The power of poo: Adding manure to the crop production mix

Most farmers intuitively understand that manure applications are good for soil health and building soil nutrients, but many grain growers use fertilizer vs. manure for many reasons — availability and ease of use topping the list.

Sask Pork is hoping to convince farmers that there is real value to cropping systems in adding hog manure to crop land, and the benefits may be so enticing, some farmers may even choose to diversify in to raising their own hogs.

Mark Ferguson, with SaskPork, was on hand at Ag in Motion, near Saskatoon, Sask., to demonstrate the value of hog manure to barley, wheat, and canola crops, looking at none vs. some vs. lots of manure. The visual difference, for those who toured the plots, was striking.

Beginning with a soil test, and then adding either zero, 4,000, or 8,000 gallons of hog manure, SaskPork’s demo site showed the impact of about 330 pounds of N and 165 pounds of N through the two applications.

Ferguson says that manure can be a truly cost-effective nutrient source, but the cost of transporting liquid manure does mean it needs to be applied closer to the source, or potentially at slightly higher rates (and then done every second year). An easy solution to the proximity challenge he says, is to raise more hogs. Saskatchewan currently raises about 2 million hogs a year, but with plenty of land and affordable feed, maybe it’s time to look into expanding the industry, he says.

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