Storage system impacts value of livestock manure
February 19, 2016, Winnipeg, Man – An Extension professor in economics with the University of Missouri says the method of storing livestock manure will dramatically impact its fertilizer value.
Increasingly, livestock manure is being treated as a valuable resource rather than a waste to be disposed of.
How to Extract More Value From Manure was among the topics discussed earlier this month in Winnipeg as part of the 2016 Manitoba Swine Seminar.
Dr. Ray Massey, an Extension professor in economics with the University of Missouri, says farmers usually think of livestock manure as having three key crop nutrients and, while it may have other values such as organic matter, most crop farmers are looking at the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium it contains and, because they can be equivalently used, their value could be as high as what ever commercial fertilizer is selling for.
“The cheapest storage historically has been to create what we call a lagoon,” he says. “It’s outside storage, earthen, lined, the nitrogen tends to dissipate in the summer when the temperatures are warm.”
“That’s the cheapest storage but it also has manure that has the least value and so I encourage farmers to say I’m not just trying to minimize my cost, I want to maximize my net value, which is the total value minus my cost.”
“At that point, the lagoon still has its place in some locations but, if you are a crop farmer or in a farming region, it’s much better to go with a storage system that will conserve the nutrients, allow it to be spread evenly and give you a more consistent manure product,” he adds. “It may cost you a little bit more but in the long term, even in the sort term, you are saving money by doing it that way.”
Dr. Massey says, through good management, producers can double the value of their manure.