Joel DeRouchey – Applying Manure

(Joel) My name is Joel DeRouchey, Extension Livestock Specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences. And today I want to visit about applying manure to fields. This is a perfect time of year as the fall crops start to come off that livestock producers, especially our beef producers and dairies that have manure that’s accumulated over the summer begin to scrape and then also then subsequently apply that manure to fields that crops have been removed. And manure is used for a variety of reasons, primarily obviously as a fertilizer source to help offset the cost of commercial fertilizer. When producers are starting to apply manure this fall a couple of things they need to take in to account. The first is knowing what the nutrient content of the manure is itself. That way as we apply the manure we know how many pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, those essential nutrients that most farmers account for when they…as they purchase commercial fertilizer, how much that we can offset in terms of purchasing less commercial fertilizer. The other thing that we must take into account is the actual soil level of these nutrients as well. Because we want to match up how much manure is needed for the given acreage or the acres that it’s actually going on. Manure can serve as an excellent fertilizer source, often times, especially if farm ground has not received manure previously, we can often see a bump or benefit in yield in the subsequent yield, from the extra organic matter as well as potentially the introduction of a lot of the trace minerals that we do not normally put out through the commercial fertilizer mixes that producers purchase. When producers sample manure, we want to be sure that within a given pile, most manure that’s scraped up or from the feedlot surface, we want to go ahead and get a good representative sample. Normally that can be done by grabbing samples and putting them into a 5 gallon bucket. Next thing is to sub sample it down to a pound or two and there’s many commercial labs available in Kansas and surrounding states that we can send those to. And our local County Extension office can help provide information in terms of which lab is available to get the nutrient content for us. Now for soil sampling, that’s often done simply with a soil probe. Many producers do that themselves or it can be done through the different Coops and crop consultants that they may work with to get soil samples. And at the K-State Soil Lab, they run soil samples year ’round. They are one of the primary places that soil samples are sent into in Kansas. Then fertilizer recommendations can be provided back. And so between the manure analysis and soil sample, we want to map those up so we’re not applying extra manure or wasting nutrients. At the same time, we want to make sure we have an application that’s enough that we’re not shooting the crops for next year’s needs in terms of the nutrients that they need to provide the optimal yields for the producer.

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