Best Manure Management to Remember this Fall
With the warmth of summer fading into autumn, fall manure application is just around the corner. Proper manure application has important implications for the environment. When applied correctly, it can improve productivity and reduce the need for commercial fertilizer, benefiting farmers environmentally, and economically, while also increasing field efficiency.
Manure application and nutrient management have been staples of farming practices for centuries. The nutrients utilized from animal manures include nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and more. The ratios of each nutrient can even be tailored and modified depending on the animal that the manure is coming from. These are all macro nutrients found in commercial fertilizer, so the utilization of manure mitigates the need to spread excess commercial fertilizer nutrients. It’s a win-win for nature and the farmer if managed properly!
Nutrient management comes into play when the important components from manure become greater than soils can retain. The limit of nutrient absorption can sometimes be crossed when too much manure is applied and the ground cannot always absorb the beneficial nutrients before rain or snowmelt causes runoff.
To help mitigate this potential problem, farmers utilize multiple application methods. Most commonly, the general best management practices include 1) spreading manure far and thin on croplands and 2) spreading the manure at the proper times.
Applying 25 tons of beef or dairy manure per acre on cropland once the ground starts to freeze is best for fall applications. The ground should be below 50 degrees for the best nutrient absorption rate.
Best Management Practices
Manure application should also be kept at least 300 feet away from creeks and streams and open tile intakes, and 1,000 feet away from lakes to prevent runoff into waterbodies. Conduct soil tests for nutrient levels before spreading to make sure you’re getting the benefits needed for specific fields and crops.
Our Scott SWCD office aids farmers with their nutrient management planning. We offer technical assistance, and personalized planning for your farm and specific soil requirements. In addition, our office also has resources and planning templates to aid farmers on the technicalities and scheduling of manure applications and best management practices.
Contact us today to get started with your personalized nutrient management plan!