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.

Manure and Mulch are Teaming Up

photo of spreading cedar mulch and manure with manure spreader and tractor
Cedar trees are spreading into grasslands and reducing forages that support cattle grazing. The Nebraska Forest Service is promoting management practices to keep the trees from spreading outside of their usual habitat and into grasslands and areas along the banks of rivers and streams (called ‘riparian forests’). So what do cedar trees have to do with manure? Since 2015, two resourceful farmers have generously given up a few acres of their fields for UNL researchers to test various applications of mulch alone or co-mingled with cattle or swine manure.

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Best Application Tips for Winter Application

manure application on snow-covered soil
As we deal with frozen soils, switching to surface manure application, and the challenges of dealing with manure application during colder temperatures we need to be mindful of our application practices. While these application conditions don’t necessarily increase nutrient loss, they do increase the risk of potential loss.

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Building Soil Organic Matter Takes Time

clump of soil showing organic matter
Our “instant” culture gravitates to testimonials about how to rapidly increase soil organic matter by 1% within 1 to 3 years. Conversations with lenders and landlords regarding rewards on manure applications and multi-species cover crops investments would likely be easier if financial rewards or measured soil physical properties came quickly.

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Estimating Nitrogen Credit from Manure

manure pile
Manure is a valuable source of nutrients offering agronomic and soil health value. Most manure nutrients (e.g. phosphorus) can be managed successfully with traditional soil analysis. However, nitrogen in manure requires some simple advance planning to insure that it is given proper credit for offsetting commercial fertilizer inputs.

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Lagoon Closure and Your Environmental Responsibility

photo of the Haskell Ag Lab's swine lagoon during the dewatering process
Abandoned manure storages present a risk to the environment by accidental overflow or leakage due to lack of management. It is in the best interest of the environment and the property owner, who is liable for any environmental damage resulting from any discharge, whether leakage or overflow, to properly close any unused manure storage structure.

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