The deposition of livestock urine and feces in grazed fields results in a sizable input of available nitrogen (N) in these soils; therefore significantly increasing potential nitrogen pollution from agricultural areas in the form of nitrous oxide (N 2 O), ammonia (NH 3), and nitrate (NO 3 −). Livestock deposition events contributes to high spatial variability within the field and generate uncertainties when assessing the contribution that animal waste has on nitrogen pollution pathways. This study investigated an innovative technique for identifying the spatial coverage of urine deposition in grasslands without the need for manual soil measurements. A Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) using a twin camera system was used to identify urine patches in a 5 ha field, which had been grazed by sheep 3 weeks previous to measurements. The imagery was processed using Agisoft Photoscan (Agisoft LLC) to produce true and false color orthomosaic imagery of the entire field. Imagery of five areas (225 m 2) within the field were analyzed using a custom R script. For a total of 1,125 m 2 of grassland, 12.2% of the area consisted of what was classified as urine patch. A simple up-scaling method was applied to these data to calculate N 2 O emissions for the entire field providing an estimate of 1.3–2.0 kg N 2 O-N ha −1 emissions from urine and fertilizer inputs.
Maire, J., Gibson-Poole, S., Cowan, N., Reay, D. S., Richards, K. G., Skiba, U., … Lanigan, G. J. (2018). Identifying Urine Patches on Intensively Managed Grassland Using Aerial Imagery Captured From Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 2. https://doi.org/10.3389/fsufs.2018.00010