WW-07401 Reviewed 2008Part of The Soil Management Series
Waste Disposal or Soil Enhancement?
|In this publication|
Do you think of manure as waste or an asset? Why do some farmers spend valuable time planning a manure management system? Here are some reasons to treat manure as an asset and examine your manure management system.
Enhancing crop growth. Ron Tobkin, a dairy and crop farmer in northwestern Minnesota, appreciates the improved growth he sees in his edible beans. Ron applied 90 pounds of nitrogen as urea to one plot of beans, and 90 pounds of nitrogen as hog manure to another. The manured beans yielded at least as well as those receiving urea; their roots were better developed and less diseased; and the manure application cost Ron less than the fertilizer. Increased biological activity or other manure characteristics may explain the lower disease rates.
Reducing costs. Other farmers manage their manure carefully so they can reduce fertilizer costs. Manure from a 60-head dairy herd is enough to fertilize 200 acres of cropland in an oats-alfalfa-alfalfa-corn-corn rotation. If bedding and a solid manure handling system is used, the dollar value of the N, P, and K produced may be over $10,000. Nitrogen alone would be worth over $4,000 each year. (Data from the MDA Manure Management Planning Guide, p. 3.)
Being a good neighbor. Effective manure management prevents odors and keeps nitrogen and phosphorus out of surface and groundwater.
Making livestock production possible. Recently, leaders in Rice County, Minnesota decided that existing manure management regulations did not adequately control odor and protect water quality. They established an ordinance limiting livestock operations to 1500 animal units. Rice County is just one example of a growing number of places around the country where farmers who want the right to raise animals must explain and justify how they are handling manure.
What is your manure management system?
Are you getting the maximum benefit from your manure and adequately preventing pollution? This publication describes how your manure management system affects your farm nutrient cycles, and outlines ways to improve your system.
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