Researchers at the University of Minnesota are looking at new ways to use hog manure for fertilizer. In a recent podcast, University of Minnesota Extension specialist Melissa Wilson talks about one of her research initiatives to compare the use of liquid hog manure in sidedressing applications. “One of the big things I like to focus on is trying to find, like I said, the best ways for farmers to use manure as a resource,” Wilson says. “Our seasons to apply manure seem to be getting shorter.”
This past fall was a case in point—Minnesota was really wet in the southern part of the state, preventing many farmers from applying manure in the fall. So how can we extend this application window? “One of the ways that we've thought about that we've seen others doing this, in Ohio especially, is using the manure as a sidedress nutrient source,” Wilson says. This could help farmers have another opportunity to move that resource if they were busy in the spring with fieldwork, were prevented from getting applications done in the fall because of weather, etc.
The First Year of Research
“We wanted to test different nitrogen sources for sidedress. So we compared liquid finishing manure to anhydrous ammonia and urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) and then we also had strips where we had no sidedress nitrogen—and let me tell you those are very yellow,” she says. Researchers worked with a local farmer to do replicated strip tests of each fertilizer treatment and no-treatment. The manure treatment was done by a dragline. “And yes, I know a lot people think we're crazy taking a dragline into standing corn. But if you get in before the growing point comes above the soil than the corn will fold over, but it actually pops right back up,” she says. Wilson says harvest data is just starting to roll in, but observations through the growing season showed a few challenges—an obvious line where the dragline had to turn in the field, as well as some striping likely caused by one of the lines being clogged. “Those are some things that we can see from the air and we're a little bit concerned about,” she says, “but all of the nitrogen treatments yielded very similar.” All of the treatments posted yields of more than 200-bu. per acre, regardless of the striping observed in the field. Wilson says the study will continue for another crop year. Click here to listen to Wilson’s plans for monitoring the nutrient levels in the current field, which will be planted to soybeans, and how they plan to address the striping effect for the next application on corn. Listen to the podcast at z.umn.edu/PodcastEpisode8 or through your podcast app by searching UMN Extension Swine.