Urine in particular is very important for the cycling of nitrogen in pastoral systems. A cow grazes a large area and essentially concentrates all of that nitrogen that was in that grass into its body, and then when it has a urination event, it is depositing all of that nitrogen onto quite a small area.
The amount of nitrogen then in that little patch is way in excess of what the plants can handle, and you get nitrogen moving away from that site, because the plants basically can’t handle it. And you can see these urine patches when you drive past pastures. You’ll see these little tufts of green grass growing, and there are all these little patches out over the pasture. So if you ever go out for a drive and you go past a pasture and you see all of these little lumps – that’s old urine patches.
Professor Louis Schipper, University of Waikato