Manure Incorporation and
Crop Residue Cover —
Part II: Fine-Tuning the System

How injector/applicator spacing, tire spacing, field speed, and other factors influence the amount of residue cover reduction after manure incorporation.

David P. Shelton, Extension Agricultural Engineer

Manure incorporation represents a conflict between best management practices for soil erosion control and manure management. Manure should be incorporated into the soil for odor control, maximum availability of nutrients, and control of potential manure runoff. However, for maximum soil erosion control, the soil and crop residue should remain undisturbed. These two best management practices must be balanced since disturbing the soil and residue for manure incorporation, either with conventional tillage implements or equipment specifically designed for manure application, reduces the residue cover remaining for erosion control.

The companion NebGuide, Manure Incorporation and Crop Residue Cover — Part I: Reduction of Cover (G1563), presents results from a field study conducted at the University of Nebraska Haskell–Lincoln Agricultural Laboratory at Concord to evaluate the degree of residue cover reduction caused by soil-engaging components typically used with tank spreaders and towed hose systems to apply liquid or slurry manure. Ranges of values are given for the percentage of the initial residue cover that could be expected to remain after the operation of chisel and sweep manure injectors, disk and coulter applicators and a tandem disk.

This NebGuide discusses how injector/applicator spacing, tire spacing, field speed, and other factors influence the amount of residue cover reduction. Much of this information is based on experience and field observations and is intended to help livestock producers select and operate manure application/incorporation equipment to maximize residue cover and erosion control.

Fine-Tuning the System for Residue Management

The type of soil-engaging component (chisel or sweep injector, disk-type applicator, coulter-type applicator, etc.) is the predominant factor affecting residue cover reduction during manure incorporation. Adjustments, operating conditions, and many other factors also can influence the amount of reduction that occurs. Following is a discussion of some of these factors.

Results of this research project indicate that adequate residue cover can be maintained for effective erosion control with some configurations of manure injectors/applicators, particularly in corn or other non-fragile residue; however, to achieve this the equipment must be selected, adjusted, and operated with the dual objectives of manure and residue management, rather than the objective of simply disposing of the manure. With careful planning, livestock producers should be able to select a manure management system that is compatible with their objectives for controlling soil erosion.


Financial support for this project was provided by the Nebraska Pork Producers Association. Manure equipment was provided by Balzer Manufacturing Corp., Mountain Lake, Minnesota; Calumet Division of Imperial Industries Inc., Wausau, Wisconsin; Sukup Manufacturing Co., Sheffield, Iowa; and Vittetoe, Inc., Keota, Iowa.

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Index: Soil Resource Management

2005, Revised January 2012