Nitrate levels above the drinking water standard of 10 ppm are frequently found in subsurface drainage tile water or groundwater below farm fields of the upper Midwest. Nitrogen comes from applied manure and fertilizer, along with natural mineralization of organic matter.
Is there a correlation between soil health (or soil productivity) and manure? A Missouri team analyzed many soil health related variables and manure land application details, based on data collected under the Missouri Cover Crop Cost-Share Program and experimental plots. Continue reading
Soil health management refers to the preservation and improvement in soil physical, chemical, and biological properties to maximize the productive capacity of soil. Cover crops and reduced tillage are promoted for improving soil health; however, soil amendments such as application of livestock manure and municipal biosolids have received less attention as a soil health improvement practice. A literature review, funded by the North Central Region Water Network and the Soil Health Institute, was conducted to summarize and discuss results of studies reporting chemical, physical, and biological soil properties from application of livestock manure, animal by-products (i.e. compost), and municipal biosolids and to identify further research needs. 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.