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Consider Liquid Manure For Fertilizing No-Till Fields

Used properly, incorporated liquid manure provides no-tillers another option for meeting crop fertilization needs in the face of ever-increasing nitrogen costs.

Nitrogen costs keep rising, forcing no-tillers to examine fertilization program options and their impact on crops and the bottom line. For some no-tillers, liquid livestock manure might be an option — if they can overcome concerns about odors or the feasibility of incorporation.

Ernest Oelker and Gary Graham, two Ohio State University extension agents, believe liquid manure can be a valuable asset to no-tillers. They conducted a 3-year study on the subject on the farm of no-tiller Myron Wehr in Columbiana County in northeastern Ohio.

Oelker now says, “I think we have proven that equipment is available today to effectively incorporate manure and still maintain the no-till system. What I did not know is how much advantage we had with nutrient utilization or with injection vs. surface application.”

The research evaluated the use of liquid manure nitrogen containing about 8 percent solids on no-till corn. Oelker and Graham compared spring surface-applied, spring incorporated, fall surface-applied, fall incorporated, liquid nitrogen and liquid nitrogen with Guardian, a nitrogen stabilzer. There were eight replications for each application.

The research provides the following tips for no-tillers using, or considering using, liquid manure.

Nitrogen Types

Wehr’s standard fertilizer program includes 5 gallons per acre of 9-18-9 of liquid starter plus about 120 pounds per acre of actual nitrogen as either 32 percent or 28 percent liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen was sometimes applied with a nitrogen stabilizer.

With the liquid manure, “We applied 11,800 gallons of manure per acre to theoretically apply 147 pounds of…

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