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Fall Manure Handling

Summer has ended, and fall is here, and along with that comes manure spreading. Liquid manure and bedded pack manure will be spread ahead of or after planting fall/ winter cover or annual crops, but let's take a brief look at where and how much manure to apply on different crops.

  • Use soil tests and Fertrell's Agronomy team for advice on when and where to apply manure.
  • You need to know the crop's fertility needs you intend to apply manure on.
  • On hay fields, apply manure 30 days before a killing frost if possible. This will allow the legumes and grasses to uptake nutrients and store them in their roots for spring.
  • Apply manure before seeding cover crops or after the cover crops are up and established at least 5-6 inches.

Here are several manure-handling procedures that will significantly impact the value of manure and the amount of nutrients that will be held for your crop.

  1. Dry manure can be composted in windrows. This is the best way to stabilize nutrients in manure and increase their availability for crop uptake. Composting does require a lot of work to make a quality product. This is also a great place to add micro-nutrients and use a compost accelerant or manure digestion aid. Creating good quality compost is labor intensive and needs to be done properly by mixing materials in the right carbon-to-nitrogen (C:N) ratio. Turning windrows on time and making sure moisture levels are acceptable.
  2. If applying fresh manure, whether pen-packed or liquid, it is a good idea to incorporate it as soon as possible. If you are in a no-till rotation, obviously, this is not possible, but applying before a light rain can help retain some nitrogen. Incorporation of manure within 24 hours can help save up to 30% more nitrogen that otherwise would have been lost due to volatilization of ammonia.
  3. Using a manure digester is a great tool to start sequestering nutrients before the manure ever leaves the bedded pack or the pit. It is one of the easiest and best things a farmer can do to increase the fertility value of his manure. Applying a digestion aid to manure in pits and bedded packs can start the biological action long before the manure goes to the field. Bacteria work to stabilize the nitrogen in the manure and work on breaking down straw and bedding materials. This means easier

handling of pack manure that will load and spread easily. For pits and lagoons, it means less ammonia when agitating. Pits will agitate easier and contain less solids when emptying. When manure is applied on fields, it will not have a strong ammonia smell because the nitrogen has been converted into a stable plant-available form. Phosphorus, potassium, and other micro-nutrients also benefit and become more plant-available from this digestion process.


Fertrell offers an outstanding product called Pit N Pen, which is a manure digestion product. We have been manufacturing it for over a decade with excellent results on many farms. It contains multiple strains of fermentation bacteria, yeast, and Yucca Shidigera extract for additional nutrient retention.

Application instructions are as follows:

Dry Pen Pack Manure

1/2 lb. per 100 sq. ft.

Non-fibrous material every 3 inches of depth.

Fibrous material every 6 inches of depth Start applying after the pack is 6 in deep.

Liquid Pit Manure

Initial Treatment 2 lb. per 10,000 gal Additional Treatments 1/2 lb. per 10,000 gal.

Start when the pit is empty.

Stop applying eight weeks before hauling the manure pack or emptying the liquid pit. The biological action of Pit N Pen requires 60 days for complete action and breakdown.

Proper manure handling/management/use of digestion aids can significantly affect manure quality, ease of spreading, and, most importantly, convert valuable nutrients into a plant-available form.

Orin Moyer
Written by Orin Moyer

Orin is on the agronomy team at Fertrell. Specializing in row crops and larger farming ventures on the soils side, he runs a 50-cow organic dairy farm as well.

About this Blog

The Fertrell Company blog is for farmers, backyard gardeners, and homesteaders alike. Learn from the experts on all things natural and organic for both soil and livestock.

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