On the latest edition of the HAT Soil Health Podcast, Eric Pfeiffer explores how to best use manure as part of a nutrient management and soil health strategy.
Gordon Smiley and his brother, Jeff, farm around 1200 acres of corn, soybeans, barley and operate a farrow-to-finish hog operation in Decatur County. They have been 100% no-till and have been using cover crops since 2011. Smiley says technology has helped with manure applications.
“With the GPS work that most of us are being able to use, we’re actually using a dragline. We have a meter in the tractor cab that’s monitoring the amount of gallons that are going on per acre. You’ve tested that manure and you know that amount. If you need, because of previous soil tests, you can speed up or slow down in areas that you need more application or less. Between the GPS and the monitoring equipment, we can be pretty darn precise with the manure in the liquid application form.”
Kristin Whittington is the owner and operator of Landmark Enterprises. It’s a full-service consulting firm for livestock producers, including Smiley Farms. She says the Smileys have seen success because they know they can go back over that established cover crop to apply manure.
“Even though they’re part of a no till system, that injection of manure still falls within minimal disturbance of the soil. That cover crop is there to help hold the soil in place, but the roots have started to establish to be able to take those nutrients from the manure immediately.”
Smiley said that he likes to try new things within his cropping system. Sometimes they make mistakes, not terribly expensive ones, but sometimes they also find breakthroughs.
“We double cropped some soybeans after barley and we’ve actually been able to apply manure into a standing soybean crop after it is 5-10 inches tall. We drive across there with a dragline into the standing soybeans, get an application there in the summer, utilize that manure very quickly and also really do minimal damage to that soybean crop. So, it just opens up the window with my dragline and possibly being able to apply that with the rolling applicator.”
We’ll be recording next month’s podcast with conservation experts from the Indiana Farm Equipment and Technology Expo, Dec. 11-13 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.