Additional Manure Storage adds Value to Manure By Tami Combs, OSU Extension and Joe Christner, Holmes SWCD The value of manure is tied directly to the management of that manure. However it is challenging to manage manure to the highest value on a daily haul operation where there is very limited manure storage. Ayrdell Farms was confronted with this challenge until 2005 when the farm increased its manure storage capacity and reaped the benefits of having more manure management control.. Ayrdell Farms operates a 75 cow and 58 heifer registered Aryshire dairy in Holmes County, Ohio. The farm’s 149 tillable acres, which are mostly small fields and contour strips, are used for approximately 56 acres of corn, 50 acres of corn silage, 43 acres of hay and 25 acres of pasture each year. The farm operates on a corn-corn silage-4 year hay rotation with rye cover crop after the corn silage crop. As a daily haul operation, Ayrdell Farms had to haul 2-3 loads of manure a day regardless of weather conditions. The daily manure hauls added to labor time and cost each day. Furthermore, daily application of manure meant that at times manure was applied on frozen or saturated ground increasing the risk of nutrient runoff. And in slippery conditions daily manure application also compromised the safety of the applicator on Holmes County’s hillsides. Other challenges with the daily haul operation included increased compaction and problems finding a place to apply during the growing season. In 2005 Ayrdell Farms put in a manure storage pond which they now refer to as the “money pit”. The 180 day earthen storage structure can hold 455,000 gallons of manure with one foot of free board and has been a huge asset to the farm. The earthen storage structure has top diameter of 118 feet, bottom diameter of 82 feet, side slopes of 2:1 and a depth of 9 feet. In addition to the construction of the earthen storage, a curtain drain, 18” gravity flow pipe, milkhouse drain, gutter cleaner and receptor inlet box for the milkhouse drain, silo drain and heifer shed and an access road were put in for proper use of the new storage. This construction project cost approximately $28, 5000; however, for Arydell Farms the anticipated benefits of the additional storage out weighted this cost. The project was cost shared by the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as part of the South Fork Priority. A manure analysis in 2005 from this farm showed that each 1,000 gallons of manure contain 7.5 lbs of available nitrogen, 17.4 lbs of P2O5 and 20.8 lbs of K2O. As the table below shows, according to current fertilizer values the Ayrdell Farms earthen storage structure is a true “money pit” holding $13,140.40 worth of nutrients at full capacity. Money in the Pit Nutrient lbs/455,000 gal Price/llb Value Nitrogen 3185 $.60 $1,911.00 P2O5 7,915 $.60 $7,917.00 K2O 9,464 $.35 $3,312.40 Total Value $13,140.40 The addition of a 180 day earthen storage pond solved many of the challenges that the daily haul operation had faced. The storage decreased the risk of nutrient runoff because the manure no longer had to be applied during the winter or in inclement conditions. There was less risk of nutrients leaching or being otherwise lost to the environment as nutrient could be applied closer to the growing season. Furthermore, soil compaction and labor costs were decreased. Arydell Farms follows a fertility program that includes for the corn 10,000 gallons of manure per acre, 7 gallons of 28% nitrogen at planting and an additional 20 gallons of 28% nitrogen where needed after planting. For hay the fertility program is 250 lbs of 0-15-40 applied after the first cutting of hay, depending on the stand. The 10,000 gallons of manure nutrients, include 53 lbs of nitrogen, 174 lbs of P2O5 and 208 lbs of K2O, representing a $209 per acre saving on commercial fertilizer. Liquid manure application at Ayrdell Farms now takes place with a 3,600 gallon spreader which carries three loads of manure to each acre of corn ground. Some of the rye cover crop is chopped for forage prior to manure application and other is plowed down after manure application. All manure is surface applied; however, it is incorporated within two days of application. The change from daily haul to 180 day storage capacity has been a huge improvement for Arydell Farms. The ability to manage and use the manure nutrients produced from the dairy so that the highest value of these nutrients can be achieved and use in the cropping program has added profit and increased savings of Arydell Farms. The addition of an earthen storage structure has truly been a “money pit” for this Ohio farm.
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