November 5, 2009
Contacts: see list at end of release

Four NNY Farms in Statewide Manure Nitrogen Research Project

Dairy farmers Dan Chambers of Heuvelton, NY; David Fisher of Madrid, NY; and Darren McIntyre of Lowville, NY; and Crop Manager Jake Ashline at the W.H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY, are four of 10 farmers participating in a statewide, two-year research project evaluating ways to use manure, conserve soil, and reduce fertilizer costs. The results of the first year of trials on the farms are now posted in the Agricultural Environmental Management section of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org.

The research, funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and the NY Farm Viability Institute, is evaluating the application of manure to farm fields in the spring without incorporating it into the soil (surface application) vs. using an aeration tool for shallow incorporation or incorporating with a chisel plow.

The research team, led by Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings, director of Cornell University’s Nutrient Management Spear Program, and coordinated by soil science graduate student Anne Place is also evaluating the impact of the three manure application methods on corn crop yield and quality, nitrogen availability, and fuel costs.

NNYADP Co-Chair and dairyman Jon Greenwood of Canton, NY, says, “Research conducted under Northern New York growing conditions on how to best use on-farm and purchased nutrients provides farmers with valuable data that can producer higher-yield crops and save or make money for the farm while also protecting the farm’s natural resources.”

Chambers: On-Farm Trials Show Yield, Economic Value
Chambers manages 680 milking cows and 650 heifers at his Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County, dairy farm. He says, “Participating in on-farm trials lets me know if I can justify different practices by yield or economics.”

The aeration tool that mixes manure with the top layer of soil causes less soil disturbance compared to the chisel plow that overturns the soil. Previous Cornell research has shown that shallow incorporation of manure with an aerator is just as effective at capturing nitrogen with less soil disturbance and greater residue conservation compared to incorporating manure with a chisel plow.

In 2008, the Chambers’ farm trial showed a two-ton gain in yield by incorporating the manure into the soil compared to surface application only. The incorporated yield gain was the same with the aerator and with the chisel plow.

McIntyre: Nutrient Gain Saves Fertilizer Cost
McIntyre manages 160 milking cows and 150 heifers, at Wyndamar Farm in Lowville, NY, in Lewis County. He is interested in using reduced tillage practices to conserve soil value. Incorporating manure at his farm in 2008 produced 35-45 bushels/acre more corn than surface application, with similar gains realized by using both the chisel plow and the less aggressive aerator.

McIntyre notes that the nutrient gain from incorporating manure in the spring means he can plant corn without the expense of adding starter fertilizer.

Fisher: Improving Soil Health, Reducing Erosion and Fuel Costs
Fisher milks 1900 cows and grows corn on soils that range from clay to sand at Mapleview Dairy in Madrid in St. Lawrence County. He says, “Whatever can help me be competitive, grow the best crops, improve or learn how to do the best for the cows is exciting.”

Fisher has shifted toward less-frequent cultivation of his fields to improve soil health, reduce erosion, and reduce fuel costs. In contrast to the results at the McIntyre and Chambers farms, the 2008 trial at Fisher’s farm showed no difference in crop yield between fields where manure was surface applied or incorporated by chisel or aerator. The researchers had to look to soil and plant nitrogen tests for the explanation.

Ketterings says, “The Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) indicated there was already enough N from soil organic matter for the corn before the manure was applied. The Pre-sidedress Nitrate Test (PSNT) and the Late Season Corn Stalk Nitrate Test (CSNT) confirmed the extra N conserved with incorporation of the manure was needed for optimum yields. At the farms where loss of nitrogen from the surface application resulted in an N deficiency, we did see that incorporating the manure was beneficial and the aerator did as a good a job of conserving nitrogen as the chisel plow.”

Miner Institute: Aerator Worked Well, Requires Less Horsepower
For Crop Manager Jake Ashline, the 2008 manure management trial results at the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute in Chazy, NY (Clinton County) were skewed by early rain-saturated soil conditions stunting crop growth. The research continues in 2009. Ketterings says, “The first-year results affected by weather conditions are evidence of why research trials require multiple years.”

Still, benefits of the 2008 trials were noted. Ashline says the aerator mixed topsoil well without plowing the soil as deeply as a chisel or moldboard plow.

The producers all say the aeration tool requires less horsepower to pull, reducing fuel costs. In 2009, Fisher applied 60 percent of his farm’s manure using an aerator.

Learn More Resources & Funders
Peter Barney of Barney Agronomic Services; Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) field crops educators Stephen Canner, Joe Lawrence and Michael E. Hunter; and Miner Institute agronomist Eric Young are assisting the NNY research trials. Learn more about manure and nutrient management research by contacting your local CCE office, the Nutrient Management Spear Program (nmsp.css.cornell.edu) or Miner Institute, and online at www.nnyagdev.org.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a farmer-driven initiative to ensure the long term economic vitality of Northern NY’s agricultural production sector and agriculture’s important contributions to the protection and enhancement of the region’s environment and rich natural resource base and to communities in New York State’s six northernmost counties.

The Program co-chaired by Greenwood and Joe Giroux of Plattsburgh, awards grants for practical on-farm research, outreach and technical assistance and is supported by funds from the New York State Legislature through the long term support of the North Country’s State Senators, and with the support of NYS Assemblypersons from the region and other areas of the state.

The program receives support (funds, time, land, expertise, etc.) from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, six Northern New York Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations, W. H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, cooperating farms, agribusinesses across the region, and others.

The New York Farm Viability Institute is a farmer-led nonprofit group that awards grants for applied research and outreach education to help farms increase profits and provide models for farmers statewide. Learn more at www.nyfvi.org.
# # #

ISNT/CSNT Project Leader:
Quirine M. Ketterings, Cornell University, 607-255-3061, qmk2@cornell.edu

Field Crop Educators for Northern NY:
• CCE Clinton County: Peter H. Hagar, 518-561-7450
• WH Miner Institute, Chazy: Eric Young, 518-846-7121 x113
• CCE Essex County: Anita L. Deming, 518-962-4810
• CCE Franklin County: Carl A. Tillinghast, Stephen Canner, 518-483-7403
• CCE Jefferson County: Michael E. Hunter, 315-788-8450
• CCE Lewis County: Joseph R. Lawrence, 315-376-5270
• CCE St. Lawrence County: Stephen R. Canner, 315-379-9192

Northern New York Agricultural Development Program: www.nnyagdev.org
Co-Chairs: Jon Greenwood: 315-386-3231 and Joe Giroux: 518-563-7523

New York Farm Viability Institute: www.nyfvi.org