Report says US dairies turning manure into profit
April 30, 2008 by Manure Manager
Dairies around the United States
are proving that with the right technologies and practices, they can
capture the agricultural and economic value of manure nutrients while
reducing manure’s impact on air quality, water quality and global
Dairies around the United States are proving that with the right technologies and practices, they can capture the agricultural and economic value of manure nutrients while reducing manure’s impact on air quality, water quality and global warming.
A new report by the National Dairy Environmental Stewardship Council shows how innovative dairy producers are transforming a challenging waste product into a valuable farm asset. The report also provides recommendations for how national policies and programs can better support efforts to develop, demonstrate and implement effective manure management tools and technologies.
“Manure is an ideal fertilizer for crops,” said Kristen Hughes, dairies project manager at Sustainable Conservation, a leader of the Council. “Manure becomes even more economical relative to inorganic commercial fertilizer when natural gas prices rise, since natural gas accounts for up to 90 percent of inorganic fertilizer production costs.”
In recent years, the price of natural gas has more than doubled, and in a single year farmers around the US paid $2 to $3 billion more in increased fertilizer costs. Exacerbated by the impact of recent hurricanes on Gulf Coast refineries, government forecasters are expecting significant increases in natural gas prices again this year. “That makes manure a very attractive fertilizer option for farmers and encourages dairy farmers to manage manure wisely and sell any excess to local farmers,” Hughes explained.
“In the face of increasing pressure to address water quality, air quality, odor and other conservation challenges, dairy farmers of all sizes are finding they need better, more innovative ways to manage and utilize their manure,” said Suzy Friedman, staff scientist at Environmental Defense. “Development, demonstration and implementation of economically viable manure management tools and technologies are critical to the survival of this important industry.”
The report, “Cost-Effective and Environmentally Beneficial Dairy Manure Management Practices,” provides detailed examples of cost-effective manure management strategies to assist producers in matching manure nutrients to crop needs and capturing nutrients in dairy manure, as well as specific quantified results. The report is available at http://www.suscon.org/dairies/ndesc.asp.