Manure and the Environment

Agricultural Production Animal Manure Management

Manure and the Environment

Manure contains four primary contaminants that impact water quality: nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and other pathogens, and organic matter. Achieving a nutrient balance will reduce potential environmental hazards often associated with animal agriculture. An annual crop nutrient management plan is needed to ensure an adequate supply of nutrients to sustain profitable crop production, and to balance nutrient inputs (including manure) with crop nutrient needs.

Soil quality impacts of agricultural and municipal biosolids applications

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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Improved Use Efficiency of Applied Organic Nitrogen

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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Manure Impact on 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

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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Siting Animal Facilities to Reduce Neighbor Nuisance

Wind direction and speed affect dust and odor risk. A first step in assessing and minimizing potential dust and odor nuisance risk of a livestock operation is identifying the most likely downwind directions. This article will share wind frequency data for 44 Nebraska locations to consider siting options for reducing these nuisances.

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