Liquid Manure Project Moves to Phase Two

ALBERTA, CANADA - A four-year pilot initiative aimed at increasing the amount of liquid dairy manure being injected or applied through surface-banding application technology was launched in the fall of 2008.
calendar icon 27 February 2009
clock icon 3 minute read
Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development

This joint project among Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Red Deer County, Leduc County, the County of Wetaskiwin, Alberta Milk, and Reduced Tillage Linkages (RTL), targets dairy producers, custom manure applicators, and other stakeholders in the three partner counties to increase the adoption of liquid manure injection or surface-banding application technology.

"The main reasons for moving from broadcast liquid manure application to injection or surface-banding are to reduce the amount of nitrogen lost from the manure being applied and to reduce the odour from liquid manure application," says Stephanie Kosinski, forage specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Stettler. "This initiative began surveying dairy producers and custom manure applicators in November 2008. The producer survey focused on general operation practices, as well as specific manure management techniques."

The first section of the survey included the collection of information on general operation characteristics, such as herd size, type of bedding used, type of seeder, frequency of soil and manure sampling, and the amount of solid and/or liquid manure produced. Based on preliminary results, dairy operations range in size from 30 to 440 cows (milking and dry), with the average size being 119.

The second section focused on how producers manage their solid manure. Questions included how long manure is stored and if it is composted, whether the producer applies the manure himself or hires a custom applicator, what type of equipment isused and application rates. Early analysis shows that nine per cent of operations with solid manure compost it before applying it to the soil and over 50 per cent apply solid manure themselves, instead of using a custom applicator.

The third section surveyed producers who manage liquid dairy manure. Questions dealt with topics such as how long the liquid manure is stored, how often it is collected from the barn, the type of storage facility used, if the producer applies the manure himself or hires a custom applicator, the method of application (broadcast or injection), the type of equipment used (trail-hose, shank injector, splash-plate), and application rates.

"Over 80 per cent of the dairy operations surveyed broadcast and incorporate their liquid manure, and over 90 per cent hire a custom applicator to apply it," says Kosinski. "The survey results are currently being analyzed and will be distributed to participating producers, municipalities, and partners once the final report is complete."

In order to increase knowledge and awareness about manure application techniques, four demonstration sites were established in the fall of 2008. The large-scale demonstration site has treatments with liquid manure application rates ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 gallons per acre. The manure at this site was applied by a local custom applicator using both injection equipment and high-volume broadcast discharge equipment.

The three small-scale demonstration sites highlight the use of injection equipment. Liquid manure was injected using an AerWay applicator, a trail hose applicator, a sleigh shoe applicator, and broadcast for comparison. Liquid manure application rates range from 2,000 up to 6,000 gallons.

"The three demonstration sites will be seeded by the producers in the spring of 2009 with the crops of their choice," says Kosinski. "The initiative is looking to establish field trials this spring as well. Dairy producers who have completed the survey and are interested in having a demonstration site on their farm, are asked to contact Robbin Nikiforuk at 780-352-3321 if in Leduc County or the County of Wetaskiwin, or contact Ken Lewis at 403-342-8653 if in Red Deer County."

Field days will be held at each of the demonstration sites to allow dairy producers to see the impact injecting manure can have on crop growth and production. Yield data will be collected from these sites for three years following the initial manure application.

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