Livestock Producers Test Their Manure to Enhance Utilization and Protect the Environment

Kris Kohl, Agricultural Engineering Field Specialist, Northwest


Manure from livestock operations is a valuable source of needed crop nutrients.  Because energy prices have gone up dramatically in recent years, so have the fertilizers that are derived from them or refined using a lot of energy.  This has made the proper application of manure an important management decision on livestock producers fields. 


Each year producers with manure management plans from the DNR who apply manure from their own livestock buildings can attend a two hour educational program to maintain their certification.  In 2006, ISU Extension presented research information on the importance of testing the manure and how this could insure excellent yields and improve water quality.  Producers learned about the changing feed industry and how it would impact the quality of the fertilizer value. 


Producers responded to a follow-up evaluation at the 2007 manure applicators certification meeting evaluating material presented in 2006.  Eighty-four percent (299/357) reported that they had collected manure samples and analyzed them for nutrient content.  Two thirds of those made adjustments to their manure application rate because of the results of the manure sampling data.  Fifty-seven percent increased their application rates, while forty-three percent decreased their rates due to the results of the test. 

Eighty-three percent of the producers made adjustments of less than 25 lbs of nitrogen application showing that the test results allow fine tuning to get the appropriate application rate to produce the crop without over-application, which would load lead to water quality concerns. 

As a result of the 2007 training 89% (N=369) of the producers report that they will or have implemented soil sampling strategies to comply with the P-index requirements and 88% will adopt or have adopted manure management strategies to comply with P-index and RUSLE 2 requirements.  These requirements are required by 2008 and 2009 showing that producers are well underway to meeting the new requirements. 

Eighty-seven percent (N=384) reported that the information they received was useful for their farm operation.  This is a high approval rating for a mandatory certification program. 

March 17, 2007
160- Natural Resources and Stewardship


Page last updated: May 11, 2007
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