Land Application Training is a Producer’s Google Maps

Land Application Training is a Producer’s Google Maps

2020_Lagoon JC Ramos

Manure Storage Pit. Photo credit: Juan Carlos Ramos, 2020.

About the Author

Hello! Hello, my name is Beth Zelt. I work with the Manure Lady, Dr. Amy Schimdt, as a content developer. This is my first ever job working in an agriculture-related position, but I am really getting into my role of spreading the word about the benefits and hurdles of manure.

Just over a year ago, I joined Dr. Amy Schmidt, the Manure Lady’s, team as a content developer to help spread the word about manure (and her other area of interest, antimicrobial resistance). I will be the first to admit I was a real newbie to the whole poop thing. Luckily, UNL’s Manure team is full of friendly, inviting people who are really good at teaching about manure. Feeling more confident in my manure knowledge, and with my interest peaked for all things manure, I attended my first manure Land Application Training (LAT). LAT events, led by members of UNL’s Manure Team, are offered each spring at venues all across the state. Participants can attend for a full day if they are newbies like me, or a half day if they just need a refresher.

If you are already working at a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), or for a manure broker or hauler in the state, you may already know about LAT – because it is a requirement for these types of businesses to keep their LAT up-to-date. But LAT is not just for livestock and poultry producers anymore! I found it to be extremely helpful to understanding the science of manure management and the regulatory environment for CAFO operators. Not only extremely helpful, but fascinating!

How could a training program containing sections on manure regulations be fascinating?

Manure smoking in dawn lightWell first, there is good money to be made with manure. But to make that money there are some very important environmental considerations to navigate. Land application training is a bit like Google Maps for livestock and crop producers who want to get that good money out of manure and be good neighbors and environmental stewards. That last part – neighborliness and environmental stewardship - is also why I think anyone can benefit from checking out a LAT in their area. The principles we discussed at my LAT session can apply to anyone applying fertilizer, or just trying to get their plants to grow. Second, attending LAT gave me a valuable guide map to creating Nutrient Management Plans and navigating the thicket of state regulations to keep livestock facilities in the clear. This might sound boring, but I have to say as someone who does not generally work in agriculture, I was surprised at how comprehensive these plans are and that discharge of manure is never allowed if livestock producers want to be in compliance with the terms of their permits. LAT provides high value for anyone needing a little Google-mapping through regulations and calculating nutrient values. It also offers useful insight into the ways producers and regulators work together to reduce environmental impacts from livestock and poultry production.

Fortunately, LAT is a comprehensive training, so we did not just learn about laws. We got down in the muck and figured out how to use manure wisely. LAT helps circumnavigate the would-be-bog of calculations required to make manure the most efficient and gain the greatest possible value from using it. In my session, I learned how to determine everything from soil and manure nutrient values to the cost of transporting manure.

LAT manure activity mapMy favorite activity during the training was based around the community-wide effects and benefits of livestock facilities. Each participant was assigned their own field, and we all discussed together the benefits, and challenges, of applying manure to our different fields. I got lucky. My field had only one water source to tiptoe around, and my field was in desperate need of soil nutrients since it was only growing corn. Because of this, my field could gain plenty of value from applying manure, as it needed almost all the nutrients that manure contains including N, P, K, S, and Zn, and probably others. My field was not all roses though. To get the manure I needed to my field would require a high transportation cost because of the long travel distance. But the transportation cost was well worth the profit because a single application of manure could set my field up with enough micronutrients to last several years, which made my field high-gains, high-priority. Another benefit of my field was that it was situated in a low-population zone. This meant it would have minimal impacts on neighbors during the first couple of days after manure was applied and might still have high odors.

I will not give away all the tips I learned about how to determine the ideal date for manure application; those are for me to benefit from and you to find out! I will only leave you with one tip: Keep your eye on the wind. But not how you might think. High winds are a good time for application because they disperse the odor. But watch which way the wind is blowing to avoid your neighbors giving you the stink eye!

For more information, and to stay up to date on locations and times of land application training, go to Direct questions about the LAT workshops can be sent to Leslie Johnson at or 402-584-3818.

This article was reviewed by Mara Zelt and Leslie Johnson

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