Applying Manure on Cover Crops

Winter is coming or is already here,  it’s time to clean up and haul manure out in the fields. We’ve had several wet falls making  harvest and spreading difficult and storage isn’t endless, we can’t wait until spring to spread.  Using cover crops to benefit your current management can work with manure.  Applying manure on cover crops provides a few benefits, not only to your nutrient management program but also improved trafficability.  Wet soils and heavy equipment don’t fare well, by having a living cover, it will utilize the moisture to grow and improve trafficability with it’s biomass and roots. 

What about nutrients?  Depending on the cover crop species and biomass out there, covers on average can take up 40-80lbs of nitrogen and hold on to it while crops aren’t being grown.  Incorporating manure has been the norm for reducing losses but applying on a living plant has been shown to effectively hold on to the nutrients. 

What about the cover crop stand with applying manure?  Broadcasting, knifing, and sweep type applications have been successful in getting the manure out there without leaving the cover crop at a point it can’t provide nutrient holding.  Applying manure on cover crops with a lesser disturbance manure injector also increases the amount of phosphorous captured due to the less damage of the covers. 

Planting the cover crops as early as possible will provide for the most biomass and retention of nutrients.

Aaron Pape UW-Discovery Farms Jul 25, 2019

Manure application with cover crops by Steve Berger and Dan Andersen

Check out the results of applying manure on cover crops versus no cover in the Minnesota Extension blog

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