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Nutrient Analysis of Beef, Dairy, Swine and Poultry Manure (average content)

By Wayne Cords

Solid lbs/ton of manure Total N P2O5 K2O
No Bedding 21 14 23
With Bedding 21 18 26
Liquid lbs/1,000 gallons of manure      
Anaerobic Storage 29 18 26

Solid lbs/ton of manure Total N P2O5 K2O
No Bedding 9 3 6
With Bedding 9 3 6
Liquid lbs/1,000 gallons of manure      
Anaerobic Storage 31 15 19

Solid lbs/ton of manure Total N P2O5 K2O
No Bedding 11 8 5
With Bedding 9 7 7
Liquid lbs/1,000 gallons of manure      
Anaerobic Storage 36 25 22

Solid lbs/ton of manure Total N P2O5 K2O
No Bedding 33 48 34
With Bedding 47 48 30

If you do not like working with P2O5 to convert to P just use the formula: P2O5 X 0.44 = P

To convert K20 to K use the formula: K20 X 0.833 = K

The majority (70-90%) of the Phosphorus and Potassium will be available the first year after the application of manure.

The nitrogen content of manure is affected by both how the manure is stored and how it is applied.

Nitrogen availability and loss as affected by incorporation of manure

Plants cannot use all of forms of nitrogen in manure. Only two forms of nitrogen are available to plants NH4 and NO3. To understand the nitrogen availability of manure a brief description of the nitrogen cycle is needed. Nitrogen in the soil/manure is combined with different elements and is gradually changed to the gas form N2. This is a very complex process and is called the nitrification/denitrification cycle and ammonification. In a very simply form it would look like this:


Microorganisms do most of the converting of nitrogen in the cycle.

Manure contains mainly two forms of nitrogen: the organic N (R-NH2 which are proteins and amino acids) and Ammonium nitrogen (NH4.). Organic nitrogen cannot be lost to leaching or volatilization but then again cannot be used by the plant and must be converted to the inorganic form. This process can take up to 3 or more years to complete. On the other hand ammonium nitrogen is available to plants but can (under the right conditions) quickly converted to a form of nitrogen that is quickly volatilized (NH3) or leached away (NO3). So if you are applying manure to your soil and not incorporating it in, you are losing a significant amount of your nitrogen to volatilization. Even if you delay incorporation, a significant amount of N can be lost.

Availability of N as affected by incorporation

If incorporated within 1 Day 4 Days Not At All
  % Total N
Year 1 65 45 25
Year 2 20 20 20
Year 3 10 10 10
Lost 5 25 35

Storage Losses of Nitrogen

If manure is stored in a manure pack or stacked into a pile a 20 to 40 percent reduction in total nitrogen can be realized due to volatilization of the ammonia N. If the manure is stored in an open lot (the leave it where it falls storage method) a 40 to 60% reduction in total nitrogen can be realized.

So for example if you have two tons of beef manure with no bedding you would have 42 pounds of N (21 lbs/ton x 2 tons). The manure was kept in an open lot (a loss of 40%) to leave you with 25 lbs of N. Now you surface apply that manure incorporating it in to the soil within 3 days (45% of N available). The first year your plant would access to 11.25 lbs of available N. The organic N in the manure would slowly break down and release N in the following manner; the second year 5 lbs of plant available N, and the third year 2.5 lbs of plant available N would be available. However, you completely lost 25% of the nitrogen (6.25 lbs).

So if high nitrogen content of your manure is a concern (such as in chicken manure), after applying manure do not immediately incorporate your manure instead allow the manure to sit on top of the soil for 5 or more days to allow the majority of the nitrogen to volatilize away (the warmer the weather the quicker this will happen). Also remember that for two years afterwards you will have a carryover of nitrogen. Composting will also release most of the available nitrogen but will still contain some organic nitrogen, which will be slowly released.

If you need the nitrogen from the manure first look for manure that has been stacked/piled and secondly as soon as the manure is applied incorporate it into the soil to prevent volatilization

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