Welcome to the Manure Management Programs at Colorado State University!
Over-application of manure to fields in livestock-producing areas has led to degradation of both surface water and groundwater. Transportation costs are a major limitation to the movement of manure away from where it is produced.
Grain is hauled in as feed, but manure is not usually returned to the land that produces the required feed. Manure is bulky and low in nutrient content compared to fertilizer and therefore, it is costly to transport.
Our hypothesis is that when manure is used for higher value uses, economical transport distances will rise and soil quality will be improved while also protecting water quality.
Manure's Value: Farmers value manure primarily as a soil amendment that supplies organic matter and improves soil physical properties, not as a fertilizer.
Applications of manure don't only increase soil nutrient levels, but also increase soil organic matter levels; improve soil structure, water retention, drainage, and aeration; enhance the biological activity and diversity in soil; and increase crop yields.
High-value Use: Soil degradation is a worldwide problem of considerable importance because of its impact on our ability to grow food for the human population.
A recent report from the International Food Policy Research Institute stated that 40% of the world's farmland is seriously degraded. Sources of this degradation included soil erosion, loss of organic matter, hardening of soil, chemical penetration, nutrient depletion, and excess salinity.
Most of these soil degradation problems can be improved with manure application. Therefore, high-value manure uses may include restoration of eroded land, soils low in organic matter, and saline and/or sodic soils, or reclamation of minelands or forest fires.
Additional high-value uses may include turf and ornamental applications in growing urban markets. Organic farming is a potential market for manure that improves soil quality and is also of high-value due to the limited alternatives available to organic farmers.