Fertiliser Frenzy Reinforces Manure Values

OHIO - Pig manure is valuable - and not only in terms of soil nutrients. With fertilizer prices rocketing this pigmeat production by-product is could be a golden asset to cash strapper livestock farmers.
calendar icon 4 March 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Ohio State University Extension research says that sidedressing pre-emergent corn in the spring with swine manure produces yields comparable to applying commercial fertilizer.

"At today's fertilizer prices, using manure from livestock could easily save farmers $75 to $100 per acre in purchased fertilizer," said Glen Arnold, an OSU Extension educator in Putnam County.

Not only can springtime manure application potentially fatten a farmer's wallet, but it can also benefit the environment.

There is less chance for nutrient loss in the spring as opposed to the fall, because the manure is actually going to a growing crop that will utilize its nutrients.

Several years of research has shown that applying swine manure to post-emergent corn produces comparable or higher yields to commercial urea. OSU Extension educators in Putnam and Hancock counties have now found the same results are achievable in treating pre-emergent corn.

"We've always known that manure provides good nutrients for the soil. The idea is to find a way to make better use of it than applying it to bare fields in the fall," says Arnold.

"In 2007, we completed research on three pre-emergence corn plots using liquid swine manure as the primary nitrogen source. Two of the three plots yielded the same or higher compared to urea."

Don't Discard

He says that farmers could potentially be throwing away an economically valuable resource if a spring or early summer application to growing crops is not a consideration. For expample in Putnam County, which is the fourth-largest swine-producing county in the state, if farmers fully utilize the ammonia nitrogen in their liquid swine manure they could save over $500,000 annually through reductions in purchased nitrogen.

Arnold, who has been leading the research since 2004, will present the latest OSU Exotension findings at the Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo on 9 July 2008 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio. He hopes his presentation will convince farmers of the economic and nutrient value of manure applications in the spring. This research project is on-going and has recently been given a boost by a $10,000 grant from the Ohio Pork Producers Council and the donation of equipment from the Barnyard Supply.

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