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Management of Manure Key to Maximising Its Value

11 March 2016, at 6:00am

US - An Extension Professor in Economics with the University of Missouri says how manure is managed will play a significant role in determining the dollar value of that manure, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Livestock manure is typically viewed as containing 3 key crop nutrients and, while it may have other values such as organic matter, most crop farmers are looking at its nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium contents.

Dr Ray Massey, an Extension Professor in Economics with the University of Missouri, says the value of livestock manure fertilizer is often discounted in relation to commercial fertilizer but there's a host of management decisions that can increase the value of manure.

Dr Ray Massey-University of Missouri:

If you put it on a crop that needs nitrogen, such as corn or wheat, it'll have more value because you have the nitrogen demand than if you put it on soybeans which does not need a nitrogen.

If you inject it where the nitrogen is preserved instead of putting it on the surface where it might dissipate out, you again increase its value.

If you put it in a rotation which needs more of all the different nutrients, it can increase its value.
In terms of application, you probably want to try and get it in the ground as soon as possible so an injection is great.

If you don't inject it, you can surface apply it and incorporate it afterwards.

Some people don't like to do that because they're using a no till system but, if they're not using a no till systems, incorporate it in rather quickly.

If you just surface apply it, the P and K are going to be there.

For Canada you might need to worry about the frozenness of the soil when you apply it so that it doesn't run off.

But if your soils are warm, putting it on the surface you're still going to get all your P and K and it's not going to run off.

Dr Massey says, because the nutrients contained in manure can be equivalently used, their value can be as high as what ever commercial fertilizer is selling for and suggests, through good management, you can double the value of manure.

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