Manure Manager

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From the Editor: Great things are in store


July 12, 2023  by  Bree Rody

Last month, our team got a much-needed dose of levity when going through the submissions for the North American Manure Expo’s annual “rejected slogans” contest, narrowing down to the top-50 and, eventually, the winning top-10. Just when you think you’ve heard all the manure jokes, our readers show us a few more!

Of course, we do sometimes get duplicate entries – classics like “we’re number one in the number two business” come around every year. That’s not a criticism, by the way. These slogan submissions endure because they’re true.

Another slogan that emerges every year is “Smells like money!” And if you’re a farmer, you know that feeling all too well. Whatever smells that might prompt the general public to turn up their noses – whether it’s manure, machinery, rendering or other processing – are all smells you know are important parts of the process. And if you already read Manure Manager every two months, I don’t need to tell you of the tremendous value one can extract from this so-called “waste” product.

But as much as manure “smells like money” to those who haul and spread it, there is still opportunity to extract even more value from manure. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, manure was applied to only about eight percent of the 240.0 million acres planted to seven major U.S. field crops in 2021. Of course, it’s not always a simple equation – 371 counties in the U.S. have been identified as having more manure-supplied nutrients than their crops need. Therefore, maximizing manure’s potential in terms of value means taking advantage of existing and emerging technologies – separating and processing manure can allow haulers to transport manure further afield with greater efficiency. Storing and composting manure in inventive new ways can generate energy and revenue while making the world a little greener.

Take, for example, poultry litter. While not applied at commercial scales as commonly as cattle and swine manure, producers and consumers alike are beginning to realize the value of the product for organic gardening. With the right storage and management techniques, they can stand to make big bucks off their poultry litter (page 12).  

Manure management, including storage, is an area in which one must constantly innovate and improve if they wish to extract maximum value from their product. But decisions aren’t always easy, considering storage is one of the largest and most long-term investments of a manure operation. There are many storage decisions that aren’t cheap or easily reversible. But we can still make the best of what we have.

As always, one can never lose sight of the opportunity present. Just look at all that acreage not fertilized by manure. So stay on the ball and remember: manure smells like money. But it can always smell like more. •

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