Using livestock manure to fertilize fields is hardly a new concept. But the University of Illinois (U of I) plans to update the process for a greater return while eliminating potential problems.

The program is under the direction of Michael Ellis, professor, Department of Animal Sciences and head of the Swine Odor and Waste Management Project.

Ellis points out that more than half of the nitrogen in swine manure is lost to the atmosphere during manure storage and application. Capturing this loss would reduce nutrient loss and environmental impact, while lessening the use of chemical fertilizers on farm fields.

Those are some of the goals of the project, “Integrated Crop-Livestock Production Program.” “We can track nutrients through the entire cycle and quantify what happens to the nitrogen at each stage from the grain through the animal and the manure and back to the crop again,” explains Ellis. “Next year, we will follow up with detailed experiments which will require some special facilities.”