The closure of nutrient cycles is a hot topic at the moment. Whether it is within a field, on a farm or a larger regional scale, the need to close nutrient cycles as far as possible is receiving more and more attention. This is because resources and energy must be used as efficiently as possible to minimize emissions into the atmosphere and surface water and groundwater.

Quantification and minimization of emissions
An increased uptake and utilization of the nutrients applied to crops via fertilizer is a recurrent objective. The nutrient application should reflect (changes in) the nutrient needs of the crop and the nutrient supply from the soil. This optimization requires a good knowledge of the growth and nutrient requirements of crops and the processes taking place within the soil. This optimization will subsequently lead to a minimization of losses. The magnitude of the losses can be quantified within a field or on a larger scale. In The Netherlands this also includes quantification within a water mass. A tool that we use for this is the Soil Explorer.

Closed nutrient cycle at a company level
Optimization and reduction of losses in the animal feed and animal manure cycles on dairy farms, are of increasing importance. This optimization requires good management within the enterprise. NMI has the expertise and tools that can be used to advise. The Trace Element Guide is a tool to calculate the supply of trace elements for dairy cattle, resting cows and young cattle.

Regional level: the role of residues and animal manure
Closing nutrient cycles at the regional level can be achieved by involving the customers of arable farm products in the nutrient cycles of arable farms. Any residues from the processing of these products could be returned to the farm and the nutrients can be successfully reused and the nutrient cycle can be closed.
Collaboration between companies with and without livestock also fits into the concept of closing nutrient cycles on a regional scale. This can be achieved by growing livestock feed on arable farms and using animal manure on these same farms.

Contact: Romke Postma
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