Earlier Fall Manure Application Lowers Risk to Groundwater

by 5m Editor
12 October 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1619. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1619

Research underway in Saskatchewan indicates the earlier manure fertilizer can be injected in the fall, the lower the risk will be of nutrients ending up in the groundwater.

Landscape scale research being conducted by the University of Saskatchewan and Environment Canada at two Saskatchewan sites is looking at the fall application of hog manure and its impact on soil and surface water quality.

Dr. Jane Elliott, with Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute, says preliminary indications are that the later in the fall the application, the greater the risk of nutrients ending up in the groundwater.

"We initially set out only to look at injection of manure as that was thought to be a beneficial management practice, one of the best managements and that surface applications were frowned upon even at that point when we started this project in 1999.

As it turned out, we ended up looking at an emergency surface application in the winter time and found extremely high levels of nutrients coming off this application.

It was something we hadn't intended to look at but we did get verification that 'yes, surface applications in winter aren't a good thing.'

As far as injection applications, we've seen some elevated nutrients coming from injected manure in the fall during snow melt runoff.

For the most part nutrient levels are acceptable as long as reasonable management is undertaken. The one exception to that was where we had a very late fall application. The soil froze the day after the manure was applied.

That resulted in nutrient concentrations that were almost as high as the emergency surface application in the winter."

Dr. Elliott says, in years like this when half the crop is still not off, earlier applications are not practical but we have to consider that the later in the fall the application is, the riskier it is.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor