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Veteran Advisor

Fertilizer loss?

Anecdotal reports indicate high levels of fertilizer application this fall. But, with recent Midwest rains and decent December temperatures, talk is swirling about leaching fertilizer. Is this talk grounded in reality? Or, should there be no worry about the fertilizer you put in the ground this fall? If it's leaching, that's some very expensive fertilizer getting lost isn't it?

 

Thanks for your input,

 

Mike

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14 Replies
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Senior Contributor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

It all depends on soil temp. For AA as long a the temp stays below 50 degrees it will be alright. Urea is a lot more touchy.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

You guys just don't know how lucky you have it, in crop production fertilization.  We have no more than 30 days before a growing crop as our only window of application for manure. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

Not to start an argument with you Kay but wouldn't you say that small window of application is offset by alot lower fertilizer costs?. I have neighbor/customer friends who I get some hog manure from time to time and I do feel for them when weather doesn't cooperate to apply but the cost savings make up for alot of sorrow...MikeM

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Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

I wasn'treally speaking from a cost issue perspective, more from a nutrient one.  We are constantly bombarded with rules governing our manure management, and crop practices have no ismilar restrictions. 

 

We cannot apply on frozen or wet ground, and are not allowed to put on one ounce per acre more of nuytrient than the agronomic rate,. based upon realistic yield expectations.  Then, when all is said and done, we get inspected and our records can be subjected to fine tooth comb test. 

 

I think most of you woudl mutiny if you had to do one-tenth of this stuff...and nutrient is nutrient.  We have so many restrictions, and you basically have none.  It is all about creating a distinction without a difference. 

 

Sorry, rough week!

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Senior Contributor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

Well, I hope your week gets better. I won't argue the facts you just posted. All the regs that go with manure management would drive anyone up a wall. Without opening up another can of worms here, don't you think that it is those complicated regulations that keeps this industry from being run by just anyone. People like yourselves who seem to want to and have to follow the rules. You would be the kind of neighbor nonlivestock folks can live around as are the livestock neighbors we live by now. They follow the rules and that keeps good neighbors. I raised alot of hogs the hard way years back and there came a time to go total confinement or just get out. I got out..didn't want to live by all those rules...MikeM

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Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

Thanks for your understanding. 

 

We have had one weekend we could have taken a trip in seventeen years, without any pigs on the place to worry about...and had to spend it here, getting the binder of every last dotted I and crossed T ready for our annual inspection last Monday.  I think that is bothering me more than I realized. 

 

You are right...all these rules run many out.  I hope it never comes to this for you folks in crop ag.  It woudl just be nice not to have to dedicate so many days, hours and years of our lives to keeping records...I HATE paperwork!

 

Yes, we try to be excellent neighbors.  On a good day, that is a good enough motive to manage well.  On a bad day - maybe like today - all those tons of documents are our best defense if we ever had a problem...to show we had been deemed fit to operate by this nit-picky state. 

 

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

I have raised hogs, and continue to raise cattle, as well as hay and row crops.  No hogs any more.  The rules kept tightening, my facilities were wore out, and frankly, I didn't want to have to be stuck raising hogs for 20 years to get everything paid off.   I am with Kay, the manure management rules are a pain in the butt.  You need to have a manure pit big enough to hold a years worth of manure, as well as any runoff that may find its way inside, because you can't apply whenever.  There may be a week, maybe two if you are lucky, in the time harvest is done, before conditions say 'no-no' to it.  There is a longer window of time to do it in the spring, but at that time the fields are often muddy, packing the soil.  The manure may be 'free' so to speak, but I can fertilize 10 acres conventionally, in the same time I fertilize one acre with manure.  Plus, the fertilizer company lets me use their applicator, and nurse tanks, for next to nothing.  My manure hauling requires me to have 2 tractors, a loader, a spreader, and anything else needed.  I don't have a scale, so I have to count 'loads', keeping track of how many loads went out, and over how many rows, as well as the approximate length of the rows.  There are regulations as to how much fertilizer that can put on in one application, as well as in a year.  All this because I had a 'capacity' of 1000 head per year.  Now all this wasn't mandatory by law, as of yet, but strongly recommended, in case of complaint.

My cattle manure, is much more lenient, probably because there are no super-big feedlots in the county, or trying to build in the county, like there were hog units a few years back.

Funny thing, there are limits as to how much manure can be applied, to prevent leaching, but I can put 500# of N per acre of commercial fertilizer, and no one cares.  I would actually argue that the manure is LESS likely to leach nutrients out, because it is 'bound' in the organic matter of the manure itself, instead of being spread or injected on the ground, and having to find something to adhere to.

I have a feeling the EPA is going to start telling people when, where, and how much fertilizer they can apply.  I don't think it is a matter of 'if', so much as a matter of 'when'.  Too much fall application raising the nitrate levels in water will only accelerate the process.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

Precisely my point, buit with one difference:  Here in NC, it is and has been mandatory, to an ever-increasing degree, since 1995, and we have had a hog expansion moratorium since 1996. 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Fertilizer loss?

All one needs to do is pull a 40=  ppm of nitrates out of your domestic well and we know where the N is going--- and the number isn't going down the last 12 years---

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