The importance of animal waste analyzation for proper crop application

By Max Knowles - Contributing columnist
Max Knowles -

The waste produced from animal production is a valuable crop fertilization resource. Based on the average nutrient values of the various manure types produced and the current fertilizer costs for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the estimated economic value of the waste produced by North Carolina meat animals exceeds $99 million per year (USDA-NRCS, 2011).

Animal waste can provide essential crop nutrients, but it is important that waste be properly analyzed so a producer knows exactly what they are applying to their land and crops. When using best management practices, animal waste is an extremely valuable resource that will produce a good crop yield.

For the swine producer, NC law requires waste analyzation by a qualified laboratory within 60 days of any land application. Soil analyzation is required every three years. Fertilizing without current waste sample results is simply a guessing game and risks under or over-applying the fertilizer resource. Knowing the current nutrient content of animal waste and matching that to the nutrient needs of the receiving crop will produce a good crop yield and pose no detriment to the environment.

The Agronomic Division of the NC Department of Ag and Consumer Services analyzes waste, interprets analytical results, and provides management recommendations for the producer for a fee of $8. To aide producers in securing this report, the NC Cooperation Extension Service schedules waste sample collection days every other month and transports the samples to the lab in Raleigh. In Sampson, we have established the following collection dates for 2017: Feb. 7, Apr. 4, June 6, Aug. 1, Oct. 4, and Dec. 5. Producers may bring waste or soil samples anytime from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to the Sampson Center at 93 Agriculture Place.

When taking an animal waste sample for lab analysis, it is important to get a representative sample that reflects the average composition of the resource to be crop applied. For the swine producer, multiple subsamples measuring half a pint to one pint each from 10 – 12 sites around a lagoon should be collected. Always use a clean plastic container for collecting, mixing, and storing waste samples as glass can break and galvanized metal containers can cause contamination and introduce micronutrients such as zinc into the sample. It is best to take the samples at a depth of one foot and at least six feet from the bank. Once collected, these subsamples should be mixed together to form a representative sample that is stored in a clean plastic container three-fourths full. Taking the time to gather animal waste samples properly will give the producer an accurate account of the nutrient content of this fertilizer resource and produce a good crop yield after land application.

For any questions about animal waste sampling or proper nutrient land application, contact Max Knowles at the Sampson County Cooperative Extension office at 592-7161.

Max Knowles Knowles

By Max Knowles

Contributing columnist

Max Knowles is an Extension Agent specializing in livestock with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.

Max Knowles is an Extension Agent specializing in livestock with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.