Manure: Problems and Possibilities

Picture of cows Voices from Knox County:

"I put it [manure] on my garden. In fact, that's the reason I started having cows in the first place; to keep my garden organic."

The amount of waste produced by livestock presents an interesting dilemma for farmers in the county. What to do with all of this manure? Here are some ways that local farmers have dealt with this situation:

  • One way to deal with manure is to turn it into an asset. Some dairy farmers have found that they can divide pastures into smaller grazing areas. Moving the cattle from one area to another allows the cows to disperse manure throughout the pasture. The farmer does not have to deal with this messy problem and gets free fertilizer in return.
  • Some farmers keep their livestock in a barn and collect the manure over time. When they are ready to fertilize their fields, they use this natural fertilizer.

  • Problems arise when manure gets into water sources. This happens after heavy rains on freshly-fertilized fields, or when manure accumulates near a water source. These problems can be averted by storing manure in secure pits, applying manure to fields in dry weather, and keeping livestock at a distance from sources of moving water.

    photo credit: Stephanie Martin

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