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60 Ways Farmers Can Protect  Surface Water
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38. Apply Manure Wisely


The surface application of manure without plow-down or disking poses the greatest risk of nutrient losses, both through volatilization and surface runoff. Do not apply livestock manure on slopes that are frozen, snow-covered, or saturated because these conditions increase the threat of runoff. Also, never apply manure on slopes adjacent to lakes, rivers, or streams, or within 100 feet of wells, springs, or sinkholes.

If you till the soil after manure application, you reduce the chances that runoff will carry nutrients into surface water supplies. But make sure that tillage does not reduce the protective cover of surface residue to levels that lead to excessive soil erosion. Most nutrient losses occur within the first twenty-four hours after application, so incorporate manure as soon as possible after application.

Applying livestock manure through an irrigation system Applying livestock manure through an irrigation system calls for careful management to prevent runoff, especially on fine-textured and tight soils, which may not be permeable enough to absorb the liquids quickly. One of the keys to reducing runoff is to avoid saturating the soil.
Knifing manure into the soil Knifing manure into the soil is the best way to prevent nutrient loss and protect surface water. It is also the best way to incorporate manure in conservation tillage systems because it disturbs a minimal amount of crop residue. The drawbacks are an increased investment in equipment and greater energy requirements.
Drag-hose injection Drag-hose injection is essentially a combination of irrigation and injection. A flexible hose runs from a tractor-powered pump at the holding pond or pit to the field tractor. Drag-hose injection eliminates the need to transport manure to the field in a tank—one of the drawbacks of ordinary injection systems. By injecting the manure, you also reduce the risk of runoff and odors.

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