If you drive anywhere in the upper Midwest where there are pig production facilities you are bound to occasionally sense an ‘aroma’ in the air as producers apply a year’s worth of manure to agricultural lands. While there is still some ‘aroma’ associated with this annual task, producers have become more sensitive to their local community needs regarding this ‘aroma’.
It is rare anymore to see anyone surface applying liquid manure. The volatilization of the nitrogen in the manure is a huge economic loss in addition to the odors associated with the management practice. Anhydrous ammonia (82.4% N) is currently priced around $550/ton which translates into just under $0.23/lb N cost. If you apply 3000 gal/acre of liquid manure from a deep pit storage device with an analysis of 60 lb of N per 1000 gal, this is 180 lb of N or $41.40 of N per acre. Surface applied manure looses approximately 50% of its N due to volatilization within 5-7 days or $20/acre loss.
When you add in the value of the phosphorus, potassium (potash), trace nutrients including sulfur and zinc and the organic matter it is easy to demonstrate why swine manure has become such an important component for many corn/soybean farmers in the upper Midwest. Current pumping and injection costs are in the range of $0.015/gal. The nitrogen in the manure almost equals the cost of application making swine manure a valuable commodity.
Yes, this commodity has an ‘aroma’ but it truly is ‘the smell of money’ to those with access to this commodity.