At 6 p.m. Thursday, Dr. Patty Scharko, UK Extension veterinarian will be speaking about herd health issues for beef cattle. Specifically, she will discuss updates and findings from the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center and wintertime calving tips.

This meeting will be conducted at the Madison County Extension Center. A meal will be served at 6 p.m., so call 623-4072 if you plan on attending so that we can make preparations.

Reduce fertilizer bill

With the high costs of fertilizer, farmers with access to animal manure either from their own livestock or from a nearby farm may want to consider using it as a means of providing nutrients to their crops while reducing their overall fertilizer bill. Use of animal waste not only adds nutrients to the soil, but also helps build up organic materials and increases yields.

Correctly applying animal waste to the land requires a farmer to know the manure’s nutrient content, best application times and methods, availability of nutrients to crops and how to balance crop nutrient needs using manures, fertilizers and other nutrient sources.

Testing is a key component. The first step is a soil test to know what nutrients the crop field needs. The next step is to have the manure tested for its nutrient content. Nutrient content of manure varies depending on the type of animal, type and amount of bedding used, manure’s moisture content and time and method of storage.

It is important to note that some manure nutrients are not as readily available to crops as are commercial fertilizers, especially nitrogen. Its availability depends on the crop being grown, type of manure used and when and how the manure is applied.

Growing crops have the greatest ability to take up nitrogen, so manures applied during crop growth will have the least risk of nitrogen loss.

The availability of phosphate from manure in the first year’s crop after application is somewhat less than with commercial fertilizers while potash in manure is comparable in availability.

The Cooperative Extension Service can help producers navigate through the ins and outs of using manure as fertilizer. Several publications are also available to assist producers. Extension publication, “Using Animal Manures as Nutrient Sources” (AGR-146) and a computer spreadsheet ( are available to help determine application rates and fertilizer credits.

(Sources: Frank Sikora, soil test coordinator, and Lloyd Murdock, UK Extension soils specialist)

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

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