Holy Crap! The 17 States Where Farmers Are Really Fond of Manure

farm field

In Louisiana, manure doesn’t stink. Well, at least it doesn’t stink philosophically.

A study by LawnStarter found that in the Bayou State, the number of acres of farmland fertilized with manure jumped 45 percent from 2007 to 2012. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that manure was spread on 145,776 acres of Louisiana farmland in 2012, up from 100,902 in 2007. The figures are included in an agricultural census that’s conducted every five years; the most recent data was released in 2014.

Louisiana is one of 17 states where manure gained ground as a farm fertilizer from 2007 to 2012, based on the number of acres treated, according to our study. The remaining 33 states saw declines. Each year, farm animals in the U.S. generate more than 335 million tons of manure, according to Modern Farmer.

Manure spreader

Equipment spreads liquid manure on a farm field.
Photo: Flickr/Chesapeake Bay Program

Here’s our ranking of the 17 states where manure made its mark from 2007 to 2012 in terms of increases in fertilized acres. In-depth statistics appear in a table at the end of this blog post.

  1. Louisiana (44.5%)
  2. Hawaii (33.8%)
  3. Alabama (30.2%)
  4. Nevada (29.7%)
  5. Colorado (22.9%)
  6. Texas (19.9%)
  7. California (10.5%)
  8. Arkansas (9.2%)
  9. Tennessee (6.0%)
  10. South Carolina (3.9%)
  11. Kansas (3.4%)
  12. Idaho (2.7%)
  13. Indiana (2.0%)
  14. Ohio (1.8%)
  15. Pennsylvania (1.5%)
  16. Iowa (0.6%)
  17. Alaska (0.05%)

‘Bottom-Line Issue’

Carey Martin, director of information and public relations for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, says more corn and rice farmers in his state have been turning to manure — in this case, poultry litter — to cut fertilization costs. Poultry reigns as the top animal category in Louisiana agribusiness, he says.

“Farmers have determined they can use poultry litter cheaper than commercial fertilizer. Litter also comes with the added benefit of adding organic matter to soil,” Martin says.


In Louisiana, poultry farms are a ready source of manure.
Photo: Flickr/United Soybean Board

In the U.S., the price tag of commercial fertilizer ranges from roughly $200 to $600 per ton, according to FarmFutures.com. Meanwhile, poultry litter can run less than $30 per ton, one estimate shows.

“I think farmers in Louisiana will continue to use manure in the form of poultry litter as long as prices for commercial fertilizers remain high and the supply from poultry houses is available,” Martin says. “It’s a bottom-line issue. As long as they can use litter cheaper than other forms of fertilizer, the demand for it will remain high.”

Top photo: Flickr/CAFNR

Below is a table showing the 17 states where the number of manure-fertilized acres rose from 2007 to 2012.

Manure Mania

State# Acres 2007# Acres 2012% Change# Farms 2007# Farms 2012% Change
1. Louisiana10090214577644.5159216644.5
2. Hawaii3859516533.8705634-10.0
3. Alabama45164158814230.261875840-5.6
4. Nevada239263103529.729342043.3
5. Colorado27942034341022.937233650-9.60
6. Texas885395106162419.99715106449.60
7. California64530571297510.5668667941.6
8. Arkansas6687877303659.2677562377.9
9. Tennessee1849011960506.06971558919.8
10. South Carolina2542692641133.9308831150.09
11. Kansas5511165700473.456464582-18.8
12. Idaho2778932853922.735413434-.3.0
13. Indiana6276416401502.01087210403-4.3
14. Ohio8058978202231.81759615886-9.7
15. Pennsylvania123055812489751.52044919373-5.3
16. Iowa233150323477160.72187719443-11.1
17. Alaska184218430.057611551.3
Figures reflect the number of acres of farmland fertilized with manure and the number of farms using manure. Source: USDA

John Egan

John Egan is the former editor in chief of LawnStarter.com. Now, he is a freelance writer extraordinaire. He lives in Austin, Texas.