Research Seeks Environmentally Friendly Manure Management

by 5m Editor
10 January 2008, at 8:38am

CANADA - New research being conducted by the University of Manitoba is looking for ways to manage livestock manure without imposing significant risks to the environment, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of a multidisciplinary project, at the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment at Glenlea, scientists will be monitoring the movement of phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients and micro nutrients in the soil and the uptake of nutrients by crops under two cropping systems.

Dr. Don Flaten, a professor in the University of Manitoba's department of soil science says four different types of manure application, liquid pig manure, solid pig manure stockpile, solid pig manure composted and solid dairy manure will be compared to a synthetic fertilizer treatment and an unfertilized check.

Dr. Don Flaten-University of Manitoba

If you take a look at the amount of fertilizer, nitrogen and phosphorus that's used in Manitoba, somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of the nutrients that are applied in Manitoba are applied as synthetic fertilizers.

If you look at phosphate fertilizer costing 600 dollars a tonne or anhydrous ammonia costing 800 dollars a tonne, it's pretty obvious that livestock manure if it's available should be recycled as efficiently as possible to try and substitute for some of those synthetic fertilizers.

I think in terms of the economics therefor it's pretty obvious that there's a substantial benefit to making use of those manure nutrients.

As far as some of the other aspects go, the more that we understand about nutrient behavior, I think the better we can provide information for the people who design policies and regulations to make sure that they make sense for our types of manure in our soils under our climatic conditions.

Dr. Flaten expects results from the initial phase of the study within the next couple of years but the hope is that this will become a long term rotational study that, 10 or 15 years from now, will provide other information about the long term benefits or risks associated with manure application.

5m Editor