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For centuries, farmers have recognized the value of manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. Today, the value of manure as an alternative energy source continues to gain momentum, even as more and more farmers are realizing the benefits of recycling manure vs. purchasing commercial fertilizer products. This page contains valuable information for:

  • Citizens who want to learn about how farmers manage manure resources.
  • Farmers who are considering switching to manure as a crop fertilizer; and
  • Farmers who are already recycling manure on their fields as a valuable nutrient source.
MANURE IS HAPPENING AND IT'S OK. Manure is a fact of life on the farm and an important element in the food production process. Farmers have long recognized the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. Today, farmers still use manure to grow their crops while using the latest environmental practices to protect water quality. Learn more.
It's smarter still, to know which way the wind is blowing when farmers are spreading manure on their fields. To help protect local streams from runoff, Maryland does not allow manure to be spread in winter or when the ground is frozen. March 1 is the earliest farmers can recycle manure generated over the winter to fertilize their crops. The smell isn't so bad - as long as you're upwind. The good news is it usually goes away in a day or two. Learn more.
manure pileIT'S TRUE. CHICKEN IS KING ON MARYLAND'S EASTERN SHORE. But chicken farmers follow environmental rules like everybody else. Maryland requires farmers to stockpile chicken manure over the winter to prevent runoff. Stockpiles are located away from streams, roads and neighbors. They are shaped to "crust over" and shed water when exposed to rain and snow. This protects the manure's valuable nutrient content until it can be safely recycled as a crop fertilizer in the spring. Learn more.

THE LADIES ROOM IS THIS WAY. If only managing livestock manure were so simple. Dairy farmers work hard to protect local waterways from runoff. They install fences, crossings and alternative water sources to keep cattle out of streams. They plant streamside buffers to capture runoff when it rains and they recycle manure from the milking parlor as a valuable crop fertilizer. These sustainable practices are good for both the animals and the environment. Learn more.

FOR CENTURIES FARMERS HAVE RECYCLED MANURE as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. Today, farmers take recycling to the next level by using the latest environmental practices to prevent manure from washing into waterways. Poultry and livestock farmers store manure in protective structures until it's safe to fertilize their fields. If soil tests show that their fields are over-enriched, they haul the manure to other farmers to recycle following strict environmental guidelines. It's how we recycle on the farm. Learn more. 

pile of manure with lightbulbWE HAVE A BRIGHTER IDEA
New technology is helping us to see manure in a whole new light as we capitalize on its potential as a renewable energy source and look at new uses and management options. Maryland is investing in innovative manure management technologies, including manure-to-energy projects that turn chicken manure into power and help farmers find new uses for this abundant natural resource. Learn more.

strike pay dirt with manureTHINKING ABOUT SWITCHING TO MANURE?
Farmers: If you want to improve your soil, increase yields and save on commercial fertilizer costs, why not switch to manure? Livestock and poultry manure make an excellent crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. Manure contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium plus a host of micro-nutrients you'd pay more for in commercial fertilizer products. As an added bonus, manure’s high organic content builds soil and promotes water and nutrient retention. Grants to haul and incorporate manure into your fields are available along with tax breaks for qualifying equipment. Call or visit your Soil Conservation District for free assistance in making the switch. 
baby chicks
ALREADY USING MANURE? Technical and financial resources are available to farmers who use manure to fertilize their fields. Participation in financial assistance programs requires compliance with all Maryland nutrient management regulations. Check out the links at right. Free technical assistance is always just a phone call away at your local Soil Conservation District.