How much is a ton of manure?

Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)July 5, 2008

When farmers refer to adding 'three tons of manure per acre', are they talking fresh, wet manure, or dry manure that's been composting or sitting around for a while?


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Can't say what they mean from an out-of-context statement but I sure hope that it is manure that has been composting or aging for at least 6 months. If so then wet or dry it would be safe to use - wet ton or dry ton.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 6:39PM
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david52 Zone 6

They use the International Bull ShÂt Standard, IBSS, calibrated annually at Greewhich, UK, when they do the clocks.

1 IBSS Ton = output of the official IBS Bull on one acre of rain-fed pasture for 30 days.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 8:03PM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

From what I could find on the web, a cubic yard weighs 600-1000 pounds. Guess it depends on how damp it is. (This is composted manure)

    Bookmark   July 5, 2008 at 10:41PM
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Since most of the manure farmers would have access to would be wet they would be talking about spreading wet manure. I am not aware of any farmer that has access to anything that would dry, dehydrate, manure and that would be cost prohibitive anyway.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 7:24AM
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A farmer could spread fresh manure --the actual safety concern would be how much time elapses from spreading it and actually harvesting a crop ( and what type of crop would also impact recommendations).

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 10:07AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

I am currently reading the old book (50s) 'Gold in the Grass' by Margaret Leatherbarrow, which may be shedding some light on my question.

I've been around a few horse people, and they generally pick up the droppings from their 'bare' corrals, and pile it up, or they run a sort of rake behind the tractor and spread it out. I have never been on a farm..

But what I am reading is new to me. Apparently, farmers in cold-weather areas (this was dairy) put their cows in huge barns in winter, and the bedding, manure and urine build up on the floor of the barn. When spring arrives, they turn the cattle loose, and use heavy equipment to clean out the barns, and spread it over the fields.

So, I am thinking this is semi-composted manure, and is what they are referring to.

I guess farmers in warmer-winter areas just let the droppings fall where they may. Manure dispersal by producer, I guess you would say.

Thanks for the input.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 1:39PM
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You asked ... "how much is a ton of manure?"

Answer... 2000 pounds. (grin)

Now as to the fresh, wet or dry question. It depends on the source of the manure. The 3 main sources of farm use manure are hogs, cattle and poultry (chickens and turkeys).

Most farm manure is applied to cropland in the fall/winter after harvest when the fields are fallow. Some specialty veggie crops are side dressed with liquefied manure in season. But the major crops of corn and soybeans get fertilized in the fall/winter.

In Iowa, hog manure is usually stored though out the year in large concrete pits or tanks. The manure is mostly in a liquid state. Water is used to flush the large hog confinement buildings. In the fall the hog manure which has been aerated in the containment area is pumped into a very large portable tank wagon and then pulled by tractor to the field. The product is then injected into the soil about 2 feet deep with a manure injection implement.

Cattle manure is usually piled in and around the feed lot. The piles are often used as "high ground" in the middle of the lot so than the cattle do not stand in wet mud...they stand in dry dung. So cattle manure is usually a semi-dry product when spread in the fall.

Poultry manure is also a semi-dry product when spread.

Dry manure is usually "flung" out the rear of a manure spreader and just sits on the soil until cultivated into the soil.

Here in Iowa, late in the fall when tourists ask..."What's that smell?" We always answer... "It's money!"

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 2:28PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

David52, that's hysterical. lmao
I have always considered it to be feedlot or dairy barn manure, which is mostly aged with some fresh as it is what has been accumulating since the last time they mucked out the yard. Usually once or twice a year. I don't think that it's really weighted very often. Usually they have a truck or hauler that is "rated" as so many yards or so many ton. that is a rough measure and usually a measure of the max it can hold, not how much it actually holds. Usually spreaders hold less weight than they are rated for, unless you have an unusually heavy load. So 3 ton per acre would be the whole load of a "3 ton" spreader that started out full.
Don't know if that helps, but I think that's kind of the unspoken reality.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 1:15AM
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Way back in time people with livestock might have allowed manure to accumulate in the barn, to aid in providing some heat, but by the time I started paying attention to farm practices, in the 1950's, the manure was cleaned from the barn every day and piled up, with the bedding, and sometimes even with other material to compost, depending on whether the farmer had read Sir Albert Howard. The chicken coops might not have been cleaned daily, but certainly were cleaned at least weekly, even in the winter. Conversations I've had with my Hollander relatives indicates that they would not have left manure accumulate in the barn even before then.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:51AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I know lots of farmers in IL and WI, and I don't know any that let manure pile up in the barn. And for that matter, the cows do go outside in the winter.

I would suggest that people should go and visit a farm and observe how they manage their manure.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 2:02PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Thank you all for your thoughtful observations.

Joepyeweed: "I would suggest that people should go and visit a farm and observe how they manage their manure."

All the farmers do it the same way? Hmmmm....

Here in Stupid Central, the farmers leave their (too many) cattle in the (poor) pastures all year long. If they don't have cattle, they just grow grass and harvest it for hay. They don't seem to add anything to the soil, no manure, no nothing. They just take, take, take and, when they do decide to grow a crop of something other than grass, they wonder why they get such lousy results. The local Mennonites seem to be the exception, and do fertilize. In the tiny local cafe, it can be heard that "All those damn Amish got all the good land".

No, joepyeweed, I think that asking the local farmers anything would be a grand waste of time.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 4:25PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

First of all, who said all farmers do things the same way.

Maybe those Washington farmers are idiots. Here in the midwest we have smart farmers who make alot of money...who know how to manage and reuse their manure.

And yes there are some bad practices out there, but IME, living in farm country, farmers don't last long if they don't know what they are doing.

I think you have a low opinion of farmers, you don't understand what they are doing, and I think you of all people could gain a lot of knowledge from visiting a farm and asking some questions.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 5:35PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

well, you are right and for a small farm that may be so. And that is the way it ought to me.
However, large farms around Southern Cal. and Arizona are not so clean. Feed lots just let huge layer build and muck it when there are not to many head on site or when they have a place to put it. Not very often. Large dairy barns usually move the manure out of the milking barn quickly but then pile it until the can sell it or spread it.
Any way, basicly the answer to the OP's question as to weather it's fresh or not is that usually it's taken from a source where there is material that has been accumulating for some time so it is a mix of old, not so old, and fresh.
hope that helps

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:34PM
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