The Importance of Animal Waste Analyzation for Proper Crop Application

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The manure produced from animal production is a valuable crop fertilization resource. Based on the average nutrient values of the various manure types produced and the current fertilizer costs for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the estimated economic value of the waste produced by North Carolina meat animals exceeds $99 million per year.

Animal manure provides essential crop nutrients, but it is important that the manure is properly analyzed so a farmer knows exactly what they are applying to their land and crops. When using best management practices, animal manure is an extremely valuable resource that will help produce great crop yield.

For the swine farmer, NC law requires waste analyzation by a qualified laboratory within 60 days of any land application. Soil analyzation is required every three years for spray fields. Fertilizing without current waste sample results is simply a guessing game and risks under or over-applying the fertilizer resource. Knowing the current nutrient content of animal waste and matching that to the nutrient needs of the receiving crop will produce a good crop yield and pose no detrimental effects to the environment.

The Agronomic Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services analyzes waste, interprets analytical results, and provides management recommendations for the producer for a fee of $8. To aide farmers in securing this report, the N.C. Cooperation Extension Service schedules waste sample collection days every other month and transports the samples to the lab in Raleigh. In Sampson, we have established the following collection dates for 2020. Farmers may bring waste or soil samples anytime from 8:15 a.m.–5 p.m. to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Sampson County Center at 93 Agriculture Place, Clinton NC 28328.

February 4 (Tuesday)

April 7 (Tuesday)

June 2 (Tuesday)

August 4 (Tuesday)

October 6 (Tuesday)

December 1 (Tuesday)

When taking an animal waste sample for lab analysis, it is important to get a representative sample that reflects the average composition of the resource to be crop applied. For the swine producer, multiple subsamples measuring half a pint to one pint each from 10 – 12 sites around a lagoon should be collected. Always use a clean plastic container for collecting, mixing, and storing waste samples as glass can break and galvanized metal containers can cause contamination and introduce micronutrients such as zinc into the sample. It is best to take the samples at a depth of one foot and at least six feet from the bank. Once collected, these subsamples should be mixed together to form a representative sample that is stored in a clean plastic container three-fourths full. Taking the time to gather animal waste samples properly will give the producer an accurate account of the nutrient content of this fertilizer resource and produce good crop yield after land application.

For any questions about animal waste sampling or proper nutrient land application, contact Max Knowles at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Sampson County office at 592-7161.


The Importance of Animal Waste Analyzation for Proper Crop Application. Adapted from “Waste Analysis” by D. Crouse, K. Hicks, May 11, 2015.

United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS). 2011. Technical Standard 590 for Nutrient Management Planning. United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. Raleigh, NC.