Do you know how much your hog manure is worth?

If not, it's time to find out.

"I wanted to give producers a tool that would show what they're hog manure is worth when they approach crop producers about spreading manure on their land," says Ken Stalder, animal scientist, Iowa State University. So, he created the Manure Nutrient Value Calculator (V1.0).

The software also allows a diversified livestock/crop producer see the value of the manure he spreads on his own land. "It can help a producer view his operation as a complete system, not just a pork operation," says Stalder.

One goal behind this effort, is to get the whole agriculture sector working together. In Iowa, and many other states, there is a growing animosity between crop and livestock sectors. In fact, many of the nuisance lawsuits in Iowa have been filed or co-filed by crop producers.

The Manure Nutrient Value Calculator (V1.0) software is a spreadsheet program that works with Microsoft Excel 97 or newer and uses about 265K of space.

Stalder and program specialist, Garland Dahlke, developed the program to help determine nutrient values from all types of animal manure. However, to begin the process, you will need to have the following information on hand:

  • Manure form (liquid or solid) and quantity - or your manure-storage capacity dimensions.
  • Manure-handling costs per unit or the total cost.
  • Manure nutrient analysis.
  • Soil analysis report.
  • Desired manure application rate.
  • Commercial fertilizer price.
  • Crop rotation.
  • Remaining commercial fertilizer requirement after desired manure levels have been applied.
  • Acres covered.
  • Financial breakdown based on manure and commercial fertilizer values.

The software asks for information on what form and quantity of manure you're using and its handling cost," says Stalder. "You also enter soil and nutrient analysis results, and the desired application rate and price of commercial fertilizer. The program then can tell you how many acres your manure will cover, how much commercial fertilizer you will need to apply, and the cost of applying all the fertilizer to that specific piece of land."

With the noted information on hand, it should take less than an hour to get a final manure-value analysis. You can customize the software to specific situations - as long as you know the crop needs.

"Increasingly, regulations require that you apply nutrients to meet crop needs, and not apply excess," says Stalder. "The program will provide the producer with a one-page printout that he can take to approach a neighboring crop producer."

There are comment and tip boxes located throughout the program, which help users understand how to use the spreadsheet and where to enter specific inputs, notes Stalder. "As long as the user remembers to enable macros in Excel, the program will work."

In addition to viewing calculator results on-screen, a printed summary can be used as you work with neighbors, Extension field specialists, crop consultants and others to develop manure- and nutrient-management plans for your operations.

Stalder emphasizes that this program is not exclusive to Iowa; pork producers anywhere can use it.

To find out more about the Manure Nutrient Value Calculator (V1.0) software or to order a copy for $10 each, contact Stalder at (515) 294-4683 or the Iowa Pork Industry Center at (515) 294-4103.