Dry ground brings advantages and concerns about manure spreading

AMES — The weather this year has benefited livestock producers by preventing overflows caused by rainfall that fills up manure storage areas, but Iowa State University expert on manure management Dan Anderson says dry weather also has its issues.

“It tends to be a little bit easier, but it also tends to make our nutrient management a little worse,” Anderson says.  

He says farmer can get anxious and want to spread manure too early. “Even though we planted late, I still anticipate that corn and soybeans will start coming out early, and as soon as it starts coming up people are fired up about going and getting manure into the field,” Andersen says. “And and we really do want to wait until soils are 50 and cooling from a nutrient nitrogen utilization perspective.”

Once the crops out  of the fields, he says the dry ground gives farmers less concern that manure would run off of rain saturated ground. “It also causes us maybe to be not as conservation minded about when we’re getting it on,” he says, “because it’s hard to find labor and starting early lets  you make sure you get done.” 

Anderson is associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering  at ISU, and the creator of the “Talkin’ Crap” podcast that discusses all aspects of manure management. You can find his podcast and other information on how to manage manure in wet and dry weather on the ISU Extension website.