Monday, November 17, 2014

Commercial Manure Applicators in Iowa - The Manure Business

As you may be aware Iowa has a Manure Applicator Certification Program that is mandatory for all commercial manure applicators (businesses that are paid to  transport and haul manure) and confinement site applicators (farmers who apply their own manure and have more than 500 animal units raised in confinement buildings). This is an annual training where attendees learn about safety aspects of handling, transporting, and land applying manure, how to best utilize their manure resources, and how to minimize the impacts that manures can have on the environment.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Iowa is number 1 in both pork and layer production, and this leads to lots of manure; somewhere around 8.6 billion gallons of liquid/slurry manure and another 6 million tons of solid manure. Although this may sound like a lot, crop production in Iowa has plenty of capacity to utilize all these nutrients (check out How much manure is there in Iowa at to get the scoop). Using these resources is just a question of getting the manure to the right place at the right time, that’s where our commercial manure applicators come in. In 2014 we had over 600 business certified as commercial manure applicators representing over 90 counties in Iowa and six of the surrounding states.

A recent survey of these businesses suggests that our commercial manure applicators are applying more than 3 billion gallons of our liquid/slurry manure, or at least 30% and over 1.5 million tons of solid manure or at least 25% of the solid manure in Iowa. With an average price of about $0.02 per gallon of slurry applied or $6 per ton applied that means these companies are doing about $70 million worth of business annually, while moving and applying the equivalent of about $250 million worth of fertilizer value!

As you can see, the business of manure is booming and as a result, our applicators are doing what they can to ensure their customers are getting the most from their manures while protecting the environment. This might include incorporating the latest technology to get the manure out to the field faster, better control how over how it’s getting in the ground and how well its covered, or even better documenting when, where, and how much as applied at the field scale level by using gps mapping technologies.