As the region heads into planting season, it’s important that producers have a manure management plan set in place, while also taking into account proper manure application to their fields.

Producers should have a plan that works best for their operation and their needs.

“Every operation is very different, even when it comes to having almost identical hog barns, even if you feed animals slightly different feed, then you’re going to have different manure potentially” said Melissa Wilson, University of Minnesota Extension specialist and assistant professor.

Manure can often act as liquid gold when it is applied to the soil, as it stores many nutrients that benefit the land it is applied to. However, it is important for producers to be aware of how much manure they are applying to a specific location or field.

“Manure acts as a nutrient source that we can use for our crops, so it’s always really important to think about where you’re going to apply it, so that we apply enough to get what the crop needs. But with nutrients you also have to worry about overapplication too, trying to make that balance where you can apply enough, but not apply too much, which is really important,” Wilson said.

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Wilson advises that producers not only get their soil tested, to see what nutrients it may be lacking, but to also send manure samples off to get tested too. This gives producers an idea of what their soil may be in need of, or even show it is packed with the correct nutrients. Manure testing allows farmers to know what nutrients reside in their manure, making it easier to decide where to apply it.

When it comes to actually applying the manure, it is important to make sure that the equipment that will be used is prepared and running properly, especially when applying liquid manure.

“When you’re applying manure under pressure in liquid systems, there can be big consequences if there is a leak, Wilson said. “It can get out of control pretty quickly.”

Wilson recommends keeping an especially good eye on hoses and pumps on liquid systems. As for solid systems, make sure they are well greased and ready to go before beginning the application process.

“When it’s go time, you want to be able to go and apply manure, not be stuck working on your equipment,” Wilson said.

Though many parts of the region are experiencing drought, Wilson advises against applying manure on overly wet fields.

“Waiting for the driest ground possible helps preserve nutrients, but it also helps reduce compaction when you’re applying those materials as well,” Wilson said. “Just be cautious. Make sure if you’re in a tile drainage area that you’re not near any tile intakes.”