Odor and Nutrient Management Newsletter

Fall 2004

Integrating manure application and tillage management

by Mark Licht and Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Department of Agronomy

As fall approaches and harvest begins, it is a good time think about manure application and tillage management. Manure is a vital nutrient source, but the application of manure can cause environmental problems, if not applied properly. One of those environmental problems is soil erosion. Manure application equipment typically used by producers and custom applicators in Iowa reduces surface residue to levels that no longer protect the soil from erosion, regardless of the tillage program being followed. Therefore, producers need to review their conservation plans and evaluate how manure application fits into that plan.

Manure application into cornstalk residue
Manure application into cornstalk residue

Manure application is generally not considered a tillage operation even though it acts as one by incorporating surface residue. When planning manure application, conservation plans should be used to determine the amount of residue cover that is needed. To determine how much residue will be left or predict soil erosion after manure application, tillage operation, or tillage program there are several models available to consider. Go to http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/soilmgmt to further explore suitable manure application, tillage management, and residue management best management practices.

Adoption of best management practices throughout an operation include taking into account both manure application and tillage management. Best management practices that integrate manure application into a tillage management system will leave residue on the soil surface for effective soil erosion control. In addition to improving residue management, soil quality will be improved resulting in less nutrient leaching and runoff.

ISU staff measuring residue after manure application at a field day event
ISU staff measuring residue after manure application at a field day event

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Page last updated October 5, 2004

Iowa Manure Matters: Odor and Nutrient Management is published by Iowa State University Extension, with funding support from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service through Cooperative Agreement No. 74-6114-8-22. To subscribe or change the address of a current subscription, write to Angela Rieck-Hinz, 2104 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, 50011-1010 or call 515-294-9590, fax 515-294-9985 or email: amrieck@iastate.edu. Please indicate you are inquiring about the Odor and Nutrient Management Newsletter. The newsletter's coordinators are Angela Rieck-Hinz, extension program specialist, Department of Agronomy, Wendy Powers, environmental extension specialist, Department of Animal Science, and Robert Burns, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering; the editor is Jean McGuire, the subscription manager is Rachel Klein, the production designer is Beth Kroeschell, and the web page designer is Liisa Jarvinen.

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