Management Helps Maximize Value of Livestock Manure

by 5m Editor
16 May 2008, at 10:16am

CANADA - The Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative says, under proper management, livestock manure is an excellent and cost effective source of crop nutrients, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As a result of the dramatically increasing costs of commercial fertilizers, growing numbers of farmers are looking more favourably at the benefits of using livestock manure.

Manitoba Livestock Manure management Initiative executive director Brandy Street cautions, in many cases, the use of livestock manure requires a higher level of management.

Brandy Street-Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative

Manure is an excellent fertilizer and as long as you have access to it there's good value in applying it.

It's an excellent source of organic matter and that improves soil's health and water holding capacity and therefor it improves its suitability for crop growth and manure also contains micro-nutrients such as copper, boron and zinc that most producers who are using commercial fertilizer don't apply so producers are finding that they're getting higher crop yields from manure just because of the micro-nutrients.

But looking at the cons, number one, manure is costly to transport and apply because of its higher water content.

So most crop farmers don't have easy access to manure, making the cost of transportation too high to make manure use economical.

Manure is also unbalanced in its nutrient makeup so nutrients may vary from batch to batch and improper management is another con just because it can lead to a loss of manure nutrients.

If a producer wants to ensure that he or she is getting the most nitrogen value out of the manure then they should look at the best application methods and injection immediately or within 24 hours after spreading is the best application method because it will greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere and increase the nitrogen value of that manure.

Street notes, whether applying manure or commercial fertilizer, many of the same nutrient management principles apply like soil testing, applying nutrients at times when the crops can best utilize them and not leaving nutrients on the surface where they can be lost to the atmosphere or run into water supplies.

5m Editor