NDSU Extension Service - Williams County

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August 11, 2015

Is it no longer considered livestock waste?

In a recent article in AGWEEK, it talks about the use of animal manure instead of or along with commercial fertilizers. With harvest in full swing in the area, this is something that many farmers are considering.  North Dakota, along with surrounding states, use to use manure extensively as a crop fertilizers. With the change in technology, chemical fertilizers became the new go to when it came to adding nutrients to your fields, especially since it is effective, you know what you are getting and relatively simple to use. With the current drop in grain prices, the idea of using manure is coming back into the picture the past few years. Using fresh manure is ideal because it has a higher moisture content, which means the nutrients haven’t started to break down. Fresh manure is a hard thing to come by, so a lot of times it turns out being a compost mix, which could be 3+ years old. When using a composted manure it generally is cheaper, easier to spread, and easier to transport. The major concern when it comes to using a composed manure, is what are you really getting. Fresh manure releases nutrients at a faster rate than composted manure, which has significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are three important nutrients plants need for growth. Those three nutrients, along with others, break down in the soil slower than chemical fertilizer, manure breakdown is dependent on soil temperature, moisture and type. With the growing concern for soil health and sustainability, the use a manure is something that is being talked about in a lot of research.  For those farmers who don’t have livestock, talking with a livestock producer is your best bet of being able to find fresh or even composed manure that needs to be disposed of.

This information was gathered from AGWEEK Volume 31, Number 2 August 10, 2015 and the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center.

Ornamental grasses

In North Dakota, our soils and climate are perfect for growing ornamental grasses. North Dakotas is in the upper Great Plains, with that being said at one point most of our state was covered in native prairie grasses. Ornamental grasses have been huge in the landscape world the past few years, because they are easy to grow and maintain. Some of the reasons ornamental grasses have become popular are;

  • Easy to maintain, which means they do not need regular watering or fertilizing. They only need to be cut back once a year.

  • They rarely have any pest problems, many of the species do not have pest or disease problems. Also, deer do not like them like they like our petunias.

  • They are fast growers, perfect in a new home or newly landscaped area.

  • Ornamental grasses look good all year long, with the change of colors as the plant matures to brilliant colors in the fall and winter it will add a little something to the sometimes all white landscape.

  • With the bright colored seedheads, colorful birds will be attracted to your yard.

Some of the more popular perennial grasses grown today are the ‘Karl Foerster’ which is a reed grass. These plants can grow up to 5 feet tall, which will add some dimension to your flower garden. The colorful leaves of ‘Overdam’ and ‘Avalanche’ (which are also reed grasses) are very eye catching with their plumes changing from silver to gold in the fall. ‘Northwind’ switch grass was awarded the prestigious Perennial Plant of the Year award in 2014. ‘Northwind’ has an olive-green foliage with sturdy upright growth. ‘Shenandoah’ is known for its burgundy leaves and plumes in autumn. There are many species and varieties of ornamental grasses, most nurseries will have them in the spring. When buying ornamental grasses, along with any other plant, make sure it is hardy enough for our area. North West North Dakota is a Zone 3, so make sure the plants hardiness is -30 to -40. This information was gathered from the NDSU Yard & Garden Report, Volume 3 Number 9.

 

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