Alternative Manure Application Windows for Better Nutrient Utilization

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The Maumee River watershed contributes 3% of the water but more than 40% of the nutrients entering Lake Erie. Data from the Ohio Tributary Loading Program has identified increasing levels of dissolved reactive phosphorus as the prime suspect in the recurrence of harmful algal blooms within Lake Erie. Livestock manure represents approximately 25% of the phosphorus applied in the watershed and can be a source of dissolved reactive phosphorus.

One project is a three year research project on applying liquid swine manure as a spring top-dress nitrogen source for soft red winter wheat.  Field-scale randomized block design replicated plots were conducted on farms. Liquid swine manure was surface applied and incorporated on all plots using a Peecon toolbar and compared to urea (46-0-0) fertilizer surface applied with a fertilizer buggy for wheat yield. Manure applications were made using a standard 5,000 gallon manure tanker in early April after the wheat had broken dormancy and field conditions were deemed suitable. Manure was applied at rates to approximate the nitrogen amount in the urea treatments. There was no statistical yield difference between using livestock manure or purchased urea fertilizer as the top-dress nitrogen source.

Another research project started in 2011 compared fall and spring applied manure. The fall treatment included an application of manure just before planting of a wheat cover crop. The wheat was killed in the spring and followed with a corn crop. A direct injection manure application was made to the corn that had not received manure in the fall. The fall applied manure had an average yield of 109 bu/ac and the spring applied had an average yield of 205 bu/ac.

The potential to use liquid manure on growing crops opens a new window of opportunity to reduce phosphorus loading into Lake Erie.


To compare manure nutrient field application timing throughout the year and with commercial fertilizer in order to maximize crop yield and minimize nutrient loss.

What Did We Do?

Topdressed wheat in the spring with manure and urea. Corn applications include topdressing and sidedressing corn fields in the fall and spring.

What Have We Learned?

Wheat topdressed with manure has yielded equal to or greater than urea. Preliminary results show sidedressing applications made to corn in the spring yield better than fall applications.

No statistically significant yield difference was found between spring applied urea and manure to soft red winter wheat.

There was a statsitcally significant yield difference between both fall manure applications (manure and manure plus a nitrogen inhibitor) and the spring sidedressed manure.

Future Plans

Continue the wheat study and are adding cover crops to the corn study.


Amanda Douridas, Extension Educator, The Ohio State University Extension

Glen Arnold, Manure Nutrient Management Field Specialist, The Ohio State University Extension

Additional Information

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