Economic of Manure Management

The handling of manure is a cost associated with the livestock portion of the farm. Handling manure has many costs connected with it, including equipment purchase and maintenance, the opportunity cost of the time it takes to apply manure to fields, and the liability if something goes wrong and there is a spill. Additional costs may be incurred where the land base is limited and additional land must be rented, or in situations where manure agreements must be established.

Manure has value. Although mainly credited for its nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) value, manure is valuable for the organic matter additions to the soil (especially solid manure and higher dry matter liquid manures), and for the micro nutrients added.


The nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content of manure have the most value when used in areas where soil fertility levels are lower. In these situations, there actually is a cost savings from not having to add commercial fertilizer. In fields where soil fertility levels are already very high, building additional soil fertility with manure will increase environmental risk. It will take many years before the phosphorus and potassium added by the manure will be utilized.

Organic Matter

The organic matter component of manure adds raw plant residues and microorganisms to the soil, which serve as a “revolving nutrient bank account” as well as an agent to improve soil structure and maintain soil tilth. The addition of manure helps to maintain soil organic matter levels, which improves soil moisture holding capacity and nutrient uptake by the crop.

Most soils in Ontario have a soil organic matter level in the 2 to 5 percent range. Decomposition and mineralization of nutrients from that range will release an estimated 40 to 80 lbs of nitrogen per acre per year. By maintaining the soil organic matter level with the long-term use of manure, it adds the additional value of soil health as well as a potential reduction in crop nitrogen requirement.

Manure Economics Worksheet

This worksheet compares the cost of commercial fertilizer application to manure application using average hog manure analysis. Nitrogen application is based on recommendations, while phosphorus and potash application meets crop removal levels. In the spring of 2011, the average cost of commercial fertilizer approximately:


N $0.55/lb
P205 $0.70/lb
K20 $0.50/lb


Average Provincial Custom Work Rates

Fertilizer Application
Cost $/ac
Cost $/hr
Custom Spread Dry Fertilizer
Rental of Dry Bulk Applicator
Anhydrous Application
Liquid Sidedress Application
Tillage Operations
Cost $/ac
Cost $/hr
Moldboard plow
Chisel/Soil Saver
Disc (primary-secondary)
Inter row cultivation
Rotary hoe


Provincial Average Cost of Manure Application

Spreader Type
Average Cost
$/1000 gallons
Solid Loader only


(range 50-85)

Solid Spread only


(range 65-135)

Solid loader and spreader


(range 80-190)

Liquid Drag hose boom applicator
Liquid Drag hose – injected
Liquid Tanker – surface applied


(range 90-150)

Liquid Tanker surface applied + incorporation
Liquid Tanker – knife injection
Truck transfer

Source:2009 Custom Farmwork Rated Charged in Ontario


Worksheet – Manure Versus Commercial Fertilizer

Your Situation

Corn Yield Goal: 175 bu/ac

NPK applied 160 lbs N

60 lbs P205

50 lbs K20


Yield Goal: _______bu/ac

NPK applied _______lbs N

________lbs P205

________lbs K20


Your Situtation
Method 1: Commercial Fertilizer

Fertilizer through planter:


115 lbs MAP $41.40

Liquid Fertilizer $0


Additional fertilizer


150 lbs N (as 28%) $75.00

150 lbs K (once/3 years) $24.50

Application costs $13.67

Fertilizer through Planter:


________lbs________ $_______

Liquid Fertilizer


Additional fertilizer


________lbs________ $_______

________lbs________ $_______

Application costs $_______

Total Cost $154.57 Total $_________


Your Situtation
Method 2: Manure Application


3000 gallon tanker with 30 ft spread-width covers 6 acres per hour) + cultivator


Application Rate: 3000 gallons/ac liquid hog


Analysis 80 lbs N

71 lbs P205

57 lbs K20

N-P-K Value $120

Organic Matter Value $ ?






Application Rate: _______________



___lbs N

___lbs P205

___lbs K20

N-P-K Value $_______

Organic Matter Value $_______


Cost of Application: $33.00


Additional fertilizer: $40.00

(80 lbs N (28%)


Application costs: $11.00

Cost of Application: $_____


Additional fertilizer: $_____

_____lbs N


Application costs: $_____

Total Cost $84.00 Total Cost $_________
Net Value of Manure=$120 – $84= $36/acre

Net Value

$____ – $____ = $______


The further the field from the manure storage, and/or the less concentrated the manure, the higher the cost of application, and therefore the lower the net value of the manure. If the fields were far enough away that only 3 loads were applied per hour (ie. only 3 acres per hour), then the application cost of manure would increase to $54/ac and the net value of manure would decrease to $15/acre.