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CircleJAcres
Contributor

Which is better for soil???

Looking for thoughts on whether I should "burn down" and kill my barley cover crop after I spread manure or work it all under. 

Any thoughts

 

Thanks 

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9 Replies
Pat in CMO
Contributor

Re: Which is better for soil???

 Personally I would use a burndown and no-till into the residue. Have been no-tilling for several years and yeilds are as good or better than the neibors who practice what I call recreational tillage. Cutting the tillage lowers my costs and allows timlier planting with less manpower.  Patrick

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Ed_Winkle
Contributor

The worst thing we can do is plow

But it is easier to manage.  Turning it under allows for too much change for erosion, possibly huge erosion.  Tillage is at least 10 tons per acre losss of your very best soil particles.  NoTill is still at least one ton loss until we get to cover crops then we can get the loss down near zero.  I assume this would be using the barley as a cover crop to raise a more valuable crop.  I am surprised you would ask as most farmers are dead set notill or dead set work in the manure in.  I assumed you woud spray it, spread it and notill it.

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Pupdaddy
Advisor

Re: The worst thing we can do is plow

..Now Ed..I'm not going to disagree with you..but you can't quite generalize that much. The "worst" thing a person could do..is ignore the circumstances they're presented with when making a production decision. Sure, I like the benefits of no-till..but if a guy was forced to spread manure when it was a bit wet...or if the manure was frozen into big chunks when it came out of the spreader, then there are extenuating circumstances to take into account. I've got some ground in a riverbottom..that I can't no-till, even with a cover crop...because every time the river floods..it washes the residue down into the fence rows. I can see where tillage might benefit the original poster...but it's circumstances that make the decision...not the ideals you're trying to achieve.

 

I would take in to account all the extenuating circumstances...and then if I possibly could...I'd no-till it. If there are ruts from the spreader...maybe a straight leg ripper would be in order. If the manure is laying in piles that you don't figure you can plant through..then by all means...do some tillage. Keep your situation in mind....it's the way farming has been forever, you have to be flexible.

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CircleJAcres
Contributor

Re: Which is better for soil???

Thanks for the advice.  I ask because a LOT of people around me still do a lot of chisel plowing and discing.  I thought the soil would reap more benefit from the manure, if it was worked in instead of lying on top.  Am I wrong?

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Pupdaddy
Advisor

Re: Which is better for soil???

Short term..you may be right. Tilling the manure in will cause it to decompose and mineralize the nutrients in it sooner. But at the same time..you're mineralizing all the rest of the organic matter at a quicker rate too. Every time you apply a tillage tool to a field you introduce oxygen and release carbon dioxide. The carbon in the carbon dioxide is your organic matter. No-tilling is all about the long term..and slow release of minerals...and building up a bank of these minerals that will slowly release as much as tillage will release on a yearly basis. Earthworms will eventually pull all the organic matter from your manure into the soil...and process it into "castings" that make it more available to the crop. It's all about how patient you are.

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James22
Frequent Contributor

Re: Which is better for soil???

Pretty much agree with pupdaddy, but also believe it depends on the amount of residue.  It is well proven you will oxidize some carbon when tilling, but if plowing under 6 ft sweet clover or six inches of manure I'd wager there would be a net gain and no-tilling in that stuff wouldn't be in my "playbook".  No data just opinion.  If you are going to "beat" the ground after plowing with numerous tillage passes after plowing, forget any gain.  I'd go for a single and certainly not more than two passes.  Still doesn't solve the potential erosion concern, just need to "pray" for gentle rain events.

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rfnwo
Friend

Re: Which is better for soil???

Here in NWO they are having problems with phosphorus running off the surface into Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Mary's which is causeing a toxic algae to grow. It is my understanding that some of that may be attributed to no-till and manure application. It all depends on your area and what type of soil you have. We have ground that has a lot of heavy tough ground just north and west of here that plowing is the norm to get any yield. Talk to you extension agent and observe what the neighbors are doing and go from there.

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Which is better for soil???

I would work the manure into the ground.  In my heavy clay I would chisel it if done in the fall and field cultivate it in the spring.  Or just field cultivate it if spring spread as chiseling in the spring would leave big clods in my heavy clay.  I've tried no tilling thru manure after laying all winter and it was a disaster.  Where the larger chunks of manure laid it wouldn't dry out.  But all ground is different. Maybe you can get away with planting into wetter ground.  I can't.  The no till openers slice thru the ground like it's cheese and the seed furrow doesn't close up.   But, again, this is heavy clay.  In light ground it might work.

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: Which is better for soil???

  rf  would you talking about that Paulding county gumbo?

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