Manure Manager

Swine waste feeds grassland pastures in demo

June 20, 2008  by  Marg Land


Swine waste feeds grassland pastures in demo

The Conservation Reserve Program Research and Demonstration
Farm in Iowa is hosting a field day for both cattle and hog
producers demonstrating the application of liquid swine waste onto pasture.

June 20, 2008, Corning, IA – Commercial fertilizers have reached record high prices this year. While corn and soybean prices are also reaching new market highs, the price for cattle and sheep are not matching such inflation. This has some livestock producers thinking about alternatives to dry fertilizer that may be more affordable. For some, that could mean the confinement swine barn down the road. But, is liquid swine manure useable on grass pastures? How can it be applied without tearing up the sod? Will smell be a problem? 


These questions are the topic of a summer demonstration study and field day that will be held June 30 at the Conservation Reserve Program Research and Demonstration Farm, located north of Corning, Iowa. At that field day, both cattle and hog producers can see the application of liquid swine waste into pasture. They will also be able to see a test plot that has had the liquid hog manure applied on May 27.

Cropland, particularly cornfields, will always be the target of liquid swine manure for fertilization purposes. However, there are times when it makes sense to also put it onto pastures. A major question of many grass and hay producers is whether this application will do more harm than good. Will the application cause both in physical disruption and/or nitrogen “burning.” This demonstration field day will show some results.
“There are times when a swine operation needs to move out manure,” says Chris Nelson, chairman of the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee. “That can be a scheduled application, or an unscheduled emergency. Summer application to cropland is not usually a choice because it will cause soil disruption and injury to crops. If the manure can be applied to pasture grass with little or no tillage disturbance, this will greatly enhance the forage production when cropland is not available. This demonstration at the CRP Research and Demonstration Farm … will show swine producers and cattle producers that they can both benefit by applying manure fertilizer to pastures in the summer months.”

The CRP Demo Farm field day will have the swine manure discussion and demonstration after a free light supper starting at 6:45 pm.

From 5:00 to 6:45 p.m., a pasture walk will be held that showcasing the results of two other grazing experiments ongoing at the farm. The first will be the results of a 2007 fescue pasture renovation program called Spray-Smother-Spray. In this program, the pasture was killed in early 2007 and a corn crop was planted. That corn was later subdivided by electric fencing and then grazed before maturity as a forage crop. Now in 2008, that field is being reseeded into reed canarygrass with a pearl millet cover.

The other experiment being showcased is the use of controlled fire burning of sections of a pasture to improve quality and production.  This “Patch Burn” grazing system is being demonstrated on both warm and cool season grasses in one open continuously grazed pasture. Fires were set to parts of these pastures on March 26, 2008. This is year three of this five year grazing study.  

For more information concerning the CRP Farm Summer Field Day, contact the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee at the Adams County Extension Office at 641-322-3184 or email

The farm is located two miles north of Corning Iowa. Directional signs will be posted on Highway 148 north of Corning to assist visitors. For long distance travelers to the field day, the Lake Icaria Park campground is only one mile further north of the farm.


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