Dairy Manure - Boosting Corn and Soybean Growth

Apr 22, 2024

By Farms.com

In modern agriculture, farmers and agricultural experts are increasingly embracing the practice of applying dairy manure to fields immediately after planting corn and soybeans, citing numerous advantages over traditional pre-plant application methods.

A significant benefit is the avoidance of potential planting delays due to excess moisture from liquid manure. This is particularly crucial during the spring season when inclement weather can already pose challenges to timely planting. Moreover, the moisture supplied by liquid manure can positively influence crop germination and emergence, especially under dry conditions.

Timing is paramount in this practice, with dairy manure being applied as soon as the field is planted, providing crucial protection to seeds with at least an inch of soil cover. Extensive research conducted at various universities has demonstrated that the application of 10,000 gallons per acre of dairy manure has no adverse effects on crop germination and emergence in both corn and soybeans.

However, it's essential to recognize that while corn can tolerate manure application through the V3 growth stage, newly emerging soybeans are sensitive to liquid manure and can be harmed by its application.

The nitrogen content in dairy manure offers a valuable boost to emerging crops, though the availability of the ammonium nitrogen component can vary. While organic nitrogen serves as a slow-release source over several years, there is a risk of ammonium nitrogen loss through volatilization and leaching. University trials have revealed that only about half of the applied ammonium nitrogen from surface-applied dairy manure may be accessible for crop growth.

When employing a drag hose applicator, it's crucial to apply the manure at an angle across the field to ensure even distribution. Additionally, the field must be sufficiently firm to support the drag hose, preventing soil scouring and damage to young plants or seeds. Fields subjected to spring tillage may not be suitable for drag hose application, whereas no-till fields, those with cover crops, or fields compacted by heavy spring rain are generally more conducive.

The strategic application of dairy manure to newly planted corn and soybeans holds the potential to significantly enhance crop growth and overall farm productivity when executed with proper timing and techniques.

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