A Fact of Life on the Farm...

Chicks Talking 

Centuries ago farmers realized that this plentiful resource makes a great natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. Today, farmers still use manure to grow their crops while using the latest environmental practices to protect water quality. You've come to the right place if you:

  • Want to learn how farmers manage manure resources
  • Are a farmer who is considering switching to manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment
  • Are a farmer who is already recycling manure  as a valuable crop nutrient source.

It turns out, chicken manure not only makes a great fertilizer  it actually builds healthy soils. The organic matter in manure helps the soil store nutrients, soak up water, and ward off erosion. It even promotes the growth of beneficial organisms that make the soil more productive. To protect nearby waterways, farmers must follow strict environmental rules when applying manure. After all, healthy soil and clean water go hand in hand. Learn more about manure and healthy soils here.​


​THERE'S MORE TO MANURE THAN MEETS THE NOSE. Livestock manure makes a great natural fertilizer and soil conditioner. It helps build healthy soils that are rich in organic matter and full of life  both above and below the ground. Follow your nose and you'll see that farmers have begun preparing their fields for spring planting. They use best management practices to make sure that spreading manure does not impact local water​s and the Chesapeake Bay.   Learn more about best management practices here.

Maryland farmers work hard to be good neighbors when spreading manure, but sometimes odors are unavoidable. Farmers who till their fields work manure into the soil. This helps cut down on odors and nutrient losses. Farmers who have switched to no-till farming practices to improve their soil's health, spread manure on top of their fields when conditions are right. All farmers rely on good planning and favorable weather to reduce odors and protect water quality. Watch a YouTube video produced by the Chesapeake Bay Program on how farmers are working to protect the Bay.​
manure pileHEALTHY FARM PRACTICES are not only in style, they're in demand. On Maryland's Eastern Shore, farmers recycle chicken manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. Keeping manure away from waterways is a big deal. Some farmers till manure into the soil to reduce odors and nutrient losses. Farmers using no-till practices to improve their soil's health spread manure on top of their fields. These farmers are required to install wider buffer zones and other measures to protect local streams. Either way, healthy farming practices never go out of style. Learn how chicken farmers manage manure. 

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 how a family-owned dairy farm is working to protect water quality (USDA website). 

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 about our Animal Waste Technology Grants.

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. Contact your Soil Conservation District for free help 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.