Phosphorus, potassium and sulfur, together with nitrogen, are the main nutrients supplied by fertiliser. They are taken up by pasture, and most are eaten by stock, as fresh pasture, hay or silage. Other feed also supplies nutrients. Some of the nutrients consumed by animals are sent off the farm in products such as meat or wool, but most are excreted back onto pasture. Dairy cows’ dung and urine dropped in sheds and yards is later sprayed onto fields as effluent. Unused pasture dies and the nutrients in it return to the soil. Dung and urine may be dropped on unproductive areas such as yards or tracks, and some nutrients may be locked up in the soil or lost into the water table. Fertiliser is designed to replace nutrients lost in various parts of the cycle.
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