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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Agriculture and Wastes - a Relationship Or a Conflict?

Author
item Clark, Ray

Submitted to: Conservation and Production Field Day Proceedings
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: August 30, 1995
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This handout is prepared for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Pollution Prevention Technical team at Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, they are sponsoring a Waste Reduction Information Exchange on August 30, 1995 at the Amarillo Civic Circle. Interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: Wastes have been traditionally burned, dumped in the ocean, or buried/ spread on the land. As the volume of wastes increased, these practices created hazardous conditions. Open dumping on the land creates runoff and deep percolation of polluted water. Ultimately most wastes end up being applied to the land as either a land application or as a disposal. When wastes are applied at reasonable rates, they become a benefit to agricultural production and do not cause harmful long term effects. Crop residues when maintained on or near the surface prevent soil erosion, decompose leaving nitrogen, phosphorous, and other needed nutrients, and provide organic matter. Plant residues retained on the soil promote a viable, living soil that is productive. Animal manures have been used for centuries to enhance plant growth, however, farmers always had more land than manure so application rates were low and no pollution was evident. Large feeding operations have created huge volumes of unwanted manure because dry manure spreads unevenly, contains trash and weeds, and costs more than fertilizer. Applications of manure and sewage effluent have proven to be beneficial when application rates match the nutrients than can be utilized by crops. Annual applications of 10 tons of beef manure provide sufficient nitrogen and phosphorous for irrigated grain sorghum in the Texas panhandle. Municipal and agricultural wastes can be beneficial for agricultural production when applied in reasonable and usable rates. The use of these products produced a partnership with agriculture and we see few conflicts. A conflict exists only when someone tries to overload the land with too much waste material.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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