How much manure is too much?


From: Walt Kelly

The issue is not defined by how many animals are on a farm, but on how many acres of land are needed to properly use the amount of manure available.

Every acre of corn requires a lot of fertilizer, including nitrogen. Hark back to American history class where they talked about the Native Americans helping the Colonists by showing them how to put a dead fish in with the corn kernels at planting time. The fish was called “fertilizer.” It kept the Colonists from going hungry.We still need fertilizer today, and soil testing tells how much fertilizer is appropriate.

Do you prefer commercial fertilizer or organic? Come spring, take a look at the rows of anhydrous ammonia tanks at the fertilizer dealers, ready to spread commercial nitrogen for corn. That’s for the farmers who don’t have enough organic manure to fertilize the corn.

Can you overdo a good thing? Sure, and some have put down too much fertilizer (not just manure), or put it too close to sinkholes. As a consequence, we have nitrogen in water where it does not belong. It has to be used properly.

The next time you clean the cat’s litter box, note the acrid smell — ammonia. Where did that come from? From the proteins in the meats or veggies the cat ate. That came from the fertilizer that was used on the crops to make the cat food. It’s all one big circle of life.


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