Farm Horizons, October 2012

If manure were a flower, what kind would it be?

By Lori Brinkman
Assistant Carver County Feedlot Administrator

You can only write so many articles about feedlots and manure management before writer’s block sets in. I’ve covered the feedlot regulatory framework, the value of implementing best management practices when surface applying manure, land application setback requirements, variability of feedlot regulations from county to county, and the value of staying involved in proposed changes to your local feedlot ordinance.

So, in the absence of a topic I’m going to address the question presented in the title – “If manure were a flower, what kind would it be?”

The answer to the above question is quite simple. If manure were a flower, it would be a rose, and if you read on you will understand exactly why.

Just as with roses, there is no mistaking the smell of manure. During the next couple months, there will be tons of manure hauling going on (literally) from emptying basins to cleaning up stock piles.

If you will be emptying your manure storage area or plan to cover a field with pen pack or a short-term stockpile, it is a good idea to make sure your neighbor isn’t planning a beautiful, outdoor fall wedding. It might ruin their day and create a feud that lasts a lifetime.

In addition, be aware that you can contact your local feedlot administrator to take advantage of a three-day odor exemption that will protect you from complaints concerning manure application odors.

As I said before, however, courtesy is important in cultivating long-term relationships with your neighbors.

Till in manure in a timely manner to reduce odor and maximize nutrient credits.

The second reason manure would be a rose is, just as with roses, there are many different kinds of manure, and each has its own definition and appropriate use.

If you wanted to cover a wall or a trellis with a rose plant, you wouldn’t plant a Floribunda Rose. You would plant a climbing rose.

If you wanted to boost the fertility of a field low in nutrients, you wouldn’t apply bedded pack manure heavy in bedding material with little actual manure. You would utilize the manure highest in nutrient value. This can be determined by submitting a manure sample to a manure testing lab.

Knowing your application rate and getting the manure tilled into the soil in a timely manner would also be beneficial in knowing how many pounds of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium you can credit to next year’s nutrient demand.

In addition, just as you would never think of buying your wife a blue or a black rose when the occasion calls for red, you would never surface-apply liquid manure on steep slopes with a sensitive area below. The risks are simply too great in both instances and the effects could last a lifetime.

Lastly, the benefits of roses either planted in your garden or given to you in a bouquet, will last much longer with proper management. Likewise, know your nutrient value, application rate, and apply appropriately to maximize your manure benefits.

And that is why if manure were a flower, it would be a rose.

Stay safe this harvest season!

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