With the dairy industry always intensifying to increase profit and keep up with demand, Papatūānuku (our Mother Earth) is not able to sustain these demanding systems. As such, we are seeing negative effects on the environment. One of these environmental issues caused by dairy production is nutrient leaching, which has been directly linked to the degradation of water quality in New Zealand.
Up to 80% of leaching in a New Zealand farming system can occur when cows are grazing out in the paddock (grazing is an integral part of the NZ farm system and this is not due to change). Cows feed on pasture that is high in nitrogen, an amount that so far exceeds the amount of nitrogen their body demands. The high excess is then returned to the soil through the cow’s urine in an extreme concentrate. It is these concentrated nitrogen spots of urine that end up seeping through the soil to the water table, running out downwards in streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean, destroying natural habitats and eco-systems along the way.
The NUN (Nitrogen Urine Neutralizer) is designed to harness to cows while they are grazing. When a cow passes the nitrogen rich urine, the liquid is channelled into the funnel of the NUN, where pressure starts to build up against the small 2mm diameter sprinkler holes at the bottom of the device. The sprinkler holes then disperse the urine out over a larger area of ground, increasing the urine spot size by 4.9 times. Because the urine and nitrogen is spread further, it is available to a larger amount of grass to use as it grows. This cuts the amount of nitrogen leaching down through the soil by up to 50%. The improvement would make room for other New Zealand businesses to thrive, such as fisheries and tourism, bringing more money for the economy in a way that keeps kiwis proud.
Nga Pae Mahutonga - The School of Design, Massey University, New Zealand