Skip main navigation

Nitrogen efficiency in feed


The University of Reading is investigating how to make the dairy production system more sustainable. In this video, Professor Chris Reynolds talks about research on dairy cow nutrition, currently carried out by the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development.

As you watch this video, you may find this drawing of the nitrogen cycle useful. Nitrogen is important for plant growth and therefore a component of fertilisers. Nitrogen is also an important component of animal feed, but not all the nitrogen an animal ingests can be digested, which means that there is nitrogen in the manure. Both the application of manure and fertiliser to the land can result in N2O emissions. Bacteria living in symbiosis with legumes are able to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, thereby increasing the amount of nitrogen in the soil naturally.

Infographic detailing the nitrogen cycle. It shows nitrogen in soil and the atmosphere being absorbed by grass and plants which are eaten by a cow. Nitrogen is then passed on in the cow's manure which is then absorbed by the soil.

Figure 1: Nitrogen cycle (Click to expand) © University of Reading

You can find out more about the University of Reading’s farms on this PDF.

How important do you think is research like this when it comes to tackle change in agriculture? Add your thoughts to the discussion in the comment area below. Remember that you can also ‘like’ and reply to comments made by your fellow learners.

References and further reading:

This article is from the free online

The Future of Farming: Exploring Climate Smart Agriculture

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now