Key Considerations For Manure Application To Soybeans

During the last decade, the number and size of confined animal feeding operations has continued to increase. In the Midwest, corn is the primary recipient of liquid manure from these facilities. However, while the density of production animals has continued to increase, the corn acreage available for manure application has not. To avoid over-application of manure to corn land, producers are pursuing other crops such as soybeans as alternative crops to receive manure.

Why Consider Applying Manure To Legumes?

The justification often applied for manure use on legumes is their ability to reduce N fixation when a readily available N source such as manure is applied. In addition, crops such as soybeans can utilize the phosphorus and potassium applied with the manure, thus reducing the costs of commercial fertilizer. For example, a 60 bushel/acre soybean crop in Iowa may remove up to 228 lbs. of nitrogen, 48 lbs. of phosphorus (P2O5) and 90 lbs. of potassium (K2O) per acre.

While there may be some economic, practical and environmental reasons to apply manure to both corn and legumes such as soybeans there are also some disadvantages of such practices.

Effects Of Manure Application To Soybeans

One area of concern is related to the environmental consequences of manure application to row crops such as soybeans, and specifically concerns about nitrate losses through subsurface drainage systems. Relative to environmental considerations, it should be noted that application of manure on corn residue prior to soybeans may have some benefit compared to application of the manure prior to corn on soybean residue since sufficient soil residue cover may be maintained with injection into cornstalks. In addition, there are questions on whether there are any negative impacts of manure application on soybean yields.

Yield Impacts

Several studies have been performed in the Midwest region of the U.S. resulting in positive yield increases related to liquid swine manure application on soybeans. However, there is no single conclusion as to why an increase in yield occurs. The studies identify yield increases from manure as the potential result of in-field initial nitrate, P, K, or other nutrient deficiencies. So, manure provided the nutrients that were deficient resulting in a yield increase and offsetting costs for purchased fertilizer. However, not in all cases was the yield increase sufficient to overcome application costs.

In addition to potential environmental concerns some studies have noted rare occurrences of reductions in soybean yield when manure is applied prior to soybeans and higher occurrences of common soybean diseases. A Minnesota study recommended that application of manure be avoided on fields with a history of white mold due to potential yield suppression due to manure application. Others have noted that manure application prior to soybeans can increase certain soybean diseases, specifically Pythium and Phytophthora damping off and Phytophthora root rot.

Another precaution that has been raised relative to liquid swine manure application to soybeans is that soybean seed germination and emergence can be sensitive to salts, so that if manure is applied close to planting time, there is a potential for injury especially if the soybean is planted into the manure or very near the manure.

Environmental Impacts

There have been few studies that have documented the environmental impacts of manure application to soybeans. A Minnesota study in the 1990’s evaluated the impact of liquid swine manure application on nodulating and non-nodulating soybeans. They found that applying manure at greater nitrogen rates than needed for maximum soybean yields did not adversely affect soybean yield. However, they found that application of nitrogen from the liquid swine manure increased post harvest soil nitrate levels. They also found greater increases in soil nitrate levels early in the growing season than post harvest.

Nitrogen

Manure application rates supplying from 0 to 446 lb N/acre in 89 lb N/acre increments were used in the study. Post-harvest soil nitrate levels were on average 37.7 lb N/acre (0-48 in) when no manure was applied and increased to 39.9, 44.4, 51.0, and 60.0 lb N/acre at applied nitrogen application rates of 50, 100, 150, and 200 lb N/acre, respectively. So, at an applied nitrogen application rate of 100 lb N/acre which might be about one-half of crop removal (soybean) the post-harvest soil nitrate was increased by about 15% compared to when no manure was applied.

Two drainage water quality studies in Iowa have evaluated the impact of liquid swine manure application to both corn and soybeans within a corn-soybean rotation. For a four-year study (2001-2004) at the Gilmore City research site in Pocahontas County, applying liquid swine manure at the rate of 150 lb N/acre (total nitrogen) before both corn and soybeans did not increase either corn or soybean yields compared to a rate of 200 lb N/acre of manure applied every other year before corn. In addition, the total of 300 lbs (two years of 150 lb N/acre) versus the 200 lb N/acre two-year-rate resulted in nitrate-N concentrations in tile drainage increasing on average from 17 to 23 mg/L, a 35% increase that was statistically significant.

For a six-year study (2001-2006) at the ISU Northeast Iowa Research Farm, applying liquid swine manure at the rate of 150 lb N/acre (total nitrogen) before corn and 200 lb N/acre (total nitrogen) before soybeans increased corn and/or soybean yields slightly some years (on average 3 and 2 bu/acre for corn and soybeans, respectively) compared to 150 lb N/ac of manure applied every other year before corn. The total of 350 (one year of 150 lb N/acre and one year of 200 lb N/acre) versus the 150 lb N/acre two-year-rate resulted in nitrate-N concentrations in tile drainage increasing on average from 21 to 38 mg/L, an 81% increase.

Both of these studies applied a relatively high nitrogen rate to the soybeans, but at these rates when liquid swine manure was applied every year in a corn-soybean rotation there was an increase in nitrate-nitrogen concentrations in the subsurface drainage water. However, it is unknown what direct water quality risk there would be with lower application rates specifically at rates ranging from 100-125 lb N/acre to soybeans. While the results discussed above were for studies on tile drained soils it is expected that there would be similar risks on non-tile drained soils relative to nitrate concentrations moving below the crop root zone.

Phosphorus

The application of manure to both corn and soybean, as noted above, could increase the risk of nitrate loss. Additionally the annual application of manure could increase the buildup phosphorus which could be of concern mainly from a surface runoff perspective. Considering a 60 bu/acre soybean crop the phosphorus removal (P2O5) might be 48 lb/acre and the potassium removal (K2O) might be 90 lb/acre, and a 200 bu/acre corn crop might remove 75 lb/acre of phosphorus (P2O5) and 60 lb/acre of potassium (K2O). This might result in a two-year removal of 123 lb/acre of phosphorus (P2O5) and 150 lb/acre of potassium (K2O).

Applying liquid swine manure at a nitrogen application rate of 150 lb N/acre to corn and 100 lb N/acre to soybeans (250 lb N/acre in two year rotation) might result in an overall phosphorus application of 172 lb/acre and an overall potassium application of 194 lb/acre (using values for liquid swine manure from a grow-finish operation (wet/dry). These application rates could be a long-term concern relative to phosphorus build up since crop removal might be 123 lb/acre for phosphorus with a phosphorus application of 172 lb/acre. A phosphorus buildup could have implications relative to the phosphorus index.

Pros, Cons, And Recommendations For Manure Application To Soybeans

Pros

  • Manure can supply phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and other nutrients;
  • Manure application on cornstalks can provide greater crop residue cover and lower erosion potential when injected or incorporated into cornstalks instead of soybean stubble on erosive land;
  • Manure application to soybeans can provide flexibility in application plans; and
  • Manure application to soybeans may improve soybean yields in some case.

Cons

  • Manure application to soybeans has the risk to increase nitrate in the soil profile which may increase the risk of nitrate loss;
  • Manure application to both corn and soybeans at an N rate for both crops could lead to a buildup of phosphorus; and
  • Manure application to soybeans under certain conditions may increase the risk of soybean diseases which could negatively impact yield.

Recommendations

  • Limit manure application to soybeans to a rate that compensates for N that would not be fixed by the soybean – this may be in the range of 100 lb N /acre;
  • Possibly limit manure application to soybeans to rates that fulfill the P and/or K requirements of the soybean crop or two-year corn-soybean rotation; and
  • Avoid manure applications when there is low crop utilization (i.e., fall applications).

Source: Extension.org, Matt Helmers, Iowa State University

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
CropLife 100Wheat Growers, North Central Farmers Elevator Pursue Merger
March 3, 2015
Two CropLife 100 retailers — South Dakota Wheat Growers (ranked No. 11) and North Central Farmers Elevator (No. 19) — have entered into a Letter of Intent to unify the two companies into a newly named cooperative. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
Latest News
FungicidesSyngenta Suing Willowood Over Azoxystrobin Fungicide
March 27, 2015
Syngenta announced today that it has sued agrochemical maker Willowood, LLC., for patent and copyright infringement, as well as unfair Read More
ManagementRetail Week: The Future Of Mycogen Seeds; The 4Rs At Na…
March 27, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Matt Hopkins discuss recent trips, including a look at the future of Mycogen Seeds at Dow Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto Hears The WHO
March 27, 2015
Another challenge to the safety of glyphosate, and the responses from supporters and opponents, calls to mind a classic Dr. Seuss story. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Plant Food Expands Sales Team
March 27, 2015
Monty’s Plant Food Company, a leader in natural soil enhancement and  plant fertility products, has hired Andrew Bullock as a Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Louisiana Plant Poised For 2015 Production
March 26, 2015
As the 2015 planting season gets underway, growers across the country will need crop protection products to combat pests and Read More
Lake Erie Nutrient Stewardship
LegislationOhio Lawmakers Finalize Phosphorus Restrictions
March 25, 2015
State lawmakers on Wednesday finalized new rules designed to curb toxic algal blooms on Lake Erie, calling the regulations a major step forward in addressing the problem. Read More
Spreaders17 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2015
March 25, 2015
Manufacturers shoot for versatility and accuracy in this year's crop of fertilizer spreaders. Read More
Industry NewsMonty’s Hires Mid-South Product Consultant
March 25, 2015
Monty's Plant Food Co. has hired Matt Woodring as a Product Consultant for portions of Central Kentucky and Tennessee.    Read More
StewardshipMapShots Integrates With DriftWatch
March 23, 2015
Growers and agricultural providers using AgStudio FARM and AgStudio PRO can now view vital information about specialty crops and apiaries through a recent integration with the DriftWatch Specialty Crop Site Registry from FieldWatch, Inc. Read More
Crop InputsWorld Health Organization Report Contradicts Scientific…
March 23, 2015
A new report from the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate with a “2A” rating as a probable carcinogen, a Read More
Eric SfiligojSeed Treatment Stays Necessary
March 20, 2015
Grower-customers looking to scale back spending in 2015 won’t consider seed treatment, say experts. Read More
HerbicidesMARCH MADNESS: Industry Rallies Around Glyphosate Safet…
March 20, 2015
A newly published report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies the herbicide glyphosate as a "2A-rated possible carcinogen" and the ag industry responds by circling the wagons. Read More
ManagementRetail Week: Precision survey, a technology acquisition…
March 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sflilgoj discuss recent travel, the upcoming precision adoption survey, and an unusual sighting at a Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Launching TerraGrow Soil Inoculant
March 20, 2015
TerraGrow is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal spores and nutrients carefully designed to promote healthier soil and crops. Read More
Winter Wheat
AdjuvantsMax Systems Debuts New Adjuvant NanoRevolution 2.0
March 18, 2015
Added to a tank mix of glyphosate at the conservative rate of two to four ounces per acre, NanoRevolution 2.0 has proven effective in killing resistant weed species that had already had up to two applications of the leading glyphosate product. Read More
Photo credit: United Soybean Board/the Soybean Checkoff
Seed/BiotechAgnition Launches Microbial Catalyst Seed Treatment
March 18, 2015
Agnition it has launched Commence for Soybeans, a microbial catalyst seed treatment for soybeans that stimulates microbial activity for healthier soil and a superior growth environment. Read More
4R Certified, Nutrient Stewardship Council,
StewardshipTyler Grain & Fertilizer Now 4R Certified
March 18, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Tyler Grain & Fertilizer Co. in Smithville, OH, has been added to Read More