After exhaustive on-farm development and trialling over the spring and summer of 2017/18, the pre-production tractor-mounted 8-metre wide ‘Spikey-8’ cow urine patch detection and treatment device is now finally ready for full commercialisation in New Zealand. Discussions with potential commercial partners are underway. Pastoral Robotics co-founder Dr Bert Quin, who recently stood down from management duties to concentrate on another project, said that with this 8m total width, running Spikey® over whatever paddocks have been grazed that day (typically 3-10 ha depending on farm size) will take only 30-60 minutes including loading time. ‘Every second day is fine, but you start to lose a bit of effectiveness if you go more than 3 days because some of the urine-urea has converted to ammonium-N’, he said. ‘The treatment with the ORUN® solution works best – that is, increases the size of the urine patch the most – if the nbpt and gibb acid in the ORUN® are applied in the first one-two days’.
Dr Quin said farmers could adopt a policy of just using Spikey® in the months when urine deposition was most likely to lead to nitrate leaching later in the year when soils became saturated. Alternatively, they can use it all year round, taking advantage of the fact that the increase in size of all urine patches will provide an estimated additional pasture growth of 5-15% annually, easily recovering all costs. ‘That’s what I would do’, says Quin.