ANALYSIS - Manure has some value based solely on its nutrient composition, but how much is it really worth?
Dr. Brad Joern, Professor at Purdue University, shared the factors that impact the value of manure at an educational seminar at the 2014 World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
"The actual value of manure depends on many factors, including when, where, how, how much and how well that manure is applied," he said. "Without a manure analysis you really don’t have any idea how many nutrients are present in your box, side slinger or honey wagon spreader."
Once you have your analysis, the method and timing of application will certainly affect the amount of nitrogen in your manure that a crop has a chance to take up.
Your soil test of phosphorus and potassium levels will also impact the value of your manure. There is a big difference in the value of manure phosphorus and potassium if they are replacing commercial fertilizer that you would otherwise purchase compared to applying that same manure to fields near the barn with excessively high soil test levels.
Loading the spreader and hauling the manure to the closest field will need done, so the extra cost of hauling it to more distant fields is based on time and distance from the nearest field.
Dr. Joern encouraged farmers to calculate their ROI.
"Hauling manure ties up time, equipment and people, so there are opportunity costs for hauling manure," he said. "When do you have time and equipment available to do it? How big is your spreader? If your tractor can handle it, doubling the size of your spreader cuts your hauling costs in half."
Field size and shape should be something you consider when hauling manure. If you are constantly running out of manure halfway across the field, you are probably not using a rate to make manure hauling as efficient as possible.
How your state determines manure nutrient availability matters too, especially if you are tied to these guidelines as a regulated facility.
Click here to watch the presentation.
Top image via Shutterstock