Agricultural Production Animal Manure Management

Land Application

With increasing regulations, the livestock producer needs to understand the scientific principles that affect manure transformations and how to use these principles to manage the manure for maximum fertilizer value with minimal environmental impact. Improved land application of manure is one part of the solution, but we suggest that the producer evaluate the quantity of nutrients arriving on the farm as feed, animals, and fertilizer compared to the total that is exported.

“Applying Manure Management Concepts On-Farm” Programs in February and March

program graphic
The Animal Manure Management team is hosting “Applying Manure Management Concepts On-Farm” programs across the state. They begin on February 2nd in Norfolk and continue throughout February and into March. While these events have traditionally been targeted at livestock operations that are required to attend as part of their permit, the team has made huge progress the last several years in making the information in those programs very interactive and applied for anyone that uses manure. I encourage all crop farmers that use or are considering using manure to plan on attending. At the programs, you’ll discover how to determine which fields are the most economical for manure use and which fields can benefit the most from manure’s ability to improve soil health and water quality.

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The science behind 50-degree soil and nitrogen application

graphic of thermometer
Does nitrogen becoming nitrate mean we are going to lose it? No, it takes rainfall or snowmelt in the spring that will cause a leaching event, but it does increase the risk of loss. Certainly, there is a balance between making sure we get our manure applied before the soil freezes and applying too early, but hopefully the information above illustrates a bit behind the science of the 50°F and cooling recommendation.

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Maximizing Profitability of Manure Use

truck mounted spreader going over tarps to calibrate
Fertility is critical to a good crop, so we know not to ignore our crop fertility needs, but we don’t always think about ways we may be able to trim costs by better utilizing local nutrients. Manure has many benefits, including some related to soil health, but perhaps the most recognized benefit is that manure contains the nutrients our crops need. Manure isn’t always an inexpensive product, but it contains multiple nutrients that are highly valued when planning your fertility program.

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Biological benefits of manure application on agricultural soils

Biological Benefits of Manure Application
Soil quality has been traditionally described in terms of chemical and physical properties; however, soil organisms play an important role in soil health. Some studies suggest that using manure as soil amendment could result in increased microbial biomass, which results in higher soil bacteria, fungi and higher microbial activity. Soil microbial activity is crucial for nutrient cycling, aggregate stability, fertility, and other soil characteristics leading to better crop productivity.

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Manure Application Following Silage

photo of corn silage harvest
With silage harvest coming up quickly, manure application will soon follow. Because silage is often the first crop to come off the field, it allows for earlier manure application and thus an earlier cleanout of pens before winter. As that manure application plan develops, include best stewardship practices for optimum rates and preferred application methods for final decisions.

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