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Replacing commercial fertilizer with manure

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Whitewing

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Is it practical to even try to replace it totally or am I just better off to accept that I'm still going to have to buy some of the commercial product?

I ask because we're now having to jump through flaming hoops to buy something as simple as urea. I've got lots of the natural stuff on hand because our animals spend every night in corrals.
 

LazyWP

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It all depends on your cropping goals. Having been in the commercial fertilizer and chemical application business, I have seen places where the farmer never used any commercial fertilizer, and very little chemical. I have been out of the business for awhile, but if I remember correctly, if you just use manure, you need to watch you phosphate levels. They can become toxic over time. The other thing you need to watch are the weed seeds. Unless composted, cattle manure has LOTS of weed seeds that GERMINATE in good cropping places.
 

Whitewing

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LazyWP said:
It all depends on your cropping goals. Having been in the commercial fertilizer and chemical application business, I have seen places where the farmer never used any commercial fertilizer, and very little chemical. I have been out of the business for awhile, but if I remember correctly, if you just use manure, you need to watch you phosphate levels. They can become toxic over time. The other thing you need to watch are the weed seeds. Unless composted, cattle manure has LOTS of weed seeds that GERMINATE in good cropping places.

We do compost the manure. We'd be putting it on bermuda primarily.
 

Big Muddy rancher

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Whitewing said:
LazyWP said:
It all depends on your cropping goals. Having been in the commercial fertilizer and chemical application business, I have seen places where the farmer never used any commercial fertilizer, and very little chemical. I have been out of the business for awhile, but if I remember correctly, if you just use manure, you need to watch you phosphate levels. They can become toxic over time. The other thing you need to watch are the weed seeds. Unless composted, cattle manure has LOTS of weed seeds that GERMINATE in good cropping places.

We do compost the manure. We'd be putting it on bermuda primarily.

The ideal thing to do would be to soil test and get your manure tested . You could then know what your are to apply and what you would need to purchase.
 

George

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Manure is a very valuable asset but like anything you need to know what you are dealing with.

I have both the manure and the soil tested and then apply as needed. I try to save the manure to apply to the clay hill tops as I get much better bang for my buck there. The clay knolls are normally not as productive as the bottom ground but with manure applied in the right amounts I can get just as good a crop on the knolls! I feel the manure helps with worm activity and slightly increases organic matter as well as bringing needed nutrents to the soil.

The worm activity and nutrients are in good supply in the flat ground so I save my manure for the areas where it does the most good.
 

Mike

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I would say to use the manure and make up the difference with commercial fertilizer.

I have had several composted manure piles and lot's of chicken litter tested, and found it to be around a 1-1-1 analysis.

That works out to 20 lbs. of each component per ton of applied manure per acre.

Most soils here need more than that, but once you get the soil nutrients balanced, it doesn't take that much.

Grazing ground doesn't need that much but "Hay" ground needs much more.

Manure has a distinct advantage over commercial fertilizers in that it contains lots of micro-organisms that plants love and thrive on.

Phosphate build-up can be a problem unless you stay on top of it.
 

Larrry

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Whitewing said:
Mike said:
Phosphate build-up can be a problem unless you stay on top of it.

Exactly what does one do to mitigate phosphate build-up?

I think your best aproach on that is to put on commercial fert with out the phos at intervals mainly based on your soil test. Besides phos can get expensive.
 

George

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You must keep your soil test current ( every other year is OK ) and when the phosphate levels start to climb spread elseware.

Manure is great as it has many of the elements that are only needed in very small amounts but you must not over do it - - - - spread it around.

The large dairy and poultry farms around here will give you the manure as they don't have enough ground to spread it on without causing problems. If you have ground where they can inject it in the summer months they will pay you to allow them to inject it and they do test - - - I'm about 10 miles to far from them but several of my friends are taking full advantage of this and so far it is working out great for all involved.
 

littlejoe

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Whitewing said:
Mike said:
Phosphate build-up can be a problem unless you stay on top of it.

Exactly what does one do to mitigate phosphate build-up?

I think it's more of a problem with manure generated from hi levels of grain feeding. Maybe don't even apply to your situation?

Several advantages to manure---slower releasing, improves tilth, improves water holding ability, adds organic matter.
 

Whitewing

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littlejoe said:
Whitewing said:
Mike said:
Phosphate build-up can be a problem unless you stay on top of it.

Exactly what does one do to mitigate phosphate build-up?

I think it's more of a problem with manure generated from hi levels of grain feeding. Maybe don't even apply to your situation?

Several advantages to manure---slower releasing, improves tilth, improves water holding ability, adds organic matter.

With the exception of a bit of grain sorghum, my animals are all grass fed. And LJ, those advantages you listed are one reason I've long wanted to go to more use of manure on my bermuda....my soils are generally quite sandy.
 

Gomez

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Imo, you can think about manure in two parts. First is the nutrients that are plant available in the year of application. (incorporating or moisture shortly after application reduces some nutrient loss) The second is the effect on the soil structure, improving tilth and moisture holding capacity and subsequent nutrient cycling and release of plant available nutrients through the increased biological processes from "soil bugs" found in the manure. Applying it as a soil amendment on eroded knolls, as mentioned, has big benefits if you can get some one to spread it where you want. You will be able to see the benefits of a good manure application for years to come.

As mentioned a soil and manure test is important as well the application rate is fairly important. Some is good and more is not necissarily better. Over application can lead to tieing up to much N to breakdown the manure and temporaily make it unavailable to the plants and makes them look Nitrogen deficient.

I have lately been looking at that pile of "brown gold" and thinking wouldnt it be great to sell it composted in 50lb / 25kg bags to the city folks for their gardens. hmmmmm. :wink: :)
 

George

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If you watch AgPHD on the RFD channel they sited a study that showed an improvement in crops up to 20 years after the last application of manure - - - no one has been able to nail down a reason but I feel it could be due to the increase in earth worms.
 

andybob

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We alternate manure based compost with composted garden waste (lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, and a lot of woodchip) the farm has an on site lab so do their own tests, and use compost tea to introduce soil friendly bacteria, protazoa, moulds etc.
http://www.laverstokepark.co.uk/composting
 

3words

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From cattle manure you won't get enough nitrogen from it,so you will still have to apply nitrogen.Chicken manure you will.
 

PureCountry

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Whitewing, if there is a dairy around you, or even some farmers hand milking a few of those eared breeds, try spreading raw milk on a patch and see what happens.

Go about 2 gallons of milk in 10-12 gallons of water. Use raw milk, pasteurization kills anything healthy in it, and use clean water.
 

Whitewing

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PureCountry said:
Whitewing, if there is a dairy around you, or even some farmers hand milking a few of those eared breeds, try spreading raw milk on a patch and see what happens.

Go about 2 gallons of milk in 10-12 gallons of water. Use raw milk, pasteurization kills anything healthy in it, and use clean water.

What about the liquid left over after one makes cheeze? In Venezuela they call it suero, not sure what it's called in English. I generally feed it to my pigs, but hey, I'll try anything. :D
 

Ben H

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It's called Whey here.

Are you buying in much grain? The fact that the dairies do is why the phosphorus builds up. Phosphorus is the limiting factor in CNMP (Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans). Old school thinking was that the soil could handle all you put to it, now they realize that there is a limit to the amount of P the soil can hold. Too much will run off, it causes algae blooms in the watershed which depletes the oxygen from the water and causes fish kills.

Too much manure on fields can also cause the potassium level to get too high. This is a concern with pasture and hay being produced for cattle close to calving. It screws up the DCAD (Dietary Cation-Anion Difference) which causes Hypocalcemia (Milk Fever). It's not as much of a cocern with beef cattle as it is with dairy cattle due to the level of production.
 

PureCountry

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Whitewing said:
PureCountry said:
Whitewing, if there is a dairy around you, or even some farmers hand milking a few of those eared breeds, try spreading raw milk on a patch and see what happens.

Go about 2 gallons of milk in 10-12 gallons of water. Use raw milk, pasteurization kills anything healthy in it, and use clean water.

What about the liquid left over after one makes cheeze? In Venezuela they call it suero, not sure what it's called in English. I generally feed it to my pigs, but hey, I'll try anything. :D

You will get very little benefit from whey, as most of the fats and proteins have been removed, and those are the essential ingredients to feed the microbes and critters in the soil. It all comes down to sugars, or energy. The fat in the raw milk is easily broken down by soil organisms into sugars/energy. If you were to do a Brix test for sugar content on a couple drops of Pepsi, and a couple drops of raw milk, the milk will show higher sugar content in most cases, provided the donor cow has been on a good plane of nutrition. Raw milk is a super food, period.

Not to say it is the silver bullet for your situation Whitewing. I can't make a generalization about your soils or anyones without seeing your soil analysis.
 

PATB

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My suggestion is to spread the manure on the part of your fields and keep track of production on those areas compared to straight commercial applications. Why let a valuable resource go to waste by building up in the pens and causing eviromental challenges. Cattle manure takes a couple of years of application to see the best results. Commecial fertilizer is like a drug fix to the soil it keeps taking more to get the same bang for your buck.
 

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