Before applying as fertilizer, have manure tested for nutrients

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Properly using manure as a fertilizer can be economically and environmentally beneficial. 

How-ever, nutrients in manure vary widely, and therefore it is important to have your manure tested before application.

Testing allows for accuracy in nutrient management specific to your crop needs, and it minimizes water contamination caused by nutrient run-off or leaching.

To have manure tested, gather samples and bring them to the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Office.   Before the samples are sent off, you will need to fill out some paperwork, similar to that of a soil sample.  The cost is $25 per sample.

Once the completed paperwork and samples are in hand at the Extension Office, we ship the samples to the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture’s Division of Regulatory Services Soil Test Laboratory.

Results will be available in approximately one to two weeks. Upon return, I will interpret the analysis results and determine the appropriate application rates.

A sample must be sent for testing within 60 days prior to the date you plan to apply the manure since the nutrients can change with time.  If you cannot deliver the sample to the Extension Office on the day of collection, refrigerate or freeze the samples until you are able to deliver them.

Below are suggestions for collecting manure samples and preferred transport methods:

Poultry and beef cattle manure.Gather manure samples from poultry litter before you clean out the poultry house.  Collect ten to twelve samples from different areas of the poultry house and put them all in one clean bucket.  Mix the samples together and place the combined sample in a double 1-quart resealable bag for shipping.  Fill the container one-half to three-fourths full.

Manure samples from cattle are gathered, combined, and transported in the same manner.

Swine and dairy cattle manure.Collect liquid manure from dairy or swine held in a lagoon several feet into the lagoon, and not from the edge. It can also be gathered as the lagoon is being emptied.

Liquid samples should be placed in the plastic bottles provided by the Extension office. Call me to acquire a bottle. Fill the container one-half full. It is very important to not fill these plastic bottles completely, as the manure produces gases that can cause the bottle to explode.

For maximum nutrient efficiency, it is important to apply the manure close to when the crop is planted.  If you must use the manure in the fall, plant a cover crop to decrease the loss of nitrogen.

Dates of interest

Feb. 21:Extension District Board Meeting, 6 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.

Feb. 25:Carroll County Cattlemen’s Association Meeting, 6:30 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office. Guest speakers include Stacie Rockaway, western district field representative for U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie, and Charlie Johnson, Jeff Purvis and Chad Higgins from Bear Branch. A meal will be included.

Feb. 26:Riverview Farmer’s Market Meeting, 6 p.m., Carroll County Extension Office.


Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.