Smart-N technology to reduce nitrogen fertiliser inputs on dairy farms

Whole farm systems analysis from the WFSAM project

Smart-N technology uses optical sensors to detect nitrogen-rich zones in order to avoid application of liquid nitrogen to these areas, thereby reducing fertiliser use. In dairy systems, urine and dung patches on pasture can reach a nitrogen loading of 1000 kg N ha-1. Researchers examined the application of Smart-N technology to reduce nitrogen application and greenhouse gas emissions on four Tasmanian dairy farms.

Fertiliser application was reduced by 30-40% with no impact on pasture production. A 30% reduction in fertiliser use would save a typical Tasmanian dairy farm $10,000 / annum in fertiliser costs. If the technology was adopted as a CFI / ERF method, the emissions mitigation income would be $1,150 (at a carbon price of $23 / t CO2-e).

Primary researchers

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Project Status


Project Leadership

Dr Christie Ho
  • Dr Christie Ho
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Agriculture Victoria

Richard Eckard
  • Professor Richard Eckard
  • Director
  • Primary Industries Climate Challenges Centre

Richard Rawnsley
  • Dr Richard Rawnsley
  • Senior Research Scientist
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture

Fact Sheet

Project Team

  • Dr Brendan Cullen
    University of Melbourne
  • Dr Matthew Harrison
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Dr Alexandria Sinnett
    Agriculture Victoria
  • Karen Christie
    Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • Natalie Doran-Browne
    University of Melbourne

Funding Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Australian Wool Innovation Limited
  • Dairy Australia
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
  • University of Melbourne

Collaborating Organisations

  • Agriculture Victoria
  • Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture