Agricultural Production Animal Manure Management

Value of Manure

Improved Use Efficiency of Applied Organic Nitrogen

compost windrows
Land application of organic materials for soil management in Nebraska is important. The availability of applied organic N and the fertilizer N substitution values of applied organic materials is not well predicted. The uncertainty of applied organic N availability leads to over-application of fertilizer N resulting in low efficiency of applied N use. Research has been done to validate or adapt canopy sensor guided in-season N application practices for fields with manure or other organic material applied, and to improve the prediction of the fertilizer N substitution values for organic materials.

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Soil quality impacts of agricultural and municipal biosolids applications

Trophic levels of the soil food web (Source: nrcs.usda.gov)
Soil health management refers to the preservation and improvement in soil physical, chemical, and biological properties to maximize the productive capacity of soil. Cover crops and reduced tillage are promoted for improving soil health; however, soil amendments such as application of livestock manure and municipal biosolids have received less attention as a soil health improvement practice. A literature review, funded by the North Central Region Water Network and the Soil Health Institute, was conducted to summarize and discuss results of studies reporting chemical, physical, and biological soil properties from application of livestock manure, animal by-products (i.e. compost), and municipal biosolids and to identify further research needs.

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What is the Economic Value of Manure?

Value of beef open lot manure assuming crop benefits from potassium supplementation and 5% increase in yield. Estimated manure value is $28/ton.
Manure has value. That value may result from improvements in soil quality, increases in yield, and replacement of commercial nutrient required for crop production. This article will focus on the economic benefits of manure.

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Manure Impact on Erosion and Runoff

Manure's ability to improve soil properties can reduce erosion and runoff.
This article reviews the value that results from changes to soil’s physical characteristics. Charles Wortmann and Dan Walters, faculty with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln monitored soil erosion, runoff, and phosphorus (P) loss from replicated field plots over three cropping seasons immediately after manure application and four subsequent years when no manure was applied. Significant erosion and runoff benefits were observed for sites receiving animal manures.

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Manure Impact on Soil Aggregation

The organic matter in manure improves soil quality including formation of stable soil aggregates.
Manure increases formation of larger and more stable soil aggregates. Several benefits result for fields fertilized by manure compared to commercial fertilizer including reduced runoff and soil erosion and increased water infiltration leading to greater drought tolerance.

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