Use care when applying manure to alfalfa fields in order to maximize crop benefits, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska extension forage specialist. He offers the following tips for successful outcomes:
- Apply less than 3,000 gal. of liquid manure or 10 tons of solid manure per acre to minimize salt burn or smothering. If manure is dry, adjust the spreader to break up large chunks that can smother growth.
- Spread manure immediately after removing a cutting to minimize direct contact with foliage.
- Only spread manure when fields are dry and firm to limit soil compaction and avoid wheel traffic damaging plant crowns.
- If the goal is to stimulate grass yield, apply manure to fields with lots of grass, otherwise select fields with little grass if the goal is to minimize grass competition. The nitrogen in manure can stimulate grasses already in the alfalfa to become more competitive.
Anderson says manure application equipment can damage alfalfa crowns and compact soil, so producers should be careful not to do more harm than good when applying manure in alfalfa fields.
Source: University of Nebraska.