The simple answer is it depends on many factors. While not exactly a satisfying answer to a complex scenario, it truly depends on the manure handling system, cropping system, field conditions, weather forecasts, time and labor available, volume of manure in the pit and many more factors. What is the right decision when there are so many factors out of our control? The best answer is to know the risk factors during the time of manure application and minimize those risks while optimizing crop production with those additional manure nutrients.
To help solve this complex scenario, a new tool is available for Michigan livestock producers to use when making decisions on when and where to spread manure. The Michigan State University EnviroImpact Tool is part of the Michigan Manure Management Advisory System that was been developed through a partnership between National Weather Service/NOAA, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), Michigan State University (MSU) Institute of Water Research, Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension. The MSU EnviroImpact Tool provides maps showing short-term runoff risks for daily manure application planning purposes; taking into account factors including precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and landscape characteristics. Anyone handling and applying livestock manure in Michigan can use this tool to determine how risky it will be spread manure on their fields.
Key features of this tool include:
- Ability to sign up for e-mail or text message alerts specific to your field locations for high-risk runoff days.
- Easy visualization of the short-term risk of manure runoff.
- Ability to zoom in on the map to your field(s) and click on the location to determine the potential risk of runoff from manure application.
- Capability to login to the tool to draw and save your fields on the map to determine risk of runoff at any time.
- Automatic daily runoff risk forecast updates from the National Weather Service.
- Access to additional resources on manure management.
Additional Manure Application Considerations:
Risk increases with soil moisture. If you know that your fields are particularly wet, you should know that the risk of runoff from your fields would be higher than what is shown on the risk map. The opposite may hold true if you estimate that your soil moisture values are lower.
Even if the map shows low risk of runoff, your fields may not be dry enough to spread manure. Applying liquid manure (typically equivalent to 1/3 to 1 inch or more of rainfall) to wet fields could lead to a direct manure runoff, even if the field is otherwise a low risk site due to low slope, etc. Make sure your fields are dry enough to accept additional moisture. Additionally, operating field equipment on wet fields could lead to soil compaction.
Liquid manure applications increase soil moisture. An application of 27,000 gallons per acre of liquid manure is the equivalent of adding approximately 1 inch of water to your fields. A liquid manure application effectively increases your soil moisture, and therefore the risk of runoff from fields receiving liquid manure could be higher than what is shown on the risk map.
Snow-covered and frozen fields are high risk. If you have snow on your fields, the risk of runoff from your fields could be higher especially if spreading manure in the later winter months of February or March (due to snowmelt or rainfall).
Some fields are always higher risk areas. These are areas of concern on your farm, and might include fields with higher slopes, tighter soils (clay), poor drainage or close to sensitive areas such as surface waters, etc. Many of these areas should be identified in your Manure Management Plan and/or sensitive area maps. Use caution when applying manure in these areas, regardless of what the risk map indicates.
Livestock producers and manure applicators should contact their local Conservation District MAEAP technician for help in developing a Manure Management Plan that takes into account a manure-spreading plan, sensitive area field maps and alternatives to spreading if necessary. Another great resource for making manure application decisions is MDARD's Right to Farm Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) specific to Manure Management and Utilization.
While the conditions are still fresh, every operation should take stock of manure storage options and look for ways to avoid application in these situations. Over the last few weeks, I have heard more comments than usual from farm and non-farm folks alike about seeing neighbors spreading manure on barely trafficable fields or even from the edge of the road.
If you find your operation in this situation, or if you strained to find fields that can hold up the tractor and spreader without getting stuck, runoff risk is likely to be high and application should be avoided whether you are a regulated farm or not. Spreading just before rain or snowmelt can be just as risky, even if a field can be driven on without getting stuck.
For stackable manure in the short term, temporary pile locations can be identified with the help of SWCD, NRCS, or private sector planners until better storage options can be installed.
New York State and federal cost share options are available annually; meet with your local SWCD and/or NRCS staff to start the process. The Dairy Acceleration Program can help with cost of engineering on farms under 700 cows.
Position your operation for the future: evaluate manure storage needs and implement solutions.
July 12, 2016, Columbus, OH – The North American Manure Expo is about to land in Ohio.
The big event, covering the serious business of using farm animal manure to help grow crops, while doing it safely and greenly, is August 3 and 4 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio, about 25 miles west of Columbus.
March 13, 2015 – Depending on the needs of an operation, manure spreaders can be an integral part of a farm’s daily chore routine or a machine of heavy seasonal use. In either case, preventative regular maintenance can help avoid costly repairs and frustrating downtime.
Daily-used manure spreaders can show increased wear on specific components; this happens gradually and often goes unnoticed. Gradual wear can occur on apron chains, sprockets, bearings and rooster combs. Establishing a regular maintenance schedule helps detect increased wear and gives a producer an opportunity to adjust or repair these components before failure occurs. READ MORE
A dribble bar could be used to apply manure in many situations, such as into a wheat crop at the same time that commercial nitrogen is applied, or before planting in canola, corn or soybeans. Photo contributed.
Spreading liquid manure has always been challenging for farmers. Spraying it on fields is smelly and not terribly consistent. This spreading method can also cause crop damage and excessive run-off. Now however, much improved spreading for liquid manure is now available to Ontario farmers, thanks to Alma-based Husky Farm Equipment. In cooperation with Germany-based Vogelsang, the company has introduced the dribble bar, along with its many benefits.
The dribble bar spreader originates in Europe, where there is widespread restriction of manure application outside the growing season. This spurred the development of new technology such as dribble bars. A dribble bar is just as it sounds – a bar-like system that dribbles manure at low pressure onto the ground below the plant leaves, allowing a greater amount to be applied with more accuracy, less runoff and less crop injury and less odour. “As application accuracy improves and environmental issues continue, combined with opportunities with GIS/GPS, there is more interest in dribble bar and other in-crop application technology,” notes Christine Brown, who has recently studied the dribble bar in her position as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) field crops program lead.
Vogelsang dribble bar technology for dragline units was demonstrated at the North American Manure Expo in 2012. In 2013, Walter and Sharon Grose (owners of Husky Farm Equipment) decided to investigate it further, traveling to Germany to meet with Vogelsang and tour its factory. “This tour assured the fact that the tanker-mounted units could work on Canadian tankers,” Walter Grose says. “These units are widely used in Europe because of legislation and Ontario is cultivating an interest to pre-empt any legislation.”
Brown explains that the dribble bar (as well as other European equipment such as Veenhuis shallow injection technology) offers a tool bar with more rows, which allows for application at ground level in seven to 10-inch spacings with no splash.
“At 10-inch row spacing, there are about 60 dribble hoses on the toolbar which means that at 4,000 gallons per acre, there would be about 70 to 75 gallons/row/acre,” she explains. “Less volume per row means less risk of runoff, and when applied in forage or pasture – assuming soil conditions are fit – there would be faster infiltration.”
The dribble bar also offers greater nutrient application accuracy.
“The distribution system is fine-tuned, so that the amount from each row is more consistent than current splash plate technology,” Brown says. “This makes the manure application more like fertilizer (although there will still be some variation in manure nutrient concentration), but the nutrients are placed closer to where a growing crop can utilize them.”
Although injection into the soil would be even better, Brown notes that it take more time and more horsepower. She also states that if manure is applied to forages or to other growing crops, the system that works best is one that gets many acres covered in a day with less wheel track (similar to sprayer technology). She says a dribble bar could be used to apply manure in many situations, such as into a wheat crop at the same time that commercial nitrogen is applied, or before planting in canola, corn or soybeans. Brown says a dribble bar would also be effective in applying manure to ground with planted canola, corn (up to about the six leaf stage) or soybeans. She believes it would also be very suitable in edible beans before or just after planting, forage crops after harvest (with potentially up to three application opportunities) and in pastures (especially where rotational grazing has been established).
Lastly, Brown believes dribble bars would also work well after cereal harvest, where manure could be slurry-seeded with cover crops (or the cover crops could be established after application).
“Where large fields in corn/soy rotation have erosion concerns, grassed tram lines could be established for less compaction damage and more frequent in-crop application opportunities,” she adds. “For custom applicators, technology that allows manure application to occur during the growing season will allow more days for application in a year and will help to reduce the stress associated with full manure storage when the weather doesn’t cooperate, such as late harvest or wet conditions or early winter conditions.”
Having the manure dribbled at low pressure into the soil a little at a time (and not sprayed in the air) obviously means substantially lower odor levels, but this has not been studied in Ontario at this point. However, Grose notes Vogelsang has done extensive research on how
the dribble bar reduces odor, as well as how it boosts crop yield with its improved placement of nutrients and application timing.
The way the dribble bar prevents manure from touching the plant canopy also means reduced crop burn and ammonia loss.
“We have done ammonia loss studies in forages with dosimeter tubes that consistently show the ammonia loss is highest where the application rate is high (where manure puddles) and takes longer to infiltrate [which is something that tend not to happen with a dribble bar],” Brown explains. “There still could be ammonia burn [with a dribble bar] if the manure applied is a concentrated liquid poultry or hog manure applied at a high rate. But generally this type of manure is not recommended for forage crops that would be the most susceptible to ammonia burn.”
She adds that salt/ammonia injury could be an issue with slurry-seeded cover crops, especially when planted into dry soils.
Attachment and use
The Vogelsang dribble bar can be mounted on any manure spreader, notes Grose, although small modifications may be needed. The amount of modification needed for spreaders over 10 years old would not be cost-effective. In terms of speed, Grose confirms the Vogelsang dribble bar is faster than an injector unit.
“Most injectors are 12 feet wide to fit road width and must travel many times up and down the field,” he explains. “The dribble bar is much wider and can cover more ground.”
The time it takes to fold out the boom might be 20 seconds out and 30 seconds in, and Grose adds the dribble bar does not allow any manure to dribble on the road as it tips up for road travel.
During application, the Vogelsang dribble bar uses a rotary distributor to pulse distribute the manure across the width of the unit.
“When a triangle field is encountered, one side can be shut off or retracted to transport position to eliminate double coverage,” Grose says. “When an area in the field is encountered that has enough nitrogen, the booms can be turned on or off for precision coverage. Each nozzle gets the same amount of coverage whether one side is turned on or off.”
Husky Farm Equipment Limited and Farm and Food Care will be using a tanker with a 50-foot Vogelsang dribble all over Ontario.
“It will have demo days and farm show exposure,” Grose says. “The highlight of the year will be the demonstration at the North American Manure Expo in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in July 2015.”
In terms of studies, Brown is hopeful she may be able to initiate some, but that depends on time and funding opportunities.”
See the dribble bar applicator in action here: http://youtu.be/ZSXdf0LQY1o
August 15, 2014, Kimberly, ID – Applying 50 tons of manure per acre for one year is a heavy application, repeating that rate for eight years is a lot of manure — and a lot of nitrogen.
Amber Moore, University of Idaho extension soils specialist, has calculated that some plots in a long-term manure application study have already received 2,746 pounds of nitrogen in the last two years alone.
She expected to see nutrient leaching from the top foot of soil as plants were unable to utilize that much nitrogen. So far, that hasn’t been an issue, at least, not in potatoes. READ MORE
August 5, 2014, Redwood Falls, MN – A southwest Minnesota cooperative has found good manufacturing success through building products that meet their own stringent criteria.
Artex Manufacturing builds manure spreaders, silage trailers, truck-mounted boxes and rendering trailers that are designed for strength, durability and ease of use. The facility recently held tours during the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association summer tour. READ MORE
The need to be able to estimate the value of manure as crop nutrient source is the result of increased use of manure to replace crop nutrients that have long been supplied by commercial inorganic fertilizers.
“As with inorganic fertilizers, the goal is to meet the crop nutrient needs while avoiding the expense and potential environmental concerns of over-application of nutrients,” said Dharmendra Saraswat, associate professor and extension engineer for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
To answer this need, the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture has released the Manure Valuator app to help producers calculate the dollar and nutritive value of manure applied to a specific field and then share the results via e-mail. The app is now available for use on both iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices.
The app was developed by Saraswat, in collaboration with Karl VanDevender, a professor and extension engineer, both in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
The app is based on a simple premise that the monetary value of manure is linked to the market value of the inorganic nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) fertilizer that the manure is replacing. This means the value of manure depends largely on the crop N, P, K fertilizer recommendation, the manure N,P,K content, and the amount applied.
The app allows the user to enter the cost of his or her local commercial fertilizer source on either a dollar per ton or a dollar per pound basis. If dollar per ton values are entered, the app converts them to dollars per pound of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
The user then enters the crop’s N, K, and P needs, ideally based on recent soil test recommendations available though the county Cooperative Extension Office.
The user then selects one of 18 different choices of dry and liquid manure. If desired, the default N, P, K values can be modified to better reflect the manure to be applied.
After the desired manure application rate is entered, the app calculates the N, P, K fertilizer replacement value for the
specific field crop based on N, P, K recommendation, manure source, and manure application rate. At this time, any input value can be modified to evaluate the impact on the resulting calculated values.
Users of the Manure Valuator app have quick access to several useful features:
- a bulk cost calculator to determine cost per pound of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from inorganic fertilizers
- a database consisting of nutritive value of 18 different sources of manure that allows users to enter custom values for dry and wet manures
- a dictionary page that has been provided to explain each step used in the app
Funding for the app was provided by the Arkansas Corn and Grain Sorghum Board and the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.
The Manure Valuator app is available for free at iTunes (see https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/manure-valuator/id757582921?ls=1&mt=8) and Google Play Store (see https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uaex.edu.manurecalculator&hl=en).
Users can also install the app on their mobile device by scanning the code found in the news archives at www.uaex.edu.
For more details about crop production, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu.
No, that’s not a joke. The folks at DairyNZ Limited have released an app called FDE Calculator (FDE stands for Farm Dairy Effluent Spreading) that helps a farmer work out the nutrient loads in the manure he is spreading on his land. READ MORE
It wasn’t too long ago that manure was just a waste that nobody wanted. For more than a decade, Dennis Nuhn, president of Nuhn Industries Ltd., has watched manure become more appreciated.
“Manure injection and manure in general – it’s come a long way in the last 10 years,” Nuhn told the crowd that had gathered at Jake Kraayenbrink’s farm near Moorefield, Ont., for a manure demonstration day late last summer.
Making the best use of manure means making the best use of a natural resource. Manure is becoming more recognized as a natural fertilizer that adds micronutrients and contributes to the biological control of diseases in the soil.
Nuhn has been involved in manure injection research for more than a decade. Thirteen years ago, he was lucky to be part of a multi-year project doing manure injection with Bonnie Ball and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. As Nuhn described, they used water colored with Freshie dye and dug it up to see where it all went.
“It really was a fun time,” Nuhn recalls. “Injection was a hard sell at that time because nobody really appreciated the value of manure so it never really caught on.”
Computerized spreading with GPS was just coming in at the time, which meant a much more accurate spread.
“All of the lines and the differences between the plots were well defined,” said Nuhn. “It wasn’t so grey as it always was.”
But the biggest change in acceptance for injection though was three or four years ago when fertilizer did the “big spike,” said Nuhn: “Suddenly manure didn’t just smell anymore and everybody started looking to get more value out of it.
“Probably the simplest and easiest way to get more value from your manure is to inject it,” Nuhn told about 135 observers at the demo day.
The 12,000-gallon Quad that Nuhn had brought to the demonstration was fitted with a Dietrich injector.
“The farmer who wants to get more bang for his buck and wants the best application possible will probably go to the Dietrich or something that puts it in the ground,” Nuhn told the audience. “There’s another attachment that Bill (Dietrich) has come out with called closures – which is a double disc that covers the crack up.”
The trouble with injectors is that no one injector is good for every application, said Nuhn. In Iowa, Nuhn sells a lot of double disc injectors that put manure on the ground and throw dirt on top of it. The custom haulers like it – it’s fast and easy and can go through anything – but with injection each application is a little different.
Another issue with manure was when regulations came in that said you couldn’t spread it around the barn forever.
Farmers needed more efficient tools to take large volumes five miles down the road.
That’s where the capacity of the Nuhn Quad came in. The Quad is an integrated system, not just two tanks in line. It was a hard sell in the beginning because it was different, said Nuhn, but the train concept is growing in popularity as custom haulers get bigger and drivers realize the handling advantage of having two tanks versus one larger tank.
With in-tank mixing, the Quad provides a consistent spread too. “What I say is if you spread manure, the key is you want to get the right amount and put it on properly,” said Nuhn “If the first half is different from the last half you’re not going to get the results you want.”
A triple Quad experimental unit is now in the works in Iowa. Nuhn likes the train concept but while Nuhn’s standard double Quad is very maneuverable, able to turn in tight spaces and easy to back up, he admits this one is harder to back up and its use may be limited to larger, flat acreage.
Jan. 24, 2013 - Treated wastewater solids called biosolids are sometimes used by farmers to boost soil nutrient levels. Now research by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist provides new information about how long those plant nutrients remain after biosolids have been applied to the soil.
This work was conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) agronomist Eton Codling, and supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
Biosolids used in agricultural production have been processed to kill pathogens, and their use is strictly regulated to ensure that the materials don't harm the environment, human health or animal health. Farmers who follow pre- and post-application management regulations can obtain permits to apply biosolids to fields where food and feed crops are grown.
Codling measured mineral levels in three different soils that had received a single amendment from a biosolid processed either via high heat, additions of lime, anaerobic digestion, or air drying. The amendments, which were applied at several different rates to the soils, had taken place from 16 to 24 years earlier during previous studies on biosolids. As part of the earlier work, the fields had been cropped after the biosolids had been added, so the biosolid nutrients in the experimental fields had been available for crop uptake for at least 16 years before Codling began his research.
Codling observed that phosphorus levels were generally higher in the biosolid-amended soils than in soils that didn't receive the amendments. This strongly indicated that soluble phosphorus levels in biosolid-amended soils could exceed typical plant requirements for years after biosolids were added.
Codling, who works at the ARS Environmental Management and Byproduct Utilization Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., also noted that phosphorus solubility varied with the biosolid type and application level.
Read more about this research in the January 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine here.
November 15, 2012 – SlurryKat, a slurry-handling specialist company based in Waringstown, Northern Ireland, has announced an international distribution program to meet demand for the company’s manure and slurry distribution technology.
Requests for the SlurryKat tankers are already high throughout Ireland and the UK, and demand has risen significantly throughout Europe. With the company’s domestic success, requests were coming from the U.S., Canada, and across Europe.
“SlurryKat has been growing significantly in Ireland, UK & Europe,” said Garth Cairns, chief executive and principal engineer at SlurryKat. “Our umbilical method of manure/slurry handling and dribble bar technology has put demand for our tankers on top in the world market, and we are rising to the occasion.”
Because of this demand, SlurryKat are now proactively seeking dealerships throughout the U.S.A, Canada and Europe to assist in the distribution of its slurry-handling equipment.
Features of the SlurryKat tankers include:
- 16,000 litres capacity, tandem recessed on 750mm tires for ultra-low ground pressure;
- SlurryKat’s “touch tech” in-cab control and monitoring system;
- Variable speed Hydraulic driven vacuum pump;
- Full commercial running gear and brakes;
- Anti-surge baffle tank system for smooth operation during transport when fully or partially loaded;
- A working width of 40 feet for delivering the slurry uniformly, minimizing nutrients losses to the atmosphere while maximizing crop performance from the nutrients;
- 8.5 feet transport width with full road lighting as standard.
SlurryKat’s pumping discharge system includes a Doda horizontal chopper pump for feeding the umbilical system through a fully automatic discharge arm, allowing the operator to pull up at the field entrance and connect onto the SlurryKat’s non-return pod that sits on the roadside. Once connected to the umbilical system in the field, the load is discharged and released, and the tanker is on its way for another load in a matter of seconds. With SlurryKat’s customizable in-cab technology, the entire process is fully automatic from the safety of the tractor cab.
For more information, visit www.slurrykat.com or call 0044-28-3882-0862 (for international callers).
November 7, 2012 – Farmers in Australia are trying out a new direct drill manure injector developed by a local equipment shop to delivering manure directly into the soil with very little wastage.
According to one of the developers – Peter Watson of Ag-Culture Enterprises – the machine was built to reduce the amount of product farmers needed to grow their crop. By placing the manure right at the root zone and not in the inter space, the product is not washed away during flood irrigation or a large rain event. READ MORE
August 2, 2012 – The annual Ohio State University Manure Science Review is being held August 9 in northwest Ohio.
“Our goal is to primarily continue to educate farmers, educate agency people on uses of manure, things that are working well for some farmers, things that aren’t working well and we’ve got some panel discussions,” Arnold said. “It’s just an opportunity to make the very best use of this nutrient so that we keep it out of the waters of the state.”
The OSU Extension specialist says Manure Science Review isn’t just for livestock producers, grain farmers could benefit as well.
“A lot of the research I do is use of manure on growing crops,” said Arnold. “We’ve had good results in our research plots, I think for farmers who live near livestock producers this will be a nice opportunity to learn how they might put livestock manure to use in their rotation.”
Manure Science Review is being held August 9 at McClure Farms in Paulding County. To register, contact Mary Wicks at the OARDC in Wooster, 330-202-3533.
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Iowa Manure Calibration & Distribution Field DayFri Jun 02, 2017 @ 1:00PM - 05:00PM
World Pork Expo 2017Wed Jun 07, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Manure Storage & Handling Safety WorkshopMon Jun 12, 2017 @ 6:00PM - 09:00PM
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AgSource Laboratories Ice Cream SocialWed Jun 14, 2017 @ 2:00PM - 04:00PM
Iowa Manure Calibration & Distribution Field DayFri Jun 23, 2017 @ 1:00PM - 05:00PM