Manure has often been referred to as a waste or an undesirable by-product of livestock and poultry production. In reality, manure is a valuable source of plant nutrients, soil amendment, and is fast becoming a popular renewable energy source. This page focuses on valuing manure for its nutrient content, calculating costs of manure storage and application operations, costs of odor control technologies, energy production costs and more.
Manure value calculators provide an estimated economic value based on the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrient content of the manure. Some of the newer web-based tools include "What is Manure Worth?" (University of Minnesota) and Oklahoma's poultry litter value calculator. A smartphone app "Manure Calculator" incorporates Nebraska's spreadsheet and is available (99 cents) on iTunes and Google Play.
Two spreadsheets available for free download include the Nebraska Manure Value Calculator and Cornell's "Manure Cost, Value, and Time Management Calculator".
What does it cost to transport and apply manure? If a farm has too much manure to utilize on their own fields, what are some business arrangements to transfer manure off the farm? If you are looking at reducing air emissions from your feedlot, what are some of the costs to implement treatment technologies?
The most common system for utilizing manure as a renewable energy source is in the process of anaerobic digestion. Some additional uses are covered in "Manure Use for Fertilizer and Energy: June 2009 Report to Congress".
View the archived presentation on economics and environmental considerations of:
A recent report by the Economic Research Service entitled Confined Animal Production and Manure Nutrients provides an overview of manure production and the farms and regions that are surplus or deficit in manure nutrients. Typically, if a farm or region is grain deficient, it is also nutrient deficient and the most economical use for the manure is as a source of crop nutrient. The economic question becomes one of how to minimize cost of storage, handling and application in the immediate area.
A recent USDA ERS report Manure Management for Water Quality: Costs to Animal Feeding Operations of Applying Manure Nutrients to Land examines these costs. Value is not added, but rather costs are reduced to increase farm profits. For regions that do not have sufficient land readily available for manure application farmers are often looking for alternatives to local land application. These alternatives may include finding new uses for manure (new markets, energy production, etc) or changing the form of manure to reach more distant or different markets. Whether local or distant, conventional or alternative markets, if manure is transferred out of the livestock production operation, there will be a business arrangement between the manure buyer and seller.
For questions or more information about resources on this page, contact Bill Lazarus, University of Minnesota firstname.lastname@example.org