Livestock Manure an Environmentally Friendly Fertilizer Option

CANADA - Research conducted in Saskatchewan has shown, when applied in balance according to manure nutrient analysis and soil testing, livestock manure is an environmentally friendly fertilizer option, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 20 May 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

The University of Saskatchewan in collaboration with the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been conducting long and short term manure fertilizer trials at sites throughout Saskatchewan since the early 1990's.

Soil research scientist Dr. Jeff Schoenau says researchers have looked at several different aspects of the environmental impact of using manure fertilizer including nutrients, metals and salts and what it really comes down to is a matter of balance.

Dr. Jeff Schoenau-University of Saskatchewan

What we've found in these trials is that when you apply manure nutrients at a rate that is in balance with the crops requirement and removal over time that in fact you get maximum recovery of those manure nutrients, really no issues with buildup or loading in the soil and really no adverse effects on the physical condition of the soil either.

The organic matter, in soils of low organic matter, is of a benefit.

The thing to watch out for in some manure sources is the nitrogen to phosphorus balance.

If you're applying manure to meet all of the nitrogen and the manure is high in phosphorous you will end up over applying phosphorus year after year and you'll end up with some loading issues.

And it's under those circumstances, where you build up that available soluble phosphorus in the soil, that you can run into problems with water moving across that soil carrying the phosphorus into water bodies.

And that's why paying attention to the balance of all nutrients is important.

Dr. Schoenau suggests when applying manure that has a high phosphorus content relative to nitrogen you would apply that manure according to a phosphorus based recommendation and then look at supplementing with commercial nitrogen fertilizer.

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