Meeting the Challenges of Spring Manure Application
Posted on March 3, 2014
Topics: Industry Insight
Spring is a very busy and often hectic time for farmers and livestock producers. They have a limited timeframe to perform a myriad of tasks including soil sampling, tillage and field preparation, fertilization, weed control and planting. Trying to get everything done between the various spring weather elements is often difficult.
In some areas of the country, storms can sporadically sweep in and out causing issues for those trying to determine the best time to apply fertilizer. This is especially challenging in areas focused on nutrient reduction in waterways. Applying fertilizer before or soon after precipitation can lead to increased loss via runoff.
Soil temperature can greatly affect manure application, particularly in nutrient movement. Many states have guidelines based on time and temperature to help decrease nutrient loss. For example, several states in the Midwest require the soil temperature to be above 32 degrees Fahrenheit in order to apply manure fertilizer. An application date March 1 or after is often included as part of that recommendation because most states don’t start warming up until the first part of March.
Some guidelines and best management practices include1:
- Determining the appropriate application rates for each field based upon the manure nutrient concentration, soil tests and the crop being grown on those fields.
- Inspecting manure handling and application equipment to make sure it will function correctly.
- Being mindful of wind speed and direction and how these may impact neighbors during application.
- Determining the location of buffers and sensitive areas in fields to which manure will be applied, and consider the location of drainage areas and tile lines. Remember specific setbacks that need to be adhered to in your nutrient management plan.
Because spring weather can be unpredictable, farmers do what they can to be prepared to apply at a moment’s notice. The application window can be a week or a day depending on the geography and weather conditions.
Farmers wanting to maximize nutrient efficiency and improve manure handling characteristics have turned to More Than Manure® (MTM®) Nutrient Manager from SFP®. Through the use of the SFP patented polymer technology, MTM is designed to help protect phosphorus and nitrogen in manures.
According to Dave Kaltenberg, SFP regional manager for Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, MTM application is very simple, and the product can easily be added to a farmers’ current application process. Kaltenberg explains that when added to in-ground manure pits and lagoons, MTM can help reduce solids and make the manure easier to pump, transport and apply.
“After a harsh winter, you usually have to spend a lot of time breaking up the crust and agitating,” Kaltenberg explains. “MTM will help in that process by breaking down solids, creating a more uniform manure and improving nutrient distribution consistency.”
More Than Manure helps protect phosphorus from lock-up and nitrogen from leaching, volatilization and denitrification, which leaves more nutrients available for plant uptake. Improved nutrient efficiency can lead to better overall crop health as well as a reduction in nutrient losses.
“MTM protects phosphorus and stabilizes nitrogen, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate,” Kaltenberg says. “By protecting those nutrients and increasing their availability, once taken up by the plant, you’re going to get a healthier and stronger crop with bigger roots and stalks. Wet conditions generally increase the risk of nitrogen loss, but MTM can help reduce leaching below the root zone and volatilization if the manure isn’t incorporated.”
Kaltenberg says there are several things farmers need to do to prep for the spring, but says three stand out when looking to apply manure fertilizer.
“It’s important to get the equipment ready, calculate the rates and acreage where the manure is being applied and prepare the manure,” Kaltenberg says. “Nutrient rates are very important and you want to make sure you’re applying the correct amount. This helps you get the most value out of the manure and reduces the risk of nutrient loss to the environment.”
During the spring season, farmers need several things working in their favor to successfully get through all of their tasks. More Than Manure can help farmers get leg up on Mother Nature and spring manure applications.
1Tamilee Nennich and Alan Sutton, Management Tips for Spring Manure Applications, Department of Animal Sciences Purdue University, June 2009
SFP, More Than Manure and MTM are registered trademarks of Specialty Fertilizer Products (SFP), LLC. © 2014 SFP. All rights reserved.
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