Submitted to: Journal of Production Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Dairy cows produce large amounts of milk, 26,000 gallons per year is not uncommon, but they also produce large quantities of manure. Each cow excretes about as much manure per day as 40 people. Dairy farmers are faced with the undesirable, daily task of managing this large volume of manure. There have been problems with leaks from manure storage pits in the epast, so many states are requiring that new pits be installed with special layers of clay, rubber, or concrete to prevent leaks. Farmers are interested in keeping these pits small to reduce the cost of installation, but small pits have to be emptied more frequently. In this research, we studied whether a grass forage crop, called reed canarygrass, could be used for manure applications during the summer when most of the farm land is covered with crops that do not allow manure application. Reed canarygrass is known to produce very high yields of forage, to have high nitrogen uptake capacity, and to be resistant to damage by traffic. We found that dairy manure could be applied to reed canarygrass at several different times during the spring, summer, and fall, with good improvements in grass yield and quality. Therefore, dairy farmers can use this forage as a convenient place to spread manure when other land is not available, and obtain higher production of cattle feed at the same time.
Technical Abstract: Perennial cool-season grasses in a crop rotation provide alternative land area for in-season manure applications. Reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) might be a suitable crop for manure application due to its consistently high yields and nitrogen (N) uptake capacity. The primary objective of this research was to evaluate the agronomic feasibility of using reed canarygrass for in-season manure applications. Field studies were established at three locations with pure stands of reed canarygrass. Liquid dairy manure treatments consisted of several rates of manure, broadcast or surface-band application methods, and single or split applications. Manure application rates up to 40,000 gal/acre/year (approximately 200 lb available N/acre) were applied. Forage dry matter yields were collected in a three-cutting management program. Increases in dry matter yields were measured as the rate of manure or N fertilizer increased, regardless of application time. Grass stand density generally decreased with manure or fertilizer compared to the unfertilized control. Split applications of the manure were not significantly better than single applications, whereas manure applied in early spring resulted in superior yields compared to July or September applications. Forage yield was similar for broadcast and surface-band application methods. Liquid manure can be applied to reed canarygrass either before spring growth or following each harvest without great concern about detrimental agronomic effects from high rates, application times, or methods.