Manure and the Environment
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.
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.
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.
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.