Managing Livestock Manures 4: Managing Manure on Organic Farms

What is this booklet about?

Livestock manures are a valuable source of nutrients in many organic rotations. Making best use of these nutrients:

  • contributes towards economic sustainability
  • minimises pollution of the wider environment.

This booklet draws on scientific research undertaken in the last 10 years, much of it in the UK, and most of it funded by DEFRA (formerly MAFF).

This booklet:

  • provides information on typical nutrient contents of livestock manures from organic and conventional sources
  • describes the availability of manure nutrients to the growing crop
  • outlines best management practices to optimise manure nutrient supply
  • discusses environmental protection and other manure related issues.

Summary: effective manure management entails-

1      Valuing all manure nutrients.

2     Taking steps to reduce losses of nutrients from animal housing and during manure storage, e.g.

  • collect dirty water
  • ensure adequate straw is used for bedding
  • cover manure heaps.

3     Knowing the nutrient content of your manures:

  • use published standard values for general planning
  • consider periodic analysis of manures.

4      Calculating a nutrient balance to compare manure nutrient supply with crop removals.

5     Applying evenly and at known application rates.

6     Adopting methods to reduce nitrate leaching and ammonia volatilisation, e.g.

  • wherever practical, avoid late summer or early autumn manure applications
  • wherever practical, incorporate the manure rapidly into the soil surface.
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