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MANURE

See what farms are using for nutrient management, from anaerobic digesters and storage to field application and emissions.

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Be it liquid manure from a hog or dairy farm, solid manure from a cattle feedlot or litter from a poultry operation, there can be dramatic differences in the quality of nutrients in the manure, its beneficial characteristics for soil and crops, and its impact on neighbours and the environment.

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In the dairy industry, we know manure is valuable. But how valuable? Typically we look to nutrient composition as the major indicator of dollars and cents.

However, examining when, where, how, how much and even how well manure is applied can help dairy farms of all sizes start to realize its real value.

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Dairy farmers may not have to dig too deep, learn to maintain new equipment or radically change production practices in order to reduce nitrogen runoff from agricultural fields. Good manure management, along with help from a few friendly microbes, may be the next big thing in cleaning up our waterways.

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It’s a most natural cycle. Forages are fed to livestock that produce manure, and manure is returned to the soil to provide the nutrients to produce the next crop. After all, it’s what has happened on pastures and rangelands for millennia.

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Recent deaths of farmers and cattle have raised awareness of the all-too-common dangers of working around manure storage facilities. People “being overcome” or feeling dizzy around manure storage areas happens too often.

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Nitrate is a water-soluble form of nitrogen required for plant growth. It can become a health problem if present in high levels in groundwater.

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