Hub and Spokes: Tillage and Manure Management

Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Assistant Professor, Agronomy
Mark Licht, Extension Program Specialist, Agronomy

Situation

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension project to implement an integrated approach that utilizes both large scale field demonstrations and small scale research plots to provide an understanding of the interaction of tillage and manure management effects on the efficient use of nutrients and the potential impact on surface water quality.  This project was a 4-year project involving 16 cooperators with 38 demonstrations in northeast Iowa.

Objective

The objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of an integrated approach of tillage and nutrient management strategies in improving crop performance and nutrient use efficiencies on large field-scale, as well as small-scale, research plots. 

Activities/Output

An important educational component was developed along with the research aspects to disseminate information to area and statewide producers on tillage and manure management such as, field days, workshops, clinics, conferences, newsletters, print media, web pages, and publications.  Information generated by the project was delivered to farmers, agribusinesses, certified crop advisors, and agency personnel in over 40 project meetings, conferences, and extension education programs reaching an audience of over 2,900.

Impact/Outcomes

Material from the project was used in the development of three peer reviewed ISU Extension publications: PM1948, Calibrating Liquid Tank Manure Applicators, PM1901g, Resource Conservation Practices: Manure and Tillage Management, and PM1901h, Resource Conservation Practices: Tillage, Manure Management, and water Quality.  These publications are used by various agribusiness groups, Extension field specialists, agency personnel, and producers for custom and private manure certification programs, as well as various other education events.

Overall producer benefits include a better understanding of site-specific tillage and manure management (Table 1).  The importance of manure applicator calibration and manure application rates was clearly demonstrated, where 82% of the cooperators began applying manure as the only source of nutrients.  This project also gave producers the confidence to adjust manure application rates to determine site specific needs.  Producers were able to gain a better understanding of the ability to evaluate in-season nitrogen needs and post-season nitrogen use utilizing the late spring soil and fall stalk nitrate-nitrogen tests.  Most of the cooperators (79%) felt that they now manage their manure more efficiently because of their involvement in this project. Producers’ responses to project’s evaluation summarized in Table 1.

Table 1.  Summary of survey questions presented to producers who participated in the project from 2002-2004.

 

 

2002

 

2003-2004

Survey Questions:

 

Yes

No

 

Yes

No

Do you believe manure has nutrient value for the crops?

 

100%

0%

 

100%

0%

Do you apply manure yourself?

 

71%

29%

 

64%

36%

Do you use a nitrogen based manure management plan?

 

86%

14%

 

91%

9%

Do you use a phosphorous based manure management plan?

 

14%

86%

 

9%

91%

Do you apply commercial nitrogen along with manure?

 

64%

36%

 

18%

82%

Did you reduce commercial nitrogen use with manure?*

 

22%

78%

 

100%

0%

What is the amount of commercial nitrogen was reduced per acre?

 

50 lb

 

 

35 lb

 

What is the economic saving due to nitrogen reduction per acre?

 

$10/acre

 

 

$8/acre

 

Did you gain new skills or improved your skills during this project?

 

70%

30%

 

70%

30%

Do you manage your manure more efficiently due to your involvement in this project?

 

- -

- -

 

79%

21%

*Response to this question is based on the number of “Yes” respondents from previous question.

 

2005   
150

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu