Envisioning the manureshed: Toward comprehensive integration of modern crop and animal production

J Environ Qual. 2022 Jul;51(4):481-493. doi: 10.1002/jeq2.20382.


The specialization and intensification of agriculture have produced incredible gains in productivity, quality, and availability of agricultural commodities but have resulted in the separation of crop and animal production. A by-product of this separation has been the accumulation of manure regions where animal production is concentrated. Enter the "manureshed," an organizing framework for integrating animal and crop production where budgeting of manure nutrients is used to strategically guide their recycling and reuse in agricultural production systems where manure resources are of highest value. To move beyond regional nutrient balance analyses into the transformational realm required to mitigate "wicked" manure problems, manureshed management requires recognition of the challenges to systematically reorganizing resource flows. In better integrating crop and livestock systems, manureshed management must account for the unique nature of managing manure nutrients within individual livestock industries, anticipate trade-offs in substituting manure for commercial fertilizer, promote technologies to refine manure, and engage extensive social networks across scales that range from the farmgate to nation and beyond.

Manuresheds offer a system-level strategy for recovering manure's fertilizer value. Manuresheds address nutrient imbalances and environmental and socioeconomic outcomes. Manuresheds scale from single operations to a “mega-manureshed” transecting the southeastern United States. Manureshed management supports the strategic alignment of technologies, markets, and networks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Animals
  • Crop Production
  • Fertilizers*
  • Livestock
  • Manure*
  • Nitrogen / analysis


  • Fertilizers
  • Manure
  • Nitrogen