Iowa Agency Seeks Ban on Applying Manure to Soybeans

Attempts by Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) to ban the application of liquid manure to ground planted to soybeans is another unnecessary prohibition that could negatively impact pork producers, according to Gene Ver Steeg, president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Declares Ver Steeg: “The EPC is ignoring a recent Iowa State University suggestion that the number of pounds of nitrogen applied per bushel be reduced (not banned) from the current rate of 3.8 lb. to a range of between 3.1 lb. and 3.4 lb.”

Banning manure application to soybean ground will no doubt lead more producers to a continuous corn planting program rather than a corn-soybean rotation.

“In my estimation, this is not an environmental issue,” continues Ver Steeg. “It really comes down to economics. Research shows that applying manure to soybean fields can increase returns as much as $35 an acre. This is because soybean fields need the micro-nutrients, phosphorus and potassium supplied by animal nutrients.” Scientific studies show that soybeans use the nutrients in manure.

“State regulators should focus on proper application techniques, not an outright ban,” adds Tracy Blackmer, director of research for the Iowa Soybean Association.

Some state estimates show that probably 10% to 20% of the state’s livestock farmers actually apply manure to soybean fields. Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources plans to offer a notice of intended action for approval at the EPC’s November meeting. If approved, a public comment period would follow. A final vote by EPC is not expected until next year. The legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee could move to block or delay the measure.