You are here: Home Newsreleases Producers Can Save Money, Reduce Environmental Impact
Document Actions

Producers Can Save Money, Reduce Environmental Impact

Nutrients from livestock manure can harm water quality and have other negative environmental impacts.

Proper nutrient management and application methods can save agricultural producers money on commercial fertilizer and greatly reduce their environmental impact, a North Dakota State University Extension Service specialist says.

Using those methods is especially important this spring because the recent precipitation increases the risk of rapid runoff in North Dakota, according to Emily Kline, livestock environmental management specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center.

Runoff water that comes into contact with livestock manure will collect excessive amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients can harm water quality and have other negative environmental effects.

For example, an excess of these nutrients can cause eutrophication in surface water.

“Eutrophication can generally be defined as an increase in nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that cause an excessive growth of aquatic vegetation (phytoplankton and algae),” says Greg Sandness of the North Dakota Department of Health.

“Under extreme situations, the excess nutrients can degrade water quality and impair the recreational and aquatic life uses of the water body,” he adds. “As an example, significant increases in aquatic vegetation, such as phytoplankton, reduce water clarity and the depth sunlight penetrates the water column, and when the vegetation dies, the decomposition process depletes oxygen levels in the water. These combined effects can result in fish kills and/or negatively impact water-based recreation in the water body.”

These results also can occur if excessive amounts of commercial fertilizers come into contact with runoff waters.

“Not only does the runoff of nutrients affect the environment; it also can impact your budget,” Kline says. “Nutrients lost through runoff are not going to be used by crops. With commercial fertilizer prices again climbing this spring, these are dollars being washed away.”

She suggests replacing or supplementing commercial fertilizer with manure to save on fertilizer costs.

“Manure can be just as effective as commercial fertilizer,” she says.

Here are a few precautions producers should take when planning to spread fertilizer:

  • Take into account soil and manure tests, and the recommended crop fertilizer needs. Assessing the fields’ fertilizer needs can prevent over- or underapplication.
  • Take the time to calibrate the manure spreader. This also can lessen the possibility of over- or underapplying nutrients.
  • Think before spreading fertilizer. Do not spread it near surface waters, including waterways, sloughs and creeks. Also avoid spreading it during winter months, and before, during or after a major rain event.

“Protect the environment and your pocketbook this spring by properly managing your nutrients,” Kline advises. For more information, contact Kline or Mary Berg, also a livestock environmental management specialist at the Carrington Research Extension Center, at (701) 652-2951 or email them at or Also check out their website at, find them on Facebook at or follow them on Twitter at @ndsulem.

These publications also may be helpful:

NDSU Agriculture Communication - April 24, 2013

Source:Emily Kline, (701) 652-2951,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
Spotlight on Economics: Spotlight on Economics: Flood Hazards Impact on House Prices in the Fargo-Moorhead Area  (2016-10-13)  Actual flood events can change a homebuyer's perceptions about flood risk, thereby possibly discounting the home's value.  FULL STORY
BeefTalk: BeefTalk: Who Wants to Save $300 Per Calf?  (2016-10-20)  To keep costs low, evaluate expenses, reduce production costs, and improve production and marketing efficiency.  FULL STORY
Prairie Fare: Prairie Fare: Tame Your Sweet Tooth During Trick-or-treat Season  (2016-10-20)  Keep moderation in mind.  FULL STORY
Small-business Savvy: Small-business Savvy: Define Your Small-business Audience  (2016-10-20)  Watching people and reading are great ways to start.  FULL STORY
Use of Releases
The news media and others may use these news releases in their entirety. If the articles are edited, the sources and NDSU must be given credit.

Powered by Plone, the Open Source Content Management System