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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

October 31, 2019 - 9:53am --

Fall conditions this year have been much more favorable for manure hauling and application compared to the nightmare of last fall.  As harvest continues, more fields become available for manure application.  There are also wheat acres that might benefit from an application of manure.  In a recent OSU Extension CORN newsletter, Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Manure Management Field Specialist provided the following recommendations regarding the use of manure on wheat fields:

            “The application of fall-applied livestock manure to newly planted or growing crop can reduce nutrient losses compared to fall-applied manure without a growing crop. Both swine and dairy manure can be used to add moisture to newly planted wheat. It’s important that the wheat seeds were properly covered with soil when planted to keep a barrier between the salt and nitrogen in the manure and the germinating wheat seed. It’s also important that livestock producers know their soil phosphorus levels, and the phosphorus in the manure being applied, so we don’t grow soil phosphorus levels beyond what is acceptable.

If the wheat is planted at its typical one-inch depth and swine or dairy manure is surface applied there should be no problem applying up to 5,000 gallons per acre of swine manure or 8,000 gallons per acre of dairy manure. If the wheat is emerging when manure is being applied, there is the possibility of some burn to the wheat from swine manure, but this has not happened in fields I have looked at in past years. If the wheat is fully emerged, there is little concern for burning.

As always, print out the weather forecast when surface applying manure. Remember the “not greater than 50% chance of 0.5 inches of rainfall in the next 24 hours” rule in the western Lake Erie watershed. Also be certain to observe the proper setbacks from ditches and streams.”

Of course, in this part of the state we are not under the Western Lake Erie basin regulations regarding rainfall ahead of application, but this is a sound agronomic and environmental guideline to follow regardless as a best management practice.  Anytime manure is applied, the applicator needs to ensure nutrients do not move off the site of application, especially if a stream, creek or ditch that connects to a water source is nearby.  Risk of nutrient movement is decreased by not applying manure within 24 hours of a rain event, and/or by incorporating the manure at the time of application or within a few hours of the application. 

Phosphorus is the nutrient that is driving water quality concerns and nutrient legislation across Ohio.  Match the manure application to soil test phosphorus levels.  There is no agronomic or economic benefit to applying more phosphate on fields with soil test levels above 40 ppm M-3.  On soils with a phosphorus level above 40 ppm M-3 apply no more than crop removal rates of phosphate. 

Farms should regularly sample manure for nutrient analysis.  There can be large variations in nutrient analysis depending upon livestock species, livestock diet, bedding material and how manure is stored and handled, so relying upon book values is not recommended.

For more information about manure use, including sampling and application, contact the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722.


Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.

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