LONDON, Ohio -- Manure is a tremendous fertilizer source that many crop producers have at their disposal, but managing manure effectively begins with knowing a soil's fertility criteria and then documenting and maintaining proper nutrient supply.
Robert Mullen, an Ohio State University Extension soil fertility specialist, will discuss how manure application rate and timing effect availability of nutrients and how to best utilize manure at a specific site during the Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo July 9. The free event will held at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio, from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
"Manure is a great fertilizer source, but it has a problem. It is an unbalanced nutrient source that has to be managed appropriately," said Mullen, who also holds an appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "The main goal of sound manure management is to utilize the nutrient resource at a location that will benefit most from a specific nutrient while keeping in mind that additional nutrients will be supplied from the application that may or may not be needed."
The best example of what can happen when manure is utilized improperly is supplementing a crop with nitrogen from a manure resource.
"One of the problems with manure application is growers apply manure for the nitrogen, but may forget about the phosphorus and potassium being added to the soil as well. Excess phosphorus can be a potential environmental hazard," said Mullen. "If phosphorus is not limiting production at a specific site, why would a producer want to underutilize his nutrient resource by supplying manure in that situation? Knowing the phosphorus level in the soil can help growers decide whether manure application in a certain field is necessary."
For farmers more interested in using manure to offset commercial fertilizer costs, Mullen will present topics on properly selecting sites for manure applications and accurately documenting nutrient supply from manure applications.
"The focus is to encourage animal producers to interact with crop producers. Proper manure management is about combating the cultural mindset of ‘I'm an animal producer. Manure is a waste. It has no redeeming value to me.' And marrying that with ‘I'm a crop producer. I can use the manure, but where do I need it.' That's why we spend so much time talking about it," said Mullen.
Mullen said with manure application increasing in Ohio, proper allocation of nutrient resources over crop fields is becoming increasingly important.
The theme of the Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo is "The Economics of Recycling" and will include commercial field demonstrations, educational demonstrations, educational sessions, and commercial vendor displays.
The event is sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Michigan State University, Purdue University, Penn State University and Cornell University. Additional sponsors include Ohio Composting and Manure Management and the Midwest Professional Nutrient Applicators Association.