead of spending money on fertilisers.
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Kits are available to test effluent for nutrient content. Places on the farm such as yards, races, tracks and silage pits are particularly prone to leaching and groundwater pollution. Yards contribute large volumes of faecal bacteria to streams. Yards should be located away from stormwater flows, and they should be protected from the rain.
Races and tracks can create large amounts of soil and effluent run-off, polluting the water and creating a health risk to animals and people. Problems can be avoided through careful design. Silage pits should be created away from areas where overland water can flush nutrients out of the bottom of them. To prevent effluent from entering waterways directly, farmers are encouraged to plant and fence off waterways and wetlands, pipe water races through culverts and reticulate water divert waste away from rivers using a network of pipes.
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The benefits are:. Researchers and farmers are always looking for new ideas. Some of the latest techniques to help minimise nutrient loss include:. Science is changing all the time. The rate of photosynthesis can be increased using:. Artificial lighting also allows photosynthesis to continue after daylight hours.
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The additional cost of providing extra heating, lighting and carbon dioxide has to be weighed against the increased crop yield and the extra income it will provide. The cost should not exceed the additional income it generates for the farmer. In practice, the farmer will need to find the optimum growing conditions for the crop, given the costs of providing extra lighting, heat and carbon dioxide.
Polythene tunnels polytunnels protect crops from the effects of the weather, including wind, rain and extreme temperatures. They are large enough for people and machines to work inside and can provide warmer conditions than if the crops were grown outside.