THE NUTRIENT CYCLE

THE NUTRIENT CYCLE

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

THE NUTRIENT CYCLE

The transformation of organic and inorganic matter — in this case, cow manure — through decomposition into inorganic nutrients used in the production of living matter (as fertilizer for row crops) that is harvested then fed back to the same cows in a continuous cycling of nutrients.

DEPENDING ON HOW IT’S MANAGED, MANURE ON A DAIRY FARM LIKE KEN’S CAN EITHER PROVIDE VALUABLE NUTRIENTS TO FERTILIZE SURROUNDING ROW CROPS OR NEGATIVELY IMPACT LOCAL WATERWAYS.

HOW IT WORKS
1) Cows poop; 2) Manure from heifers and cows pushed into semi solid cement pit; 3) Liquid Manure (runoff from rain and milking parlor water, washing water) goes into lagoon; 4) Wait until after fall harvest; 5) Test soil to prevent overloading of nutrients, which can lead to leaching of zinc, nitrogen, etc.; 6) Test manure for potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus; 7) Determine the right amount of nutrients to apply on fields; 8) Incorporate liquid manure from lagoon into soil using hose and tractor.

Before Ken had this lagoon he and his sons had to load manure from their cow barn into a spreader and put it directly on their fields, or stockpile it on top of soil and wait, which often led to it leaching into local groundwater.