Test manure now to estimate ammonia loss and anticipate need for side-dressing later

Photo: © Deere & Company

Two weeks of dry weather conditions across Ontario has helped move a lot of manure over fields across the province.

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs manure management specialist Christine Brown is reporting that custom operators have been running hard and most farmers were finishing up applications for crop land late last week. Many dairy producers are still waiting to finish that first forage cut before applying a significant amount of manure.

During a Tuesday morning virtual agribusiness breakfast meeting of provincial agronomists, extension specialists, and crop retail representatives, Brown noted that good field conditions have also provided a good opportunity for incorporation. She also emphasized the need for farmers to sample the manure before it’s applied and have it tested.

Brown is telling farmers to pay specific attention to the pH of their manure. She said the warm spring weather increases the potential for ammonia loss for high-pH manure. “When you start getting pH over 7.5 the loss in sunny, warm conditions is a lot higher than when the pH is lower.”

Brown said the pH level of the manure will not change management of the field or the manure, “but that may give an indication of need for some additional side-dress nitrogen.”

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