Manure and residue management
by Paul Miller, USDANatural Resources Conservation Service, Des Moines
As autumn approaches, thoughts turn to harvesting the years crops. It is also a good time to empty manure storage facilities and return nutrients to the land for next years crop. Because manure is applied to the land, management of the crop residue is as important as managing the manure.
If you apply manure to highly erodible land, you need to review your conservation plan and ensure that you can maintain the desired residue levels with your manure application equipment. You also need to keep in mind that Iowa regulations require liquid manure from a confinement operation that is not considered a small animal feeding operation to maintain a 750-foot separation distance from other residences, businesses, churches, schools, and public use areas if the manure is surface applied. This separation distance is not needed if the liquid manure is injected or incorporated within 24 hours of application. If the desired residue levels of a conservation plan cannot be obtained after manure application and subsequent tillage and/or planting operations, then changes need to be made in the equipment or the conservation system on the land.
When estimating soil loss from a field, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) considers various factors, including the amount of residue on the soil surface and the residue and organic matter buried below the surface. Other factors are the number of tillage passes and the extent of disturbance to the ground. Equipment manufacturers have developed and continue to improve injectors that disturb less ground and surface residue. If you are not able to change your manure application equipment or meet the requirements of your conservation plan, you need to visit with the conservationist at your local NRCS office. Additional or different conservation practices may need to be implemented to compensate for the reduced residue levels.
Before applying manure this fall, take time to review your manure management plan and your conservation plan to ensure that they can be implemented effectively. Following both plans will result in proper manure use and good erosion control.
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Page last updated October 5, 2004
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