Manure Manager

Four farms in NY manure project

November 6, 2009  by  Marg Land

November 6, 2009 – Four
northern New York state farmers are among 10 farmers participating in a
statewide research project.

November 6, 2009 – Four
northern New York state farmers are among 10 farmers participating in a
statewide research project.

Dairy farmers Dan
Chambers of Heuvelton, NY; David Fisher of Madrid, NY; and Darren McIntyre of Lowville,
NY; plus crop manager Jake Ashline at the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research
in Chazy, NY, are participating in the two-year research project that
is evaluating ways to use manure, conserve soil, and reduce fertilizer costs.

The results of the first
year of trials on the farms are now posted in the Agricultural Environmental
Management section
of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program

The research, funded by
the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and the NY Farm
Viability Institute
, is evaluating the application of manure to farm fields in
the spring without incorporating it into the soil (surface application) versus
using an aeration tool for shallow incorporation or incorporating with a chisel

The research team, led
by Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of Cornell University’s Nutrient
Management Spear Program
, and coordinated by soil science graduate student Anne
Place, is also evaluating the impact of the three manure application methods on
corn crop yield and quality, nitrogen availability, and fuel costs.

“Research conducted
under Northern New York growing conditions on how to best use on-farm and
purchased nutrients provides farmers with valuable data that can producer
higher-yield crops and save or make money for the farm while also protecting
the farm’s natural resources,” said NNYADP co-chair and dairyman Jon Greenwood
of Canton, NY.


Dan Chambers

Chambers manages 680
milking cows and 650 heifers at his Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County, dairy farm.

“Participating in
on-farm trials lets me know if I can justify different practices by yield or
economics,” he said.

The aeration tool that
mixes manure with the top layer of soil causes less soil disturbance compared
to the chisel plow that overturns the soil. Previous Cornell research has shown
that shallow incorporation of manure with an aerator is just as effective at
capturing nitrogen with less soil disturbance and greater residue conservation
compared to incorporating manure with a chisel plow.

In 2008, the Chambers’
farm trial showed a two-ton gain in yield by incorporating the manure into the
soil compared to surface application only. The incorporated yield gain was the
same with the aerator and with the chisel plow.


Darren McIntyre

McIntyre manages 160
milking cows and 150 heifers, at Wyndamar Farm in Lowville, NY, in Lewis
County. He is interested in using reduced tillage practices to conserve soil
value. Incorporating manure at his farm in 2008 produced 35 to 45 bushels/acre
more corn than surface application, with similar gains realized by using both
the chisel plow and the less aggressive aerator.

McIntyre notes that the
nutrient gain from incorporating manure in the spring means he can plant corn without
the expense of adding starter fertilizer.


David Fisher

Fisher milks 1900 cows
and grows corn on soils that range from clay to sand at Mapleview Dairy in
Madrid in St. Lawrence County.

“Whatever can help me be
competitive, grow the best crops, improve or learn how to do the best for the
cows is exciting,” he said.

Fisher has shifted
toward less-frequent cultivation of his fields to improve soil health, reduce
erosion, and reduce fuel costs. In contrast to the results at the McIntyre and
Chambers farms, the 2008 trial at Fisher’s farm showed no difference in crop
yield between fields where manure was surface applied or incorporated by chisel
or aerator. The researchers had to look to soil and plant nitrogen tests for
the explanation.

Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) indicated there was already enough N from
soil organic matter for the corn before the manure was applied," said Ketterings. "The
Pre-sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) and the Late Season Corn Stalk Nitrate Test
(CSNT) confirmed the extra N conserved with incorporation of the manure was
needed for optimum yields. At the farms where loss of nitrogen from the surface
application resulted in an N deficiency, we did see that incorporating the
manure was beneficial and the aerator did as a good a job of conserving
nitrogen as the chisel plow.”


Miner Institute

For crop manager Jake
Ashline, the 2008 manure management trial results at the William H. Miner
Agricultural Research Institute
in Chazy, NY (Clinton County) were skewed by
early rain-saturated soil conditions stunting crop growth. The research
continues in 2009.

“The first-year results
affected by weather conditions are evidence of why research trials require
multiple years,” Ketterings said.

Still, benefits of the
2008 trials were noted. Ashline says the aerator mixed topsoil well without
plowing the soil as deeply as a chisel or moldboard plow.

The producers all say
the aeration tool requires less horsepower to pull, reducing fuel costs. In
2009, Fisher applied 60 percent of his farm’s manure using an aerator.

Peter Barney of Barney
Agronomic Services; Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) field crops educators
Stephen Canner, Joe Lawrence and Michael E. Hunter; and Miner Institute
agronomist Eric Young are assisting with the NNY research trials. Learn more
about manure and nutrient management research by contacting your local CCE
office, the Nutrient Management Spear Program or Miner
, and online at


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