No longer dismissed as a waste byproduct, manure is now considered a high-value nutrient package that boasts a number of soil-enhancing benefits. With the number of livestock operations in Illinois, manure can be a readily available option for enhancing soybean, and other crop, yields in Illinois fields.

Laura Pepple, Livestock Extension Specialist, University of Illinois, explains how growers can effectively add manure to their crop management plans.


Key Takeaways:


  • Manure offers a complete nutrient package and can provide additional benefits beyond commercial fertilizers.
  • In addition to supplying N, P and K for a corn or soybean crop, it can also provide important micronutrients, which are often needed and occasionally overlooked.
  • Manure also provides soil-building benefits, such as improved soil quality and reduced soil erosion.


  • Manure can be applied at the same times as commercial fertilizers; typically most are applied in the fall, but there’s nothing wrong with applying it in the spring.
  • Adequate soil temperatures are important to ensure that N is properly retained.
  • When applying manure, growers should consider using injection instead of broadcast application equipment.
  • Always have a nutrient management plan that accounts for all nutrients being applied to that field.


  • Not all manures are created equal. Differences come from the species and type of operation where the animals are raised.
  • If using manure, be sure to have an up-to-date manure analysis that identifies nutrient levels, including first-year nutrient availability.
  • To add fertilizer to your crop management plan, start by determining the amount of nutrients available for the crop you plan to apply it to.
  • Many factors go into determining how much manure needs to be applied to a crop. It’s important to work through the calculations to ensure you determine the correct application rate.
  • A nutrient analysis also helps you determine how to adjust rates of other commercial fertilizers.

More information on using manure as a crop nutrient is available from the University of Illinois Extension.

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