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Amanda Little

Fertilizer Shortages Finally Give Dung a Chance

Farmers are clamoring for chicken and livestock waste to give their crops and soil a healthier nutrient boost as chemical-based products become unaffordable.

Ickier, but better.

Ickier, but better.

Photographer: MIRA OBERMAN/AFP

Skyrocketing prices for chemical fertilizers is creating hardship across the US farmscape — but there’s a silver lining: Manure is making a much-needed comeback.

Farmers in the US can't get enough organic waste from pigs, chickens, horses and cattle. As the cost of commercial fertilizers tripled in recent months, the demand for manure in major agricultural states such as Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois has doubled. Manure is now about 25% cheaper than synthetic fertilizers — a good enough argument for many farmers to make the switch.