New Manure Nutrient Standard Nears Completion

A national effort to revise a standard for estimating nutrient content of manure is nearly complete. Compiled by staff

Published on: Dec 24, 2004

Livestock producers as well as crop farmers who apply manure to their land will soon be able to use new standards for estimating the nutrient content of manure. Standards for estimating manure nutrient content are essential for producers.

That’s because environmental regulations limit how much of certain nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, may be field-applied. These nutrients are found in manure that is applied to fields.

The standard, ASAE standard D384.1, allows producers to estimate what levels of nutrients are in the manure they are applying to their fields. Currently, the standard is only based on animal bodyweight. The new standard will be more specific, also taking into account what is being fed.

New standard will benefit farmers

The new standard should benefit many farmers. "If you are feeding your animals with environmental awareness, you will see advantages with the new standard," says Wendy Powers, professor of animal science at Iowa State University. She is co-leader of the standard revision. "The standard is also being revised to reflect today’s animals that have been bred to use diet nutrients more efficiently."

There will be three methods of prediction in the new standard. The most specific type will consider feeding methods at a specific site to determine expected manure nutrient content. A more general method will allow for quick predictions based on industry averages. A third method will allow for estimation of nutrient content after the manure has been stored and is ready to be field-applied. Some nutrients may be lost during storage—lost into the air.

The new standard has already passed external reviews and now awaits internal approval from the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. To read more about the new standard, visit www.iowabeefcenter.org.