Sidedressing pre-emergent corn in the spring with swine manure produces yields comparable to applying commercial fertilizer, says Ohio State University (OSU) Extension research.

Following several years of research that showed applying swine manure to post-emergent corn produced comparable or higher yields than commercial nitrogen, OSU Extension educators in Putnam and Hancock counties hoped to find the same results in treating pre-emergent corn.

“We want to find out if a farmer could plant corn and then use a dragline manure application system to side dress before the corn even comes up out of the ground,” says Glen Arnold, an OSU Extension educator in Putnam County.

“In 2007, we completed research on three pre-emergence corn plots using liquid swine manure as the primary nitrogen source. Two of three plots yielded the same or higher compared to urea,” he adds.

Arnold says his goal is to show farmers that manure application, mostly practiced in the fall, can be just as valuable in the spring, and it can save farmers money as well.

“At today’s fertilizer prices, using manure from livestock could easily save farmers $75 to $100/acre in purchased fertilizer,” declares Arnold.

Spring manure application can also benefit the environment. “There is less chance for nutrient loss in the spring as opposed to the fall, because the manure is actually going to a growing crop that will utilize its nutrients,” he explains. “We’ve always known that manure provides good nutrients for the soil. The idea is to find a way to make better use of it than applying it to bare fields in the fall.”

Arnold stresses farmers could potentially be losing a valuable resource by not considering a spring or early summer manure application to growing crops.

For example, in Putnam County, OH, farmers fully utilizing the ammonia nitrogen in their liquid swine manure could save over $500,000 in lieu of purchasing commercial fertilizer, he estimates. Putnam County is the fourth-largest swine-producing county in Ohio.

Arnold, who started this research work in 2004, will continue his efforts, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Ohio Pork Producers Council.

Arnold will present his findings at the Great Lakes Manure Handling Expo on July 9 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, OH. To learn more, log onto http://ohio-environmental.org or contact Tami Combs at (614) 292-6625 or combs.155@osu.edu or Jon Rausch at (614) 292-4504 or Mary Wicks at (330) 202-3533.

Other Expo talks cover calculating the value of manure nutrients, learning the benefits of proper equipment calibration, thoughts on keeping adequate records and practicing safety in manure application and storage.

Educational demonstrations are also scheduled on a variety of manure application practices.