Will we be side-dressing manure in the future?

Side-dressing manure for the nitrogen value may be in our future.

The 2011 spring is a reminder of how few days we may have to complete all our spring work; there may not be an opportunity for manure application. Ohio State University has been successfully testing a dragline system of manure application as a side-dress application on corn. This can increase the application window of manure and apply nitrogen at a critical time for the corn plant. This can offset the cost of nitrogen fertilizer, replacing it with manure applications that were going to occur anyway.  

Is this cost effective and does it produce equivalent corn yields to side-dressed fertilizer?  Results at OSU say yes.  A complete report on the financial implications is available.

A project in Wood County, Ohio is comparing side-dress applications of manure to conventional 28% UAN and dairy manure. The manure side-dressing unit has a “spool” that lays the dragline down as the tractor moves one direction down the field, and then picks the dragline up on the next pass and so on. It reduces odors by injecting manure into the ground where it is less exposed to air and wind movement. It also allows producers to apply manure into the summer as one would with conventional side-dressing applications.

The research project will look at the viable corn plant population for silage as well as grain corn yield. Being able to side-dress manure with a dragline may be the answer to expanding the manure application window, reducing compaction and, anytime manure is injected, odors are reduced. This project should answer the question of whether the method provides more benefit to crop yields and silage mass than conventional 28% UAN. We are also slurry seeding fescue and rye grass into some of the plots during the manure side-dress application to see if it will provide a viable forage crop after silage harvest.

Watch a video of the dragline side-dress equipment in action.

Thanks to Amanda Meddles and Glen Arnold, Ohio State University, for contributing to this article.