Chapter 9

Manure Management on Organic Farms

(book excerpts)

Livestock manure is a valuable resource for organic and sustainable soil management. Manure is most, effectively used in combination with other sustainable and organic farming practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping, green manuring, and liming. In organic crop production, manure is commonly applied to the field as raw manure (fresh or dried). Manure is great for enhancing the physical condition of soil while building soil organic matter that serves as a slow-release reservoir of plant nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients. The timing of manure application is very important to ensure that the manure benefits the plants and soil. Manure, if applied and managed correctly, can be a great means of enhancing soil and crop quality, but there are some important aspects of soil health and food safety to consider when using it in an organic farm system. The National Organic Program (NOP) Rule requires that manure, either be composted or that the operator observes a minimum interval between the application of manure and harvest of crops for human consumption. The NOP Rule provides a strong incentive to use composted manure and places stringent restrictions on un-composted manure.

Click on the following topics for more information on manure management on organic farms.

Within This Chapter: Manure Management on Organic Farms

  • Introduction to Manure Management on Organic Farms
  • National Organic Program Standards for Manure
  • National Organic Standards Final Rule
  • Vegetable Production
  • Contaminants
  • NOP Recordkeeping Requirements
  • Benefits and Limitations in Using Livestock Manure
  • Benefits in Using Livestock Manure
  • Organic Nitrogen
  • Organic Matter Content
  • Soil Biological Activity
  • Manure Effects on Soil Erosion
  • Limitations in Using Livestock Manure
  • Contaminants
  • Nutrient Availability
  • Fertility Imbalances
  • Weed Problems
  • Risks to Water Quality
  • Managing Nutrients in Livestock Manure
  • Nutrient Composition of Manure
  • Manure Nutrient Availability for Crops
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorous and Potassium
  • Micronutrients
  • Manure Sampling and Analyses
  • Manure Sampling
  • Manure Analyses
  • Timing of Manure Application
  • Spring Manure Application
  • Fall Manure Application
  • Winter Manure Application
  • Manure Application Rates
  • Calculating Plant-Available Nitrogen (PAN) in Manure or Compost
  • Step 1. Submit Manure or Compost Samples for Analysis
  • Step 2. Convert Manure or Compost Test Results to an “As-Is” Basis
  • Step 3. Convert Manure or Compost Test Results to Desired Units
  • Step 4: Estimate the Amount of Available Organic Nitrogen
  • Step 5. Estimate the Amount of Available Ammonium Nitrogen
  • Step 6. Calculate Plant-Available Nitrogen (PAN)
  • Step 7. Calculate Manure or Compost Application Rates with PAN
  • Manure Application Methods
  • Solid Manure Application
  • Solid Manure Application Equipment
  • Side-discharge Box Spreaders
  • Box Spreaders with Vertical Beaters
  • Box Spreaders with Horizontal Beaters
  • Box Spreaders with Spinner Beaters
  • Liquid or Slurry Manure Application
  • Broadcast Application
  • Surface Banding
  • Liquid or Slurry Manure Application Equipment
  • Broadcast Spreaders
  • Trailing Hose Spreaders
  • Shallow Disk Injection
  • Chisel (Knife) Injection with Sweeps
  • Manure Storage Systems
  • Storage of Animal Manure—Solid Systems
  • Nutrient Losses
  • Storage of Livestock Manure—Slurry and Liquid Systems
  • Government Regulations
  • NOP Manure Storage and Handling Requirements
  • References