Managing Manture It's all in the Planning

Although manure has been used as a crop fertilizer for thousands of years, chemical fertilizers became a more popular means of helping crops grow.

“Fifteen years ago people put manure out, but put fertilizer on top of that,” said Mark Moeller, crop consultant with Centrol Crop Consulting in Marshall.

Since then the farming industry has become confident that manure is equivalent to chemical fertilizers, Moeller said.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture describes manure management as the “careful handling and use of livestock manure to obtain its full value as a crop nutrient while protecting water and air quality.”

Manure is beneficial to farmers because it offers nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus and additional micronutrients in an organic capacity.

“Our native soils have plenty of micronutrients already,” Moeller said.

However, micronutrients like sulfur and zinc are an added benefit when using manure as fertilizer, he said.

Those nutrients do not come in a commercial fertilizer unless specifically ordered, according to Moeller.

“When you buy a fertilizer from a co-op, you get what you order,” Moeller said.

Other benefits of using manure include: reducing or eliminating the need for commercial fertilizer, it can help improve crop use of nitrogen and it can improve soil productivity, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

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