September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
There are a series of new spreadsheets developed by Bill Lazarus of the University of Minnesota that will aid producers in determining this. These spreadsheets were discussed during a seminar, "Maximizing the Economic Benefits of Manure," on Jan. 11 at the Central Minnesota Credit Union in Melrose, Minn.
"The potential for nutrient loss in our production systems is huge ... in terms of nitrogen and phosphorus. They're both getting to be real political issues," said University of Minnesota Extension Educator, Duane Starkey, who moderated the seminar. "From the agricultural standpoint, we really want to shore that up in terms of engaging it in a more profitable manner, which is utilizing those nutrients, utilizing those manure and fertilizer inputs and not losing them. By doing that we'll be able to respond to our calling as environmental stewards."
Following a brief presentation by Starkey regarding manure and nutrients found within it, those in attendance had the opportunity to input their own data into the spreadsheets to determine their manure's economic worth.
The spreadsheets themselves are designed to be tailored to each producer's specific needs, taking into account manure test results, costs of application, type of incorporation, other inputs, etc., after first determining the cost of fertilizer if no manure is used. By doing this, the producer can get a true value on their resource.
"Cost savings is huge. It's critical for all of those that are in the business in terms of the dairy and us in Extension," Starkey said. "... We're part of a team that wants to help dial this up in terms of the ag side of it and getting a more environmentally friendly plan in 2012 and 2013, but also first addressing the lower costs and higher yields of the profitability into your operation because it has to have those entities."
The spreadsheets are available online for anyone interested. You can download them by visiting http://z.umn.edu/manureworth and clicking on the MANURWKST.XLS link. Information on the value of manure can also be found on this Web site. For more information, contact your local Extension agency.
"Who Wants to be a 'Manurionaire?"
The seminar wrapped up with a presentation by Samantha Adams with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Her talk focused on various regulations regarding manure and manure application, but in a unique format. Adams presented her information as if those in attendance were on a game show - specifically, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" renamed to "Who Wants to be a 'Manurionaire'?"
"That's what I think of our producers," Adams said. "You guys are very valuable in the fact that you have this resource. It is something you can utilize on your crops."
The questions varied from "What size of facility is required to follow maximum nutrient rate limits?" and "Who is required to maintain a manure management plan?" to "What is the setback from lakes or protected wetlands - non-winter - when surface applying?" and "If liquid dairy cow manure is surface applied and incorporated within 12-96 hours after application, how much nitrogen is available the first year, assuming a manure test of 31 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 gallons and an application rate of 3,500 gallons per acre?"
The million dollar question: Why does any of this matter?
"Why does this matter to you? The bottom dollar, keeping the farm going, not spending a fortune on commercial fertilizer, keeping the manure out of the water, keeping the phosphorus on the field where we are going to get the best benefit from it? All of us are going to have different reasons for why we do this," Adams said. "... Manure is not a waste product any more. Manure is a commodity."[[In-content Ad]]