There have been several calls this past week on using livestock manure as fertilizer for a recently planted or soon to be planted wheat crop.
Getting wheat planted in a timely fashion is important to get a good stand and allow the plants to have suitable weather for tillering. When considering surface application with a manure tanker or drag hose, the manure can be applied either before the wheat is planted or after the wheat has been planted. In either case, the wheat will emerge through the manure and utilize the manure nitrogen for stand establishment.
If incorporating the manure before wheat planting, it is important not to till the manure to the same depth as where the wheat seed will be placed. This can put too much salt (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash) too close to the germinating seed. Generally, surface applied nutrients are incorporated at about half of the depth a disk is set for.
Knifing in the manure below the seed zone, such as using Dietrich shanks, would work well in wheat. Placing the nutrients deeper in the soil will protect the germinating wheat seed and still allow roots to access the nutrients.
Poultry litter has become more popular as a starter fertilizer for wheat. With many farmers using a two-ton per acre application rate the litter provides plenty of nitrogen to get the wheat growing this fall.
The various manure sources we have available will all provide some nitrogen for the spring growth of the wheat crop. This amount is always somewhat of a wild card as we don’t know what amount of the nitrogen is lost over the winter.
Manure application rules in Ohio are influenced by watershed location and livestock farm size. Check with your local Soil & Water Conservation District about the most current rules in your area.