Manure Smells Like Money

With energy prices driving the cost of agricultural inputs up, nutrient-rich manure is getting another look.

| September 26, 2008

  • Atop a hill of manure.
    Tommy Bass, Montana State University Extension livestock environment associate specialist, stands atop a pile of manure.
    Montana State University photo by Kelly Gorham

  • Atop a hill of manure.

Bozeman, Montana – With energy prices driving up the cost of agricultural inputs, nutrient-rich manure is getting another look.

"Calls to Extension offices from people looking for manure and manure compost have increased in recent months," says Tommy Bass, Montana State University Extension livestock environment associate specialist.

Bass said that this shift in perception is good for water quality, too.

"As manure gains value, it is likely to be used more efficiently and effectively. There's a potential for increased revenue for animal feeding operations," he says.

Though MSU Extension and conservation professionals have taught for years that manure can be a valuable asset, it's often written it off as a difficult-to-manage byproduct with cumbersome regulations. Now, with fertilizer prices hovering at $1,000 per ton, the nitrogen and other nutrients in manure look more gold than brown.

Bass says that a ton of manure contains between $30 to $40 worth of nutrients for the soil, though they're not all available the first year.

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