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The Livestock Cycle and Manure Compost is an Integral Part of Farming, Improving Soil Health and Fertility
Transitions to Pasture can Lock Carbon into the Soil.
A Farmapper.com use case in bringing livestock producers and farmers together to manage manure/compost and increase the bottom line
Originally posted on Medium June 13, 2019 with some updating in this article.
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Farming and livestock industries have always enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. Farmers growing feed, aftermath, byproducts and also using more marginal ground for pasture to raise livestock. Farming has an almost insatiable appetite for fertilizer and nutrients to increase yields and productivity of the land. Pasturing livestock takes pressure off the ground having to raise a cash crop year after year, trading organic matter and fertilizer to use to recondition the soil. Farmyard manure from livestock is a superb source of “organic” supplement to increase the amount of nutrients in less fertile soil. With the addition of carbon markets and ability to offset intensive farming practices may pay to let the ground rest as in this article from Successful Farming.
Farmers often choose conventional chemical fertilizers over organic fertilizers because of their quick acting response and the ease and economics of transporting the fertilizers. However, the economics of the tradeoff between inorganic fertilizer and manure/compost change on a year to year basis. If commodities are high, the fertilizer companies are sure to increase prices and gobble up some of that margin. Similarly, high diesel prices increase the cost of hauling and handling manure/compost.
Hammering the ground with chemical fertilizers is sure to begin a cycle of diminishing returns and the loss of organic matter in the soil with its properties of better water retention, etc. Compost and manure are an integral component in organic farming practices. Organic farming through the use of manure combines tradition, innovation, science, and technology. This is a benefit and often provides a good quality of life for all stakeholders involved (soil, crop, animal, human being and environment).
However, there are challenges of using manure and compost despite its benefits in that it has high bulkiness and high cost of transportation from the point of production to the point of application. Manure is commonly more costly to transport and apply than many commercial chemical fertilizers. The actual costs involved in the transportation and distribution of manure are to be clearly understood and managed to get optimum value from the use of compost.
Three major factors determine the costs of manure are loading, land application methods and transportation. Each of these factors can require its very own particular equipment as a constraint to the utilization of manure. Land application methods also require the use of specialized equipment. Transportation can be tedious and heavily sensitive to fuel costs depending upon the distance between the point of production to the point of application and the water content of the manure. The higher the water content of manure, the heavier the manure will be which makes transportation difficult.
Based on water content, livestock manure can either be liquid, slurry or solid. Manure of each of these types has a significant influence on the cost required for purchase and distribution. Solid manure can have a water content of about 20–40% while slurry or liquid manure can have a water content of up to 90%. Thus, that makes it costly to cover a long distance in the process of transportation. For instance, solid fertilizer can more often be transported to a farther distance for lesser price based on the fact that less water is being transported.
Liquid and slurry manure, on account of its high water content, can’t be hauled over a long distance. As a result of the transportation cost, manure is often applied nearby to where it is produced. The dollar cost of acquiring farmyard manure depends on the location, animal origin, the form of manure, equipment, and so on. How these expenses are effectively managed can have a major effect in whether we think the manure is giving a savvy input to high yield ratio, or if its utilization does not give a worth compared to concentrated fertilizers. There is also the issue with the potential of importing weed seed, especially if the composting is not done properly to burn up the contaminants.
Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are fundamental for plant development. At the point when these nutrients are supplied excessively than the normal crop requirement or when they are they are supplied at a wrong time, more nutrients can end up being fixed up in the soil or leached without getting to the roots for plant’s utilization. This remains constant paying little heed to the source of the nutrients. Manure contains more nutrients which are mineralized and released slowly in the soil without being leached into the soil. Nutrients in farmyard manure are less concentrated than in conventional commercial fertilizers. Organic matter present in manure also adds to soil wellbeing and crop development. For more information here is a great resource from the Pacific Northwest extension network FERTILIZING WITH MANURE AND OTHER ORGANIC AMENDMENTS. Within the guide, or estimates on the amount of nutrients available in various forms of manure/compost and guides for application.
In regions with more concentrated clusters of livestock farms that are producing manure than crop farms, it can be very challenging to find farmers nearby demanding manure to be supplied to their farms. This is where www.farmapper.com can help with its goal to bring agriculture together on the map. In these cases, it can be a liability to dispose of this “valuable” crop and require more intricate manure handling equipment to enable the transport and export of these nutrients from livestock to farm. Manure producers have a more complex task or marketing their products or get easy access directly to crop farmers in the distribution chain within a reasonable distance. This can balance the expenses of transporting fertilizer or can change manure supplements into a structure that is conservative to transport.
You must be wondering and asking yourself questions that how can a crop farmer in need of trusted “organic” manure have access to the manure with adequate amount of N, P, and K at a lesser cost or how can a livestock or dairy farmer who is willing to export manure overcome the difficulties and stress of transporting the manure over large distances? The solution to reducing the long distance between crop farmers and manure producers has been designed by Farmapper such that livestock producers can locate farmers within range who are in need of manure and vice versa through the easy use of geographical map interface and listing alerts. The farmapper project was started to bring together and assist farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals in organizing their farm projects.
Farmapper is specifically designed to assist in the use case of farmers’ seeking nearby manure/compost or for livestock producers to alert potential parties that manure/compost is available. This is on the manure/available or manure/wanted channels respectively. www.farmapper.com has been designed to facilitate the exchange of manure easily without being expensive. Therefore, through the platform, crop farmers in need of organic manure and livestock farmers looking to export manure can locate each other close by on the map by listing on farmapper channels.
Even if there aren’t matching listings, a user can set up listing notifications to automatically ping you when a listing within a certain radius of your operation begins. That way you are the first to know when something is available. To set a listing notification radius, go to the farmapper app and choose manage notifications. There you can set the distance in miles, and which channels you are interested in receiving notifications.
As a manure producer looking for buyers of your manure to fertilize their crops, you can create an account publish an advertisement to the listings to find buyers easily through farmapper.com. Choose the most suitable channel the “manure available” listing such that it will be visible to every potential buyer that wants to buy manure within their location. Tie the listing to a project shape or sticker. The farmer could also create a polygon shape for the location where he is looking for manure/compost. All listings in their location will show on the map. To have more reach for your published ads, you can share to Facebook or other social media. Once a buyer is interested in your offer, make negotiations and work out the details including payment and transportation cost.
Thus, the objective of farmapper.com in simple terms is to bring agriculture together on the map.
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