Manure Management
Fertilizers and manure are often applied in the fall to help crops get off to a good start the following spring. There’s some new research, however, that indicates the practice may not be as productive as farmers think.
Published in Soil
Add just enough fertilizer, and crops thrive. Add too much, and you may end up with contaminated surface and groundwater.
Published in Soil
Recent rains result in increased risk for root rot, as well as black point or smudge in harvested wheat. Winter wheat yield reports are below average, but yield and quality are better than expected considering the heat and moisture stress endured throughout the season in Ontario, according to OMAFRA's latest crop report. 
Published in Diseases
For Dan Breen, soil is a living, active bio-system that needs protecting. It’s like the “skin” of the earth, he believes, and much like people cover their bare skin when going outside in the winter, fields too need covering to protect them from the elements.

The third generation Middlesex County dairy farmer, who farms with his wife, daughter and son-in-law near Putnam, has been named the 2018 Soil Champion by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). The award is handed out annually to recognize leaders in sustainable soil management.

Breen had just bought the 100-acre family farm from his parents in late 1989 when he faced a major decision: replace the operation’s worn-out tillage equipment or come up with a different strategy.

A chance encounter introduced him to an emerging new cropping system—and in spring 1990, Breen made his first attempt at no-till, planting 40 acres of corn with a used two-row planter he’d modified. He’s been gradually growing his farming business ever since, today farming 300 owned and 500 rented acres.

“I treat the rented acres like the ones I own and that’s crucial. It’s all about stewardship so whether you own or rent, you have the responsibility to do the best things you can,” he says. “Nature is in balance and we mess up that balance with excessive tillage, taking out too many nutrients, or not providing biodiversity, so we need to provide a stable environment as we go about our farming practices.”

His typical rotation involves corn, soybeans, wheat, and cover crops, which he started planting 12 years ago. About 100 acres are rotated through alfalfa and manure is spread between crops when favourable soil and weather conditions allow.

“The only acreage that doesn’t have year-round living and growing crop is grain corn ground. I try to keep everything green and growing all the time and never have bare ground,” he says, following the motto, keep it covered, keep it green, keep it growing.

According to Breen, no single activity will result in healthy soil and there’s no set recipe for farmers to follow due to the variability of soil type, topography and climate. Instead, it’s important to consider what crop is being grown, what it needs, and what the nutrient levels and biological activity of the soil are.

“A true no-till system is more than just not tilling, it is biodiversity, water retention, and nutrient cycling,” he says. “When I first started no-till, it was just to eliminate tillage, now it is to build a whole nutrient system—cover crops weren’t even on the radar when I started farming.”

One of the pillars of his soil success over the years has been a willingness to try new things—as long as they support the goal of building stronger, more stable soil—and adapting to what a growing season brings.

To other farmers considering a switch to no-till, Breen recommends perseverance to keep going when success looks doubtful, strength to resist naysayers, and starting the transition gradually, such as with no-till soybeans after corn, and then no-till wheat after soybeans.

“It’s a considerable honour and it’s humbling to win this award. It’s not something I was looking to achieve—I do what I do because I love it,” he says. “As a farmer, I’ve had an opportunity to be a caretaker of this land, but I only have tenure for a blip in history. I hope I leave it in better shape than when I found it—and I hope my daughter and son-in-law will do the same thing.”
Published in Soil
Western bean cutworm (WBC) continues to be a concern for pollinating corn in areas with high trap counts. Peak moth flight has occurred in counties in the southwest but counties in Central and Eastern Ontario have not reached peak yet. Moths will now be looking for late planted corn that is still in the early tasseling stages or will focus on edible beans. Focus scouting efforts in those corn fields that do not have dried silks yet. Edible bean growers need to scout for pod feeding once pods are present. Edible bean fields that are adjacent to corn fields that reached WBC eggmass threshold this year are likely also at risk. It is best to control fields as soon as pod feeding is observed. The larvae are exposed to the insecticide when they make holes in the pods to get to the seed. For additional information on WBC thresholds as well as optimal scouting and insecticide application timing, click here. Information on product choices is available in the OMAFRA Field Crop Protection Guide.

Post Wheat Harvest Manure Application
For livestock producers and those using organic amendments, the post wheat harvest season is an excellent opportunity to apply manure for nutrients and organic matter. Spreading workload, reduced compaction and reduced risk of environmental losses from runoff and erosion, as well as the opportunity to combine the benefits of feeding cover crops with manure, are all benefits of manure applied during the growing season.

Where manure or other organic amendments are applied to fields it is important to take a sample for analysis to help determine available nutrients and potential commercial fertilizer savings. Along with analysis for N, P and K in manure, additional tests will help determine nutrient availability. Testing for sulphur will provide an indication of elemental sulphur content which is released to a crop similar to organic nitrogen and can provide all or some of the sulphur needs, especially for wheat and forage crops. Testing for C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio for solid manure and amendments will help indicate if additional commercial N will be required for a corn crop. C:N ratios below 20:1 will have adequate nitrogen to help with the breakdown of carbon. Materials with C:N ratios over 30:1 (especially for spring applied materials) should determine with pre-side dress N test if addition N will be required. With liquid materials, testing the pH will help determine the potential for rapid ammonium N loss where manure is not injected or immediately incorporated. Liquid manure with high NH4-N levels combined with high pH (above 7.8) will lose the majority of the quickly available nitrogen in the first 24 hours, especially when combined with warm dry soils and/or high winds over bare soils.

Often there is too little credit given to the nitrogen supplied by fall-applied manure. A general guideline with fall applied manure is to credit half the total nitrogen from the analysis. Cattle manure with heavy bedding and/or amendments with high carbon to nitrogen (C:N) ratio will have lower (30 to 40 per cent) nitrogen credit while broiler poultry manure will have higher N credits (50 – 60 per cent). Mild winter conditions will increase available N from solid manure but can reduce nitrogen contribution from liquid manure where ammonium N (NH4-N) is higher. An early warm period in spring also increases nitrogen contribution from manure to a crop, while a cool wet spring will slow down nutrient release; not able to meet the N needs of a rapid growing corn crop during the period ahead of pollination. Slow release nitrogen from manure will contribute to yield after pollination, especially in areas where frequent and heavy rain may have resulted in denitrification or leaching of commercial N sources. Tissue tests of fields with evidence of some N deficiency on lower corn leaves reveal that levels are still within the normal range. Where manure or other amendments were applied there should be adequate nitrogen to meet remaining crop needs.
Published in Harvesting
If climate change continues to progress, increased precipitation could mean detrimental outcomes for water quality in the United States, a major new study warns.

An intensifying water cycle can substantially overload waterways with excess nitrogen runoff – which could near 20 per cent by 2100 – and increase the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality, according to a new study published by Science. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News
Local Liberal MP Francis Scarpaleggia and Jean-Claude Poissant, Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Agriculture, announced $2.9 million in funding at a press conference for two McGill projects aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions caused by water and fertilizer use in agriculture.
Published in Emerging Trends
There are both environmental and agronomic concerns surrounding the management of livestock manure. The major environmental concerns are: potential risk of nutrient accumulation in soil – particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) – and risk of nutrient movement into surface or groundwater. Poor manure management can also cause accumulation of salts in soil, surface water or groundwater and pathogenic micro-organisms in surface water.
Published in Fertilizer
Dec. 17, 2013, Ontario – There are limited options for applying and incorporating manure before frost and/or snow during a wet fall, as was experienced in 2013. In these situations, a producer may need to go to Plan B, or the contingency strategies for the farm’s manure management plan, writes Christine Brown on FieldCropNews.com. | READ MORE
Published in Corporate News

March 15, 2013 – Research on applying liquid livestock manure as a spring top-dress fertilizer to wheat has been ongoing in Ohio for several years. There is usually a window of time, typically around the last week of March or first week of April, when wheat fields are growing and firm enough to support manure application equipment.

The key to applying the correct amount of manure to fertilize wheat is to know the manure’s nitrogen content. Most manure tests reveal total nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen and organic nitrogen amounts. The ammonia nitrogen portion is readily available for plant growth. The organic nitrogen portion takes considerably longer to mineralize and generally will not be available when wheat uptakes the majority of its nitrogen in the months of April and May.

Some manure tests also list a “first year availability” nitrogen amount. This number is basically the ammonia nitrogen portion of the manure plus about half the organic nitrogen portion. Again, for the purpose of fertilizing wheat, the organic portion of the nitrogen should not be considered available in time to impact yields.

Most deep-pit swine finishing manure will contain between 35 and 45 pounds of ammonia nitrogen per 1,000 gallons. Finishing buildings with bowl waters and other water conservation systems can result in nitrogen amounts towards the upper end of this range. Finishing buildings with fixed nipple waters and surface water occasionally entering the pit can result in nitrogen amounts towards the lower end of this range.

To capture the most nutrients from manure farmers should consider incorporation. Incorporation can result in less nitrogen loss and can especially reduce the loss of dissolved reactive phosphorus.

Three years of on-farm wheat top-dress results are summarized in Table 1. Each field trial was replicated four times. In each plot, the manure ammonia nitrogen application rate was similar to the nitrogen amount in the urea fertilizer – typically about 100 pounds per acre. The manure was applied using a 4,800-gallon tanker with a Peecon toolbar 13.5 feet in width. This toolbar cuts the soil surface with a straight coulter and a boot applies the manure over the soil opening. Urea was applied using a standard fertilizer applicator.

Table 1. On-farm Swine Fishing Manure Topdressing of Wheat Results (bu/ac)

Year

Swine manure (surface applied)*

Swine manure (incorporated)

Urea

Date of nutrient application

2009

127.5

125.4

128.2

April 7th

2008

63.1

61.4

62.9

April 3rd

2007

102.2

98.0

96.5

March 28th

*Incorporation was performed with a modified Peecan toolbar attached to a 4,800-gallon tanker

In addition to the Peecon toolbar, OSU Extension as also conducted manure research on wheat using the both the Veenhuizen toolbar and Aerway toolbar. All toolbars cutting through the soil cause some disruption to the growing wheat but side-by-side yield comparisons with convention surface applied fertilizer have rarely shown any difference in yields.

Some Ohio commercial dragline operators are routinely applying livestock manure to wheat each spring. This practice is gaining acceptance as it’s faster and more efficient than manure application with a tanker. The risk of soil compaction is also reduced.

Dairy manure has been utilized with on-farm research plots when topdressing wheat. Dairy manure contains far less ammonia nitrogen per 1,000 gallons than swine finishing manure and does not consistently produce wheat yields similar to commercial fertilizer. Research on dairy manure as a top-dress to wheat is ongoing and adding 28 percent UAN to the dairy manure to increase its fertilizer value has produced wheat yields similar to commercial nitrogen.

When applying livestock manure to wheat it’s recommended to follow the NRCS #633 Waste Utilization Standard to minimize potential environmental impacts.

Additional on-farm manure top-dress of wheat plot results can be obtained by clicking on the on-farm research link on the OSU Extension Agronomics Crops team website.

Oct. 29, 2012, Mississauga, ON - The producers of the Canadian International Farm Show are pleased to announce that, for the fourth year, they will be presenting a deserving student the ‘Youth in Agriculture’ educational bursary.
 
Since the event was taken over by Master Promotions Ltd. 5 years ago, we have annually given back to the Agriculture Community by presenting this bursary to a deserving student who is pursuing an agricultural based career, thus supporting the development of the next generation of agricultural leaders.
 
In 2013, we will present a $1,000.00 bursary to a qualified recipient. The selection committee will once again consist of and be managed by the Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario.
 
We would once again like to congratulate our 2012 recipient, Ashleigh Landman from Grand Valley, Ontario. Ashleigh attends the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus, working towards her associate diploma in Agriculture. Her goals post graduation include taking over the family goat farm, which includes 150 milking does. Ashleigh plans on expanding and has future aspirations of an on-site dairy.
 
We wish her luck in all her future endeavours.
 
Master Promotions Ltd. would like to thank the Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario for their assistance in administering and organizing a selection committee to determine the winners of these awards.

Also, we encourage members of the Agricultural community to nominate a deserving producer or agribusiness for our annual Producer of the Year Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize excellence in farm operations or any sort of Agribusiness. Individuals are encouraged to make nominations by completing the nomination form on our website before December 3rd, 2012.

Nominees must reside in the province of Ontario to be considered for this prestigious award. The awards will be presented at the Industry Reception on February 05, 2013 as part of the CIFS festivities.

Nomination forms are available on our website.

The 2013 Canadian International Farm Show will take place February 5-7, 2013 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
 
For complete details and a bursary application, please visit www.canadianfarmshow.ca

Published in Corporate News

Nov. 18, 2011 -In this second story from DTN/the Progressive Farmer, it is Brazil's fertilizer outlook that is being examined, including a claim by the country's president, that the nation will become a fertilizer exporter within the next five years; an unreasonable goal at first glance, considering 60 percent of the country's current fertilzer requirements are imported. READ MORE

Published in Fertilizer

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