Top Crop Manager

Features Agronomy Diseases
Innovation cleaning up manure’s image

The general public needs to re-evaluate its perceptions about manure and its potential, according to a senior research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

June 1, 2009  By News Service

May 29, 2009

Manure has a PR problem. Mention it and everyone gets squeamish because they associate it with contamination and disease.

But it's not manure that's the problem, it's our attitude toward it, says George Lazarovits, a senior research scientist for Agriculture Canada.

"We have to stop calling it waste and treat it like one more important element to recycle. We need to stop sprinkling it on the surface of soil where it can't do much good,'' said Lazarovits. "Handled differently, manure is a valuable resource for replenishing our soil.''

For the last seven years, Lazarovits has been researching how the fatty acids found in pig manure can stop the spread of Verticillium Wilt, commonly known as potato scab. His findings contradict standard wisdom that manure actually contributes to the disease. But his research has confirmed that when applied to acidic soil with a pH no higher than five, pig manure has the ability to kill human and animal pathogens.

Lazarovits hopes his research will help develop a product for commercial use.

"Pigs eat mostly soy and corn, and 60 percent of the nutrients in their food end up in their poop. Why not recycle that back into the soil rather than treating it as a waste problem?''

While pig manure is waiting for a process that will give it value, entrepreneurs have created useful products using cow, chicken and horse manure.

See:  Manure needs better PR


Stories continue below