WW-07401 2000Manure Management main page
Assessing your system
Is manure an expensive waste product or an integral part of nutrient cycling and an asset to your soil quality? Is your manure management system where you want it to be? Here are some questions to help you decide.
Review all the places where nitrogen is lost from manure - collection, storage, and application. (See pages 9-11.) Where are your major N losses? Are they acceptable? What would it take to make improvements?
The economics and politics of manure
Manure management decisions are linked to many parts of your farm operation. But how are manure management decisions linked to the larger food production system?
In the past, nearly every farm in the country had a few animals. Now, livestock are concentrated in a few regions and in large herds. There have always been some poor manure managers, but the costs of poor manure management are rising as the size of herds and flocks grow.
Non-farmers are becoming concerned about these costs as manure spills increasingly make the news. Farmersí pocket books and the quality of soil are affected as nutrients are carried farther and farther from their original field. For example, nutrients may be taken from a field in Minnesota (in the form of corn), fed to hogs in South Carolina, and deposited hundreds of miles from the source of those nutrients.
The modern system of livestock production is not just changing the distribution of nutrients across the land. It is also changing the markets for manure and forages. How has livestock production changed in your area in the last 20 years? If a farmer without livestock wanted to grow a forage crop, would it be easier or harder now to find a market for that crop? Could that farmer buy manure? The answers to these questions are quickly changing for many farmers, and are changing the way farmers manage their soil.
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