Imagine that you are a farmer and you are looking at fertilizer options for your fields. You also have dairy cows on your farm that produce about 150 pounds of manure a day. When you put these two things together and you have an inexpensive way to feed nutrients into your fields.
Manure contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients, all which make manure a suitable fertilizer for crops. Manure also adds organic matter to the soil, which can improve soil structure, aeration, soil moisture-holding capacity and water infiltration.
The amount of manure produced on one farm does not necessarily hold the same nitrogen value as the next. There are many factors that determine the nitrogen content that is fed into the soil. It varies between the animal species, feed ration, age of manure, storage and bedding for starters.
Manure is most profitable when it is…
- applied to fields near the farming operation
- has relatively high nutrient concentration
- is applied to a crop or crop rotation that can utilize all the nutrients
Farmers are recycling. The integration of manure as a fertilizer helps in the disposal of manure and gives nutrients to the crops that feed the animals that produce manure.
Look for a post in the near future that will talk about how to find the right balance of manure for your farm fields using nutrient management plans.