The trial will run for four years with design, supervision and reporting by AgResearch, Massey University and Dairy Trust Taranaki.
It will take place on 50ha of the DTT Stratford demonstration farm, Spikey’s marketing manager Denis Collins said.
He works for Pastoral Robotics, the company that has developed the new way of treating high-intensity nitrogen patches to prevent leaching.
The paddocks and the herd will be divided into two groups and one half will be treated with Spikey and Nitrostop urine treatment and the other half with best management practice.
Lysimeters will be sunk into the paddocks immediately to monitor the soil moistures, leaching and soluble elements.
The objective is to show that targeted treatment of urine patches can eliminate nitrate leaching beyond the pasture root zone, Collins said.
The cost of treatment is between $260 and $300/ha but Pastoral Robotics is also hoping to establish that $700-$1000/ha/year of benefits will result from the slowing of nitrate formation and faster pasture growth.
“That will be good for the environment and economically,” he said.
The prototype Spikey will be used initially at Stratford, from September 1, followed by a locally-owned model with which a contractor could offer services to Taranaki dairy farmers.
Ideally, treatments should follow the cows within 48 hours and the average coverage is 5ha/hr at speeds between 8-12kph.
The wording of the Ministry of Primary Industries funding announcement said the trial will investigate the key features of different urine patch treatments and their use across a farming system.
The work at the demonstration farm will be compared with similar measurements on a commercial farm in the Rotorua catchment.
“We will get real data at a farm level that is independent, peer-reviewed and published,” it read.
“Acceptance by rural professionals and regional councils should follow, along with input to models like Overseer.
The ultimate goal is to prevent nitrogen leaching into waterways and the latest round of funding was $14m in total for 12 projects under the heading of freshwater mitigation.