Ahh, the wonderful smells of the country. Fresh cut hay, wild flowers blooming, dew drying on the grass, but there is one smell that stands out above the rest…manure. While it is debatable if manure smells “good”, farmers know that manure is the healthiest way to improve the soils of their land.
When applied correctly, manure can:
Increase soil carbon and reduce atmospheric carbon levels,
Reduce soil erosion and runoff ,
Reduce nitrate leaching ,
Reduce energy demands for natural gas intensive N fertilizers.
Organic farms, such as ours, rely on manure to provide the nutrients needed to grow healthy crops. We have a natural nutrient cycle on our farm. Crops grow on fields fertilized with animal manure and the crops are then fed to the animals. Grazing cattle makes it really easy to fertilize our fields. As the animals graze, they leave their manure spread out in the fields. It is easy to spot the places that the cows have fertilized by the bright green grass that is taller than the grass around it. The manure that we collect in the holding areas and dry lots (around the barn) we compost and then spread on our fields and pastures.
Manure is a very valuable “crop” on many farms. Farmers educate themselves so that they are knowledgable about effective manure application. By following best management practices (BMPs) farmers prevent excessive manure runoff and potential pollution.
On our farm, we have a manure management plan. Each time that manure is applied to a field, we record the location and amount in a calendar book. We also try to avoid applying manure when rain or other weather events could increase chances of wasted nutrients through runoff. And out of respect for our neighbors, we try not apply manure on weekends when they are outside enjoying their days off.
For our farm, it is very important that we keep our soils healthy. This translates into healthy animals and therefore healthy milk and meat for our family and customers. If you want to learn more about the benifits visit the University of Minnesota Extenstion website: http://www.extension.org/pages/Environmental_Benefits_of_Manure_Application
Meat update: Chickens are now available. Please call Lisa at 952-461-3428 to order or pick up. We are also taking pre-orders for pork. As always we are more than happy to show you and your family around our farm when you come and visit.
So the next time you are driving in the country and smell that destictive “country” smell, open the windows, unplug your nose and say “that is what healthy soil should smell like.”