09 September 2021, USA: Bought synthetic fertilizer lately? You’re probably feeling sticker shock.
This is true for conventional as well as organic farmers because anyone who uses manure will likely see demand and therefore prices go up.
And times of high demand are especially risky for organic farmers who don’t have the option of buying synthetic when supply runs low.
That’s why if using manure is part of your fertilizer program, you need to have a good game plan on how to source it and ensure you have enough fertility.
Scott Niemela, an organic farmer and co-owner of organic fertilizer company Crop Fertility Services (CFS), shares his tips for creating a solid fertility program with manure.
Stock up early
It’s far more expensive to not have enough manure than to buy extra early, Scott says. He recommends organic farmers stock up on their manure in advance. Try to commit to a purchase as soon as possible — even a year out, if you can.
Know what’s in your fertility
Unlike synthetic fertilizer, the amount of nutrients in raw manure can vary, even within the same pile. That’s why Scott says those working with raw manure need to get a nutrient analysis.
Depending on the size of the pile, take 6-12 small scoops from a foot into the pile. Never sample from the surface, Scott says, as it won’t give you an accurate representation of the pile.
Mix your scoops in a bucket and then submit one or two samples for analyses. Sending more than one sample can tell you how much variability there is in the pile.
Work with an agronomist
Whether you’re brand new to using manure or you’re a veteran organic farmer, it’s always a good idea to work with an expert on your fertility program.
Scott recommends finding a good agronomist, noting that it’s personally made a big difference on his own organic farm.
A good agronomist should be able to get at the root of any fertility problems and create a plan to address them.
Scott advises giving them 2-3 years to make improvements on your farm. If they don’t pay for themselves within that time, look for a new agronomist.
In-furrow organic may be the next trend
Liquid in-furrow fertilizers are not a new concept in conventional crop production. But liquid organic in-furrow fertilizers may soon be more commonplace on organic farms.
Scott is currently testing a mix of molasses, humates and biologicals as in-furrow liquid fertilizer on his own organic farm.
He’s always skeptical of trends, so he makes sure to test new products and ideas before he sells them.
Scott says that farmers are welcome to reach out to him at the end of this season to see how the results of the in-furrow trials went.
Supporting organic and conventional farmers
While CFS’ mission is to empower organic farmers, they also work with conventional farmers who want to use organic fertilizer for its nutrient and soil-building benefits.
In addition to selling chicken pellets and raw chicken and raw poultry litter, they offer Purple Cow Organics fertility products, humates, and organic weeding equipment. To learn more about CFS, visit www.cropfertilityservices.com.
Interested in organics? AgriSecure can help
If organics is something you’re interested in, AgriSecure can help. With a team that has first-hand experience of large-scale organic row crop production, AgriSecure can help you get certified, find the right markets, secure organic fertilizer and make the move to a more profitable future.