June 23, 2009
Contacts: Eric Young, Miner Institute, 518-846-7121; Quirine Ketterings, Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program, 607-255-3061

Manure Application Practices Under Evaluation at Miner Institute

Chazy, NY – Making the most of manure is the ongoing focus of research by the Cornell University Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP). With funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and New York Farm Viability Institute, field trials for evaluating various manure application practices are underway at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy in New York’s Northeastern corner.

“The goal of this research is to determine the impact of different manure application methods on nitrogen conservation, residue management, and corn crop yield,” says Cornell graduate student Anne Place, who is working with NMSP.

Agronomist Eric Young, who recently joined the staff at Miner Institute, says, “Results from this research will help farmers in Northern New York determine manure incorporation practices that can maximize nitrogen utilization with minimal soil disturbance.”

Researchers are evaluating surface application of manure without incorporation into the soil, shallow incorporation of manure with an aeration tool, and chisel incorporation, and a farmer selected incorporation tool at 10 farms throughout New York.

“Most farms, including the Miner Institute, selected the chisel plow as the third treatment,” says NMSP leader Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings (lead investigator on the project).

Place collects soil samples before and after manure applications, at planting time, at sidedress time and when the corn is harvested. The samples are tested for nitrate levels, nutrient content, moisture and soil nitrogen supply potential using the Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT).

The research also includes data on soil compaction, residue coverage, late season stalk nitrate levels, and corn crop yield and quality.

Place says, “Our first year results in Northern New York were impacted by rainy weather causing saturated soil most of the spring and generally poor stands of corn at the trial field at Miner Institute. Although the ISNT soil nitrogen test indicated the soil nitrogen supply potential was high, the soggy soil conditions caused root development problems and low nitrogen availability and nitrogen uptake. The PSNT soil nitrogen test and late season stalk nitrate results were consistent with field observations.”

In addition, a late summer storm that damaged the corn crop at the Miner Institute resulted in low crop yield data. Ketterings says, “What we have learned so far from the Miner Institute trial is that adding nitrogen will not overcome poor growing conditions, such as early season wetness. We expect this second year of trials will provide a new opportunity to evaluate manure application methods under different weather and field conditions.”

The Miner Institute is one of 10 dairy farm trial sites located across New York state and has worked with Cornell’s Nutrient Management Spear Program since 2000. For more information on Northern New York agriculture, go online to www.nnyagdev.org. # # #