IMMAG Updates

December 2014

Welcome to the monthly update for the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) Web site. This update is provided as a service to inform you about changes made to the IMMAG Web Page or items of interest dealing with manure management and air quality from animal feeding operations. If you wish to subscribe to this mailing please click here. You may also view this update with direct links on the CURRENT NEWS site on IMMAG.

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Recently, new instructions for installing the new version of RUSLE2 as well as instructions on how to save your existing files created in RUSLE2, were posted to the IMMAG homepage. The link is located immediately below the photo on the homepage or can be accessed directly at this link. Questions regarding these instructions can be addressed to Kapil Arora, ISU Extension Ag Engineer at or to Barb Stewart, Iowa NRCS at RUSLE2 is required to be used to calculate soil loss for use in the Iowa P Index and subsequent use in manure and nutrient management plans in Iowa.

Using Manure to Reduce Risk and Lower Input Costs
Dr. Daniel Andersen, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Although we never know what the future will bring, as we look ahead to 2015 most are predicting a year of lower corn and soybean prices (a number I’ve heard is about $4.15 a bushel for corn and $9.50 a bushel for soybean). Although we have little control over the price, one thing we do have some control over is our input costs, especially the amount and types of fertilizers we apply.

While world demand for phosphorus fertilizers continues to climb, some economists have speculated that U.S. farmers may decide to reduce phosphorus applications in 2015 as a means of input cost control. Another option may be to make better use of our animal manure as a source of phosphorus. We all realize that manure has a high value in our crop production systems, but you may not realize just how far you can afford to move it if you are getting value from all the nutrients, especially the P and K. To get this value the manure has to be applied to fields that need this phosphorus and a crop response will be expected. Generally, this means fields that have Melich-3 soil test phosphorus levels of below 30 ppm.

Let’s look at an examples; we are going to work with corn-soybean rotation, set current nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium prices at $0.44 per lb N, $0.49 per lb P2O5, and $0.40 per lb K2O, and focus on swine manure first. Current nutrients concentrations (average ± standard deviation) in deep-pit slurry from a swine finishing operation are around 58 ± 25 lbs N/1000 gallons, 41 ± 18 lbs P2O5/1000 gallons, and 24 ± 8 lbs K2O/1000 gallons (average ± standard deviation).

Our commercial manure haulers on average are charging around $0.02 per gallon, plus a millage fee of $0.0035 per gallon per mile transported. These prices are only rough guidelines that may vary throughout the state depending on your manure, soil, crop production, and site-specific characteristics. If a farmer is getting value from the N, P, K than they can afford to haul their swine slurry manure about 12 miles and have it be as cost effective as commercial fertilizer. Transport distances of 5 to 20 miles are possible depending on the manure’s nutrient content. However, if only the nitrogen is of value then the hauling distance equivalent to the fertilizer value is only about 1 mile. Similar analysis can be conducted for dairy slurry, beef manure solids, layer manure, and turkey litter. Results of all manure types are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Break-even hauling distances for manures from different types of operations and different cases of how manure are valued. The first number represents the average manure, values within parenthesis represent how far manure within 1 standard deviation of the average could be transported.

table 1

So what does this mean to you? Current market conditions seem to indicate that crop prices over the next year or two might be lower than what we experienced in the past couple years. Finding ways to reduce expenditures as we try to get the crop in the field and to harvest might help in reducing our risk. Manure can play a role in this, if you have fields in need of phosphorus and others that don't, strive to get your manure resources to the fields where you can take advantage of the fertility the manure has to offer. Hauling swine manure an extra mile will only increase your application cost about $13 per acre, but if it allows you to better use the phosphorus nutrients it can offer more than $45 in additional phosphorus value.


Commercial Manure Applicator training is scheduled for January 6, 2015. Click here for a list of County Extension Offices hosting this event. Commercial applicators are required to attend 3 hours of training annually or take and pass the certification exam annually. Certification requirements must be completed prior to handling, hauling or land-applying manure. 

Dates for the 2015 Confinement Site Applicator Workshops have been scheduled and are available here.


A team of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach specialists have recently made major upgrades to an online tool to help livestock and poultry producers compare odor mitigation techniques that could be useful on their farms. The Air Management Practices Assessment Tool (AMPAT) was developed to help livestock and poultry producers identify practices to reduce odors, and emissions of gases and dust on their farms caused by animal production.  For more information about the tool read this press release.


The IMMAG Events page is a compilation of manure management related events. Please check the events page often for new listings.

Program details are being finalized, but registration for the 2015 Waste to Worth Conference is now open and can be found at


Best Wishes for 2015!

Angie Rieck-Hinz
(515) 231-2830
Twitter: @iowamanure

Dan Andersen
(515) 294-4210
Twitter: @DrManure

Iowa Manure Management Action Group

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