Article originally published by farmweeknow.com - RFD Radio Network - Click Here to View Original Story
By Dan Grant
Published on: Feb 5, 2017
Manure offers total nutrient package, but what's it worth?
Learn how to get full value from livestock waste.
Livestock manure surfaced as more of a commodity than a waste product over the years as farmers realized its value as a crop fertilizer.
But as the livestock industry continues to expand in Illinois, many farmers still struggle to put a value on the nutrients provided by their animals.
Laura Pepple, project manager for Puck Custom Enterprises and former University of Illinois Extension livestock specialist, helps farmers properly value manure and incorporate manure-management plans into their operations.
Manure provides a good source of macronutrients, improves soil quality, reduces soil erosion and saves money on commercial fertilizers.
“It’s the complete nutrient package,” Pepple told farmers at the Illinois Pork Expo. “Look at what the corn and soybean crops need. There’s a lot of minor nutrients in there a commercial fertilizer may not supply.”
Every 1,000 gallons of manure from a typical 2,500-head swine finishing barn provides about 47 pounds of nitrogen, 33 pounds of potassium and 23 pounds of phosphorus, Pepple noted.
“You have to think about what is the value (of the manure) based on current fertilizer prices,” she said. “Values have leveled off to about $35 per 1,000 gallons.”
Manure values leveled off in recent years as commercial fertilizer prices fell from historic highs. The average cost of anhydrous ammonia in the state, as of Feb. 2, poked above $500 per ton at $504 as the value increased $8.94 per ton the past two weeks.
So, if a farmer takes the value of all the manure from a 2,500-head swine barn ($27,000) and subtracts the average application cost ($16,200), it currently leaves a final value of around $10,800 per barn.
“If you’re selling it to a neighbor, make sure you’re charging enough to cover your application cost,” Pepple said.
Farmers should also consider the fact that manure provides benefits that are hard to quantify in a price tag, such as improved soil quality, tilth and organic matter.
“One of the immediate benefits (of a manure application) is increased water-holding capacity,” Pepple said. “It binds the soil particles together.”
Farmers also should implement a manure-management plan to maximize its value, apply the right amount in the right environment and make sure application equipment meets expectations.
Iowa State University research found that distributors in some toolbars produce as much as a 50 percent difference in output from shank to shank, which can result in streaking.
Farmers should shoot for application equipment that has less than a 10 percent difference in distribution from each shank, Pepple added.
Laura Pepple, left, project engineer for Puck Custom Enterprises, discusses manure values with Rita Frazer, of the RFD Radio Network®, during the Illinois Pork Expo in Springfield.
Audio: Pepple talks with RFD Radio’s Rita Frazer about the importance of using the right technology to apply manure.
Audio available at: http://farmweeknow.com/story-manure-offers-total-nutrient-package-whats-worth-0-155119
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