What setback distance is required to reduce the concentration of manure constituents in runoff to background values? John E. Gilley, Aaron J. Sindelar, and Bryan L. Woodbury, researchers with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, examined the effects of setback distance on concentrations of selected constituents in runoff following land application of beef cattle manure to a site in Southeast Nebraska (Figure 1). Continue reading
What does soil texture have to do with manure? Sand bedding has become a popular choice at many dairies due to the cow comfort and health benefits it offers. A question raised at manure application time is how does sand in the manure impact the health of my soils? While using sand laden manure as a fertilizer source does add sand to the soil, the change is small and would take about 100 years for a silt loam soil to see a change in soil texture. Continue reading
If manure increases formation of larger (macro) and more stable soil aggregates, several benefits may result for fields fertilized by manure compared to commercial fertilizer including:
- Reduced runoff and soil erosion;
- Increased water infiltration into the soil possibly leading to greater drought tolerance; and
- Partial offsetting of higher soil P levels resulting from manure application and limiting P loss to local surface water.
Farmers and ranchers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of soil quality/health to the productivity and sustainability of their agricultural system. Research and field observations have demonstrated that carefully managed manure applications can contribute to improved soil quality with limited environmental and social risks. However, a comprehensive assemblage of outputs and conclusions from research studies, field trials, soil labs databases, and other sources has never been developed. Continue reading
In 1987, a long-term cropping systems study started at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center. Three sets of 4-year crop rotations are replicated three times each year. The ninth cycle ended in 2016. This article will discuss some of the effects of using composted beef manure on soil properties and selected crop yields. Continue reading
Manure and Soil Health: What is the State of the Science? Can manure be both an economic ‘Win’ and an environmental ‘Win’? What fields provide the best opportunity for Win/Win? What exactly are the environmental and soil health wins associated with manure? Can we test soils so that we better understand the value of manure nutrients and carbon? What are the biological processes in a soil system that benefit from organic fertilizers? These and other questions are the topics a new working group addressing Manure and Soil Health (MaSH) plan to address.