How Does Cattle Waste Impact the Environment?

cattle waste

If there’s one thing that is constant on many farms, it is an animal waste – lots of it. For hundreds and thousands of years ago, animal manure has been recognized for many essential applications in agriculture. Manure is known as a valuable source of nutrients that can improve many agricultural aspects. From natural fertilizers to the improvement of soil quality –but what are the other environmental impact of a properly handled cattle waste management?

In this article, let’s tackle how pre-incident waste management planning and manure application could significantly affect our environment.

Let’s get started.

Soil organic matter

There are many different factors that could affect and determine the nutritional value of the cattle manure for soils. Some of these factors include the age of the animal; it’s bedding, and most importantly its diet. As mentioned earlier, animal manure is known as a soil builder because of its positive impact on the enhancing the quality of the soil on agricultural lands.

Manure or waste from animal typically contains most compounds that are beneficial for the growth of the crops. This includes nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, micronutrients, and organic carbon. All of these nutritional value from animal waste could not only beneficial for the plant’s growth it could also make the soil healthier.

Health soil means healthier crops. According to studies pertaining to the long-term application of manure in croplands, effective cattle waste solutions or treatment has the ability to reverse or slow the declining levels of organic compounds in the soil. This impact is directly based on the amount of carbon sequestration in the different cropped soils.

Water-holding capacity

In addition to the beneficial effect of animal manure composting on agricultural soil, improve soil structure could also result in an enhanced water infiltration. A greater water-holding capacity could eventually decrease the water stress in the crops, increase retention of nutrients, lesser risks of soil erosion.

Soil erosion and runoff

As mentioned earlier, animal manure application in agricultural lands has significantly impacted the quality of the soil. Based on an extensive data, certain locations in the United States have shown to have lower or reduced risks in soil erosion and runoff issues. Waste from animals typically behaves similarly to the crop residue by reducing the impact of the raindrop that could detach the soil particles.

This process allows them to move offsite with the runoff of the water. Countless data have been gathered and shown that manure can effectively reduce the impact of the raindrop by coating the soil the same way as the crop residues. Short-term application of animal waste on the soil is proven to decrease the risk of soil erosion and runoff leading to a positive impact on the environment.

Energy benefits

Based on a study published by Nature GeoScience, cattle waste is one of the major contributors of greenhouse gases or more specifically, the atmospheric nitrous oxide. However, while manure is a large source of Greenhouse gases, it could be used as a source of energy. The use of methane digesters or biogas in farms acts as an alternative choice for fossil fuels while decreasing the methane, N2O, and synthetic fertilizers at the same time.

Recycling the animal manure using an effective cattle waste management system in agricultural lands could provide new sources of energy as mentioned earlier. Commercial fertilizers containing nitrogen is known to consume a significant amount of energy which results in the emission of greenhouse gases. Additionally, potassium and phosphorus fertilizers could also have energy requirements for processing and mining.


With the best management and treatment practices of cattle waste, all of these aforementioned positive environmental impacts could only be beneficial. By reducing soil erosion, decreased risks of runoffs, energy benefits, to optimizing the beneficial organic matters in the soil. All of this effective treatment and solutions are made possible by the continuously growing and emerging advances in technology.

Keep in mind that, we all have the responsibility to keep our planet clean and promote the use of sustainable resources. By enhancing the efficiency of these solutions, the livestock industry can surely work to reduce emissions of carbon, conserve different resources, and contributes to the overall impact on environmental protection.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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