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DAIRY FARMERS USING HOME-GROWN GOLD TO CUT EXPENSES
jack9999p | September 9, 2008 at 08:58 pmby
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"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.
Vermeer Farms in Wilder uses all of their dairy manure on its feed crop operations and in 2008 they're saving thousands of dollars a month in fertilizer costs.
"We work together with the manure management, I buy the fertilizer for the feed crops and sell it back to the dairy, My brothers dairy operations makes a buck and I save money on my fertilizer bill, it all works out.” says Derek Vermeer.
Montana State Scientists say that this shift in farming practices is not only good for water quality and the the environment, it makes money. "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," Bass said.
“It's one of the best things we have to help me hold down my expenses. I take manure off the dairy, just the organic matter, the nitrogen the put it on the fields. It helps me cut down on fertilizer. It's no secret that fertilizer keeps going up and up, that’s a constant I've always had. I have my own spreader trucks with enough work to keep them spreading all winter long," added Vermeer.
Although extension and conservation professionals have taught for years that manure can be a valuable asset, some operators wrote it off as a difficult-to-manage byproduct with too many difficult rules and regulations. Many paid tens of thousands to haul it off. But with fertilizer prices hovering at $1,000 per ton, the nitrogen and other nutrients in manure are golden.
Scientists say that a ton of manure contains $30 to $40 worth of nutrients for the soil. "Freshly scraped and stacked dairy and beef manure can have a total nitrogen content ranging between 12 and 25 pounds of nitrogen per ton of manure, while the same ton may also have 9 to 18 pounds of phosphorus fertilizer equivalent," said Bass.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are other valuable nutrients in manure.Potassium and a variety of micro-nutrients are also present in cow manure.In addition to specific nutrients, the high organic content of manure and manure compost improves soil quality, and its improved texture improves its water and nutrient holding capacity.
“We're just trying to keep our debt down, that’s just the nature of the dairy business, but the last couple of years have been pretty good,” said Mike Vermeer.
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