University of Maryland Extension

Manure: Dollars and Cents

Patricia Hoopes

Have you ever wondered how much a manure application is worth for your operation? Manure and other organic products have an economic value because they provide nutrients for crops and save money on fertilizer expense. However, assigning an exact dollar value can be a bit complicated. The University of Maryland has an Organic Nutrient Value Calculator (ONVC) available to assist with this calculation.

The following information is needed to use the ONVC:

  1. Nutrient Recommendations for the planned crop. This should be in your Nutrient Management Plan.
  2. The current analysis for the organic nutrient material you plan on using.
  3. The current prices of the commercial fertilizers you would use if you did not use the organic material.

Once you have this information you can access the ONVC onlineDownload the Excel spreadsheet to your computer. Open it and you will see blue and yellow cells. The blue cells have a drop-down arrow where you will select from options. You may type information into the yellow cells.

The ONVC will display the dollar value of each of the nutrients supplied by the organic nutrient source. Please note, value is only assigned according to the needs of the crop (the recommendations from the Nutrient Management Plan). Excessive nutrients are given a value of “0”.

Other factors to consider are the cost of application and incorporation. Compare the cost of incorporation to the Value of NH4-NL $/acre (last cell in the “Value of Organic Source” table of the ONVC).

Additional information from the ONVC:

  • It will give the value of N supplied in the year of application, and the value of the N supplied in two subsequent years through the process of mineralization.
  • The ONVC calculates the value of the ammonium nitrogen (NH4-N) provided by the organic nutrient source. This is directly related to incorporation practices and the sooner the product is incorporated the more NH4-N is captured.

Additional benefits to the soil from applying an organic product such as addition of organic matter and improving soil tilth are not given any value by the ONVC. These benefits are difficult to quantify and therefore not incorporated into the ONVC.

I hope you will enjoy playing with the ONVC calculator!


Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2020. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.