Dairy Channel: Manure application: Look at tile lines

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario annual winter conference in London, Ontario.

I was the guest of the Ontario group, along with Myron Wehr of New Waterford and Randy Campbell of Homeworth in appreciation for hosting stops on the Innovative Farmers’ summer bus tour in August 2004.

More than 300 outstanding farmers and crop advisers enjoyed one of the most interesting and informative conferences I have ever had the privilege to attend.

Registration and lodging for us (and spouses) was completely covered by the association and their corporate sponsors, including all the big players such as Cargill, Bayer Crop Science, Gustafson, John Deere, Pioneer, Monsanto and Syngenta.

Highlights. One of the highlights of the three-day event was an evening dinner. Guests and conference speakers were chauffeured to downtown London for dinner and fellowship at the Wellington Beef Company.

It was a great dinner and chance to get acquainted with association directors and corporate sponsor representatives.

The opening address Tuesday was a presentation by Jim Ladlie of ProfitPro LLC., St. Paul, Minn.

He spoke on vertical tillage, building soil productivity and yield expectations.

Ladlie told the assembly the soil is the stomach of the plant and that planning for 225-bushel corn and 70-bushel beans will result in more precise control of soil fertility, plant root systems and plant stands, leading to the achievement of such yields.

Skeptical. I was skeptical of this kind of yield aspirations until I talked with one of our hosts, Jim and Lorraine Haus of Port Anthony, Ontario (north of Cleveland close to the Lake Erie shore).

Jim grows corn and soybeans together in his fields to take greatest advantage of available sunlight, rotating the two crops to break the disease and insect cycles.

A combination of 7- and 21-inch row spacing in corn are alternated with 15 feet of soybeans in 15-inch rows.

All traffic in the fields is controlled so that compaction is limited to the same wheel tracks in both corn and beans.

Proof. Does this system work? How would you like 280 bushels per acre average over more than 500 acres of corn?

Results in 2003 have been their best so far, but several years have averaged more than 225 bushels per acre.

Soybean yields have been equally impressive.

Manure regs. One of the most interesting programs I attended at the conference concerned manure applications on tiled land.

Ontario research and field experience have shown that liquid manure applications on no-till soils sometimes result in rapid appearance of manure in tile drains (Ohio has seen the same thing on a very limited basis).

The manure travels through undisturbed worm channels directly to the tile lines.

Tillage or manure incorporation is known to disturb these worm channels enough to disrupt this manure flow to tiles.

In Ohio. In Ohio the problem has so far only appeared with manure of very low solids content such as manure from aerobic lagoons.

Based on these research results, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture officials will be writing regulations controlling manure applications on tiled land.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture officials asked producers for input on possible regulations.

Regulations could range from a total ban of manure applications on tiled land to some sort of requirement for incorporation, pre-or post-application tillage, or leaving non-manured strips over tile lines.

There could also be requirements for monitoring of drains during manure applications.

(The author is an agricultural extension agent in Columbiana County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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