Manure & Soil Health: Roundtables to Advance our Understanding of the State of the Science

Farmers and ranchers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of soil quality/health to the productivity and sustainability of their agricultural system. Research and field observations have demonstrated that carefully managed manure applications can contribute to improved soil quality with limited environmental and social risks. However, a comprehensive assemblage of outputs and conclusions from research studies, field trials, soil labs databases, and other sources has never been developed. Therefore, the purpose of the initiative, Manure & Soil Health: Understanding and Advancing the State of the Science, is to assemble current knowledge on this topic, make it available to those influencing manure and land management decisions, and use it to inform and facilitate future research and service needs. The intent of the roundtables is to improve our understanding of: current knowledge, critical and emerging issues for which there are knowledge gaps, and information needs of farmers and their advisors.

What’s A Roundtable?

The four, hour-long roundtables consisted of a panel discussion with experts who were asked to summarize their current understanding of topics. Each panel also included a practitioner who shared perspectives on critical information needs of farmers and advisors and field experiences relative to use of manure. Panels were moderated to encourage interaction with audience. Roundtable participants were invited to ask questions of panelists and share expertise and experience.

When Were The Roundtables Held?

Date/Time Topic Panel Experts

February 9, 2017

Manure and Soil Health Testing Bianca Moebius-Clune
Donna Brandt
Russell Dresbach
Geoff Ruth

February 16, 2017

Manure and Soil Biology Rhae Drijber
Michele Soupir
Dr. Jonathan Lundgren

February 23, 2017

Manure and Soil Erosion, Runoff, and Losses Nathan Nelson
John Gilley
Mike Kucera
Andy Scholting

March 9, 2017

Manure and Cover Crops Tim Harrigan
Barry Fisher
Heidi Johnson
Sarah Carlson

Manure and Soil Health Testing

In the Manure and Soil Health Testing roundtable, our goal was to discover what current soil health tests help to quantify manure impacts on soil characteristics, thus determining which soil test is the best indicator and best value. We debated which types of fields might benefit most from manure used to improve soil health and procedures for collecting samples for soil health tests that would best recognize results from use of manure. Field experiences and observations related to the value of manure as well as what farmers still need related to soil building with manure were discussed. This dialogue was the first of a four part series discussing the current state of our knowledge relative to manure’s impact on soil health.

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Bianca Moebius-Clune, NRCS Soil Health Division

Russ Dresbach and Donna Brandt, Missouri Soil Health Assessment Center

Geoff Ruth, Nebraska Crop Farmer


Other Manure and Soil Health (MaSH) Information