Answers to the most beneficial methods of using animal manure as an alternative to costly commercial fertilizers is a click away on the Internet, thanks to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service’s national connectivity.
“One of the great benefits of Cooperative Extension is that it draws together unbiased, science-based information from the entire land-grant system: local, area, district, state, national and even international, in some instances,” said Josh Payne, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension animal waste specialist.
Payne and Ray Massey of the University of Missouri are among specialists who have taken advantage of the national extension Web site at http://www.extension.org to expand access to information for helping producers and others determine the economic viability of manure use, especially transportation and application costs.
“High fertilizer prices are significantly changing how producers manage their resources, making it more important than ever to balance many varied economic and environmental factors,” Payne said.
Payne and Massey’s information is available from national extension’s front page by scrolling down to “Farm” on the right side of the page and then clicking on “Animal Manure Management.”
“Some people prefer to bookmark the manure value and economics Web page for future, direct access while others find it useful to continue to gain access through the main page,” Payne said.
One advantage of working through the national extension main page is that there are a number of useful tools that may catch a user’s eye, including recent news items, listings of recently updated subject matter, an events calendar, and information on live and archived Web casts from the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.
The Web resource, launched in March 2008, logs more than 15,000 accesses per month.
National extension contributor Mark Risse, a professor at the University of Georgia, believes it to be the best single Web source for science-based information on manure.
“Beyond people that advise producers, county Extension agents, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff and consultants, we are finding that policy makers, producers, the general public and even other scientists are using the Web site,” he said.
Information provided includes manure treatment technologies, storage and handling, environmental planning, regulations, nutrient management plans and more.
Payne recommends that agricultural producers and service providers, homeowners and others make use of national extension along with other easily accessible resources available through OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, such as OSU Extension fact sheets available online at http://osufacts.okstate.edu and through local Cooperative Extension county offices.
He said it is important for Oklahomans to realize that the division is comprised of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and two statewide agencies: the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system and, of course, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
“We work with division research stations to develop demonstration plots for producer field days, providing opportunities for hands-on learning,” Payne said. “Our Cooperative Extension county educators meet face-to-face with residents and organize local meetings that bring in appropriate subject matter specialists from the division’s area, district or state offices, or from cooperating agencies and organizations. Extension is not quite one-stop shopping but it is pretty close.”