Using cover crops with fall manure applications

By Greg LaBarge and Glen Arnold, Ohio State University Extension, Field Specialist, Manure Management

As corn silage harvest starts, livestock producers and commercial manure applicators will follow with fall manure applications. Manure should be incorporated with a toolbar at application or soon after application with tillage to keep nutrients in place. Incorporation works well to preserve P and K for future crops, but nitrogen is different. Nitrogen is initially retained in the soil but will leach through tile or volatilize into the air unless we capture it in a growing crop. Cover crops fit well in the role of N retention. Ohio edge-of-field research monitoring agricultural practice impacts shows a reduction of tile nitrate losses of 84% with cover crops. Plus, there is an added benefit of preventing soil erosion.

Cereal rye, wheat, and oats are common cover crops after manure application. However, farmers also use radishes, clover, annual ryegrass, Sudan grass, or almost species they are comfortable growing.… Continue reading