Manure nutrients will be more valuable than ever this spring season, due to increasing fertilizer prices and a limited availability due to a delayed shipping season.
Nutrient-rich livestock manure can improve crop production when spread on the field. This resource is often overlooked, due to the varying nutrient composition that is found in manures. While it is true that it may not be as uniform as store-bought fertilizers, with proper management, it is possible to meet almost all crop nutrient needs with livestock manure.
Manure intended for field application should be tested to determine nutrient content prior to spreading on fields. While initial application rates can be estimated based on the “book values”, routine manure sampling is critical to effective and efficient nutrient use. When unloading a manure storage pit, several samples should be taken to determine the nutrient variation. Nutrient uniformity can be improved by agitating the manure prior to hauling.
Regular soil sampling and calibration of manure spreaders will also ensure that you are making the most of your manure. Sampling provides farm-specific data that can be used to maximize the economic benefit for your farm, while also helping to prevent negative environmental impacts from applying excess nutrients.
- Curell, Christina. “What’s Your Manure IQ?” Progressive Dairyman Canada.
- Knorr, Bryce. “Weekly Fertilizer Review”. Farm Futures.
- Martin, Jerry and Douglas Beegle. “Manure Sampling for Nutrient Management Planning”. Penn State Extension.