Field Crops
Field-applied manure supplies two main forms of nitrogen: organic N, and ammonium N. The ammonium portion is immediately available for plants to use, and the organic portion is not and needs time to break down to become plant-available.
Published in Manure Application
In 2013, Pennsylvanian hog farmer and retired high school teacher, Virgil Gutshall Sr., and his son, Virgil Jr., began to explore various application methods for planting cover crops while side dressing and incorporating hog manure into his corn crops. Virgil Jr., owner and operator of Beaver Ridge Farm, Inc., finishes hogs for Country View Family Farms.  
Published in Profiles
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Texas has announced the first application funding deadline of July 22, 2019 for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) under current approved Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) projects.
Published in News
Are you searching for the latest research and information related to manure? Then, the North American Manure Expo is a can't miss event!
Published in News
Early adaptors of precision application tools say there are numerous benefits that come with implementing the technology.
Published in Manure Application
Precision agriculture means using variable rates based on management zones, and it has been gaining popularity over the past decade. Variable rate planting and commercial fertilizer application are the most common types of precision agriculture, but manure may soon be joining their ranks.
Published in Manure Application
The application of livestock manure to farm fields has always been an expense for producers. On-farm research plots were assessed in Ohio following application of liquid swine and liquid dairy manure using drag hoses to provide side-dress nitrogen to emerged corn.
Published in Manure Application
What are the benefits of manure over fertilizer? Jeff Schoenau, professor of soil fertility at the University of Saskatchewan and a professional agrologist, explains.
Published in Profiles
Weather impacts both manure application and loss of nutrients on crop utilization.
Published in Dairy
Turkey manure is a great source of nutrients for crops. Farmers understand that turkey waste is not waste at all, but a valuable (though smelly) resource. As a nitrogen and phosphorus source, it outpaces nearly every other livestock type. And aside from nutrients, it adds organic matter to the soil which, over time, improves water holding capacity and infiltration. You might say it’s some good … “stuff”.
Published in Poultry
The Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative (PRC) has chosen five projects from 11 proposals to develop and test technologies that intercept and remove phosphorus from agricultural runoff. Phosphorus entering the system contributes to the growth of harmful algal blooms in the Thames River and Lake Erie.
Published in News
This spring started cool and wet, delaying planting season, but was followed by a beautiful early summer with warm temperatures and heat units that pushed crops forward quickly. As harvest season has neared, we have been faced with some wet conditions slowing harvest.
Published in Manure Application
It’s a beautiful spring day as you drive along a country road. The sun is out and your windows are rolled down when suddenly an offensive odor hits you right in the nostrils. Someone hit a skunk. What is it about this smell that makes it so offensive? Does this have any relation to the odor of livestock manure?
Published in Air quality
Manure applied to wheat crops or to forage crops can be an excellent option, but not in winter on frozen soils.
Published in Other
While April showers might bring May flowers, they also contribute to toxic algae blooms, dead zones and declining water quality in U.S. lakes, reservoirs and coastal waters, a new study shows.
Published in Other

Years ago, it was tradition for farmers to grow a variety of crops on their farm. There was limited food distribution to large grocery stores, and most of the food was grown locally. So, a farmer could be cropping cotton and sweet potatoes in one area of their farm. On another area, graze beef cattle, dairy, or chickens on forage crops like annual clovers, perennial tall fescue, wheat pasture, and native rangeland.

Pastures and hayland were rotated with crops so that the same enterprise was not on the same field year after year. Diversity of enterprises on each farm helped create stability in the production system.

With the advent of large farming equipment and commercial fertilizers following World War II, it became more efficient from a labor standpoint to grow the same types of crop year after year.

After investing in equipment to handle a particular crop like corn, farmers often became more specialized. This led to monoculture cropping, which can have positive effects on yields and efficiency. But, monoculture has some drawbacks, including environmental and social concerns.

The need for greater nutrient inputs with monoculture can lead to poor water quality underground or from run-off. Confined operations have the issue of disposing of large volumes of manure.

Interest in re-integrating farms to take advantage of the synergies between crops and livestock has increased in the past few decades. Our lab has embarked on researching such integrated systems as a way to improve agricultural sustainability.

Crop-pasture rotations are part of an integrated system. Farmers can match the energy and nutrient flows of different enterprises (i.e. types of livestock and types of crops) to meet the desired outcomes.

Ruminant livestock consume forages, often on pasture by themselves during much of the year. Animal manures are deposited directly on the land where they graze. Alternatively, they can be confined in areas during parts of the year with conserved forages, e.g. hay or silage.

Manures can also be collected from confinement areas and applied to cropland. This recycles and effectively utilizes nutrients throughout the entire system and can substantially reduce chemical fertilizer needs for cropping.

Forage grasses used for grazing often have extensive, fibrous root systems. These roots hold soil particles together. All plants take carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into simple sugars during photosynthesis.

Compared with annual crops, forage grasses form a thick mat over the soil, and can enrich the amount of carbon in soil more than annual crops. Forage legumes are capable of converting nitrogen from the atmosphere and add nitrogen to the soil as well.

The large gain in soil organic carbon under perennial pastures is a key benefit of integrated crop-livestock systems.

Pasturing is also an important adaptation strategy to overcome drought. Pastures can partially control flooding by improving water infiltration and soil health. Forage and grazing lands have historically provided a sustainable and resilient land cover. Grazing lands are rooted by a variety of grasses and forbs that serve to provide essential ecosystem services:

  • Water cycling
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Gas exchange with the atmosphere
  • Erosion control and landscape stabilizing
  • Climate moderation
  • Food and feed production, and,
  • Aesthetic experience

Integrated agricultural systems have the potential to adapt to weather extremes. This can make them more climate-resilient than monoculture systems. For example, integrated crop-livestock systems rely on forages as part of a diversity of crop choices. These forages provide a large benefit for positive balance of carbon stored in soil. Crops grown in rotation with forages can be more profitable, since yields are often enhanced and costly fertilizer inputs can be lower. The presence of forages can reduce nutrient runoff and reduce nitrous oxide emissions.1

The diversity of farming operations in integrated crop-livestock systems reduces the overall risk of failure. By having several different crops on a farm, the risk of any one component failing is reduced.

This diversity also offers resilience of the farming system against extreme weather events and potential climate change. Greater integration of crops and livestock using modern technologies could broadly transform agriculture to enhance productivity.

Integrated crop-livestock systems can also reduce environmental damage, protect and enhance biological diversity, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Integrated systems likely provide healthier potentially more diverse foods and increase economic and cultural opportunities in many different regions of the world.

Diverse agricultural systems that include livestock, perennial grasses and legumes, and a wide variety of annual forages offer enhanced agro-ecosystem resilience in the face of uncertain climate and market conditions.

Indeed, there are many good reasons why a diversity of crops and livestock should be produced on the same farm and even the same field within a farm.

Published in Beef
With water quality in the Chesapeake Bay suffering from excess nutrients and fish populations in rivers such as the Susquehanna experiencing gender skewing and other reproductive abnormalities, understanding how to minimize runoff of both nutrients and endocrine-disrupting compounds from farm fields after manure applications is a critical objective for agriculture.
Published in Other
Smithfield Foods and Anuvia Plant Nutrients recently announce a new partnership to create sustainable fertilizer from solids collected from the manure treatment systems at Smithfield’s hog farms.
Published in Swine
The foul scent of manure is a fact of life in the country. Sometimes it smells like home. Other times the stink is bad enough to wrinkle your nose as you urgently roll up the car windows.

Odor management rules are among the many regulations defining how animal farmers handle never ending piles of manure or the way it is spread on fields for fertilizer.

The spread of manure by Pennsylvania farmers is regulated to keep pollutants from seeping into the air and waterways.

A bill moving quickly through the state Legislature would remove an advisory panel with input on those regulations, the Nutrient Management Advisory Board, and replace it with a new panel, the Farm Animal Advisory Board, broadening the scope of oversight and changing the make-up of the members to mostly large farmers. The move minimizes the role of environmentalists, critics say. | READ MORE
Published in State
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has teamed up with the National Weather Service to design a tool that helps farmers and commercial applicators determine the best time to apply manure.

The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool uses past and predicted National Weather Service weather data like precipitation, temperature, and snow melt. It predicts the likelihood that applied manure will run off fields in daily, next day, and 72-hour increments.

Farmers and commercial applicators use an interactive map to locate their field and find the forecasted risk.

Users can also sign up for email or text messages for their county that alert them to a severe runoff risk for that day.

"By providing this information, we hope to give our farmers and commercial manure applicators the tools they need to make well-informed decisions," said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. "By being able to better predict times of high runoff risk, we can decrease the potential loss of manure to our waterways and increase farm productivity by saving nutrients on the land. It is a win-win situation based on an easy-to-use tool."

When someone goes to the interactive map, the runoff risk is displayed in one of four categories: no runoff expected, low, moderate, and severe. When the risk is moderate or severe, it is recommended that the applicator evaluate the situation to determine if there are other locations or later dates when the manure application could take place.

The forecasting tool can also be used by others looking for climate information including two-inch soil depth temperatures which are useful at planting time, and six-inch soil depth temperatures which are helpful when determining fall fertilizer application in appropriate areas.

The Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is part of a larger federal project. The National Weather Service has provided data and guidance to states to create similar tools in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. State funding for the project was provided by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.
Published in Manure Application
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