Sand has become a popular bedding choice for dairy cows. Now the question arises as to what, if any, impact the sand-laden manure has on the farm field’s soil type and texture.
Daniel Andersen, aka Dr. Manure, addresses these concerns in his Aug. 25 Manure Scoop blog.
To start to look at the impact sand-laden manure will have on a farmer’s field, one needs to determine how much soil there is in an acre of farmland. Andersen’s calculations, which you can read in his blog, consider an acre to have about 540 tons of soil. A producer then needs to figured how much and how often manure will be applied to their fields. Again, Andersen calculates what qualities sand-laden dairy manure would be adding to a loam soil type.
The end result Andersen calculates is that applying sand-laden dairy manure will have minimal effect on a farm’s soil – changing a loam (20% clay, 40% silt, 40% sand) to a makeup of 19.9% clay, 39.9% silt and 40.2% sand. Short-term, that is.
However, if you extrapolate that continued application of sand-laden manure over a period of time (Andersen uses 84 years for example), your soil texture would change to a sand loam with 15% clay, 29% silt and 56% composition.
The point Andersen drives home is the importance of producers understanding their soil types, and the long-term effects their farming practices can have on the soil health, as well as the best way producers can manage those resources to meet production and sustainability goals.