Losses of NH3 from a number of swards grazed by cattle were measured through 2 (1986–87) grazing years using a mass balance micrometeorological method. Comparisons were made of grass swards receiving 420 or 210 kg fertilizer N/ha per year and a grass-clover sward (GC) dependent upon fixation under rotational grazing managements. In one year a continuously grazed sward was also examined. Rates of NH3 loss were usually greatest whilst animals were present, especially during early and late season. This was not always the case, however, and losses sometimes continued into the next grazing period; there were also large day-to-day variations in fluxes. Seasonal trends were also not distinct, but losses tended to be lower during early and late grazings.
The annual losses from 420 and 210 kg N/ha and GC treatments were 25, 10 and 7 kg N/ha, respectively, and the differences between treatments were still marked when losses were expressed on a per animal basis. Total loss under continuous grazing was 61 % of that under the rotational system. Although the losses represent only 7·8, 5·6 and 3·7% of the inputs to420N, 2 ION and GC treatments, there was a good relationship between inputs and total losses, and also between the concentration of N in the herbage and losses per animal. The effects of the measured rates of loss on the input of NH3 from grazed grassland to the atmosphere are discussed.