Manure application: New technology from the old world

Matt McIntosh, Farm and Food Care
November 14, 2014
By Matt McIntosh, Farm and Food Care

November 13, 2014, Guelph, Ont – Manure plays a vital role in maintaining soil health, but getting the right amount of manure to the right places at the right times can be challenging, time consuming and expensive.

Growers in parts of Europe have been under intense pressure to develop equipment that strikes the right balance between environmentally responsible placement and maintaining application rates that allow the farmer to get the manure onto their fields economically.

With these challenges in mind, growers who have visited Europe, representatives of the North American equipment industry and advisors from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) have brought a European style “dribble bar” to Canada. Husky Farm Equipment in Alma has teamed up with the German company Vogelsang to attach its 50-foot wide dribble bar to an Ontario-made tanker.

According to Walter Grose, president of sales and marketing at Husky, this equipment could improve a farmers’ ability to apply a consistent amount of liquid organic fertilizer where and when it is needed.

“It’s all about uniform application,” says Grose. “The dribble bar uses tubes that drip fertilizer below the plants and not on them, and has a maximum spreading capacity of 2400 gallons per minute, its economic and environmentally responsible, a win-win.”

“The design ensures every row receives the same amount of fertilizer.”

Grose explains that the dribble bar, which can be attached to the rear of many liquid manure spreaders, operates on a 50-foot (15.24 metres) telescopic boom with drip hoses every nine inches (23 centimetres). Once pumped from the tank into a large, central hose, the manure passes through a “rock box” and “rotocut,” which help filter particulate matter from the manure while chopping it into smaller bits no larger two inches.

A macerator further purees the manure into a uniform consistency before finally distributing it evenly between each hose. The hoses themselves may be shut off individually. They hang several feet below the boom, and can be lowered to a position below the plant leaves. Unlike other systems, manure is “pulsed” into the tubes in groups of five then dribbles down the tube under low pressure greatly reducing odor.

“When manure is handled similar to fertilizer and applied to growing crops, it maximizes the nutrient value while minimizing environmental impact,” says Christine Brown, a field crops program lead with OMAFRA.

“Applying manure below the crops helps reduce crop burn and minimizes odor,” says Ole Beckmann, international sales manager for the agricultural division of Volgelsang, the German-based company that partnered with Husky Farm Equipment to bring its dribble bar design to Canada.

“Since the manure doesn’t dry on top of the plants, that means, for things like hay, your animals won’t have to eat it either.”

Grose points out the boom wings include GPS-controlled section shut off for precise control to eliminate double coverage and the boom sections fold up quickly into a locking hanger for secure road transport.

Crop burn aside, Grose reiterates it is the ease and uniformity of application that makes the dribble-bar stand out. Since traditional area spreaders have not focused on uniformity, often either too much or too little manure is applied to a given area. Grose indicates the dribble bar ensures every row of crops receives the exact same amount of manure. Unlike injection manure spreaders that are often relatively small and time-consuming to use, the dribble bar’s 50-foot boom means the operator can cover a much wider area in less time.

Be on the lookout for this new equipment to be demonstrated at farm equipment shows across Ontario as Farm & Food Care, OMAFRA and Husky Farm Equipment seek opportunities to showcase this equipment with interested custom applicators and livestock farmers across the province over the next year.

A video of the dribble bar manure application can be seen at: http://youtu.be/ZSXdf0LQY1o

Matt McIntosh is with Farm & Food Care Ontario.

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