How do you spread manure?

Manure spreaders are great equipment for getting the dirtiest jobs done. But whether you’re farming cattle, herding horses, or growing vegetables, what do you need to do with your manure? Today, we’re going to walk you through the benefits of manure spreading.

What is the best way to spread manure?

The best way to spread manure is dependent on whether you’re using solid or liquid manure. Solid manure requires using a flail spreader or side discharge unit. Liquid manure requires topsoil style spreaders and the general liquid manure applicator.

Your needs will determine whether you need solid or liquid manure. But what are the benefits of either format?

What are the benefits of liquid manure?

Liquid manure packs certain benefits for your farm or construction site. When applying/spreading liquid manure, you can set a uniform pattern in the soil. That means your fields get a far more consistent coating.

The same ease of application also means that liquid manure is much more fast acting than solid manure. Plants get the much-needed nutrients so much faster. Farmers are starting to apply liquid manure much earlier in the season to get that good root growth stabilized.

In terms of economics, liquid manure is also winning that battle. Your average farmer will only have to apply liquid fertilizer in one pass to last the entire season. So, let’s look at the benefits of liquid manure.

You use less time; you can do it once and earlier in the season and you don’t have to worry about oversaturating your plants. Liquid manure sounds like a win-win.

What are the benefits of solid manure?

Solid manure offers you benefits that help reduce soil erosion, stop nitrate leaching, cuts down on energy demands and reduces carbon levels. While we discussed the perks of liquid manure over granular solid manure, what is keeping so many people in the old solid format?

Solid manure matter improves soil by giving it more nutrients and ability to hold water. The solid materials also give you more slow-release options. As time concerns grow for the modern farmer, that might not be the same kind of benefit that it once was.

What else can solid manure do for you? It’s cheaper to buy in bulk and it’s easier to store. Farmers should always make sure to keep an eye on costs and ease of application.

Do I need a big manure spreader?

Big manure spreaders are helpful if you’re working large open tracts of land. But manure spreader needs go beyond simple equipment size. Let’s talk about the benefits of picking the right manure spreader for you.

You get to save your precious time

Time on a farm or outdoor work site is a precious commodity. Most manure spreaders are designed to spread and store manure. That means with certain models, you can eliminate the need to constantly load a spreader. That doesn’t mean leave manure in there forever. It just means you don’t have to do it daily.

The right manure spreader helps you to work more efficiently

Manure spreaders offer full control over manure spreading in ways you’ve never experience. Added control and less waste equals more productive work.

Using a manure spreader allows you to focus your work elsewhere

All spreaders are user-friendly. That means you don’t experience a lengthy learning curve and you can return to your normal routine with relative ease. Less time having to thumb through a manual or figure out basic configurations, means more time doing other things.

It’s just easier to work with a manure spreader

Manure spreaders are built to last a long while. That means less constant maintenance and keeping an eye out of the next great model.

How does a manure spreader work?

Manure spreaders work by towing a trailer behind a trailer with a multi-part rotating mechanism. There are two beaters and a spreader that help move the materials.

When you’re spreading solid manure, it is discharged evenly at different rates depending on the spreader settings. But things are quite different when it comes to liquid manure.

Liquid manure means you’re going to need what is called a slurry spreader. This kind of spreader agitates the liquid manure inside of it to make sure it gets a balanced spread effect. All manure spreaders are going to quite calibration of some degree.

The manufacturer of the manure spreader will have recommended speeds for operation. It’s recommended to not run the machine too quick, as you’re going to destroy the spread impact. You’re also going to want to lubricate the spreader after each use.

Could a small manure spreader work for me?

Small manure spreaders are best for smaller scale farmers and homeowners with larger properties. While the small manure spreaders tend to be a little more nimble, most frequent manure spreaders will need something a bit bigger.

The beauty of using a small manure spreader is that they are perfect for small farms. As the number of small farms grows each year, there is a demand for practical solutions. Does that mean that small manure spreaders should be exclusive to small farms? Not exactly.

What a small manure spreader offers is a way to make the most out of the manure produced on your small or any-size farm. Small farmers must consider the amount of manual labor they undertake, so manure spreaders help to reduce the physical strain of animal droppings clean-up.

Small farms also require small manure spreaders with a single narrow axis. That axis will give your spreader the ability to turn on a dime. Maneuverability is key in small areas, and it sets your spreading patterns.

The adjustment process required for a small manure spreader isn’t that steep. So, if you have a small parcel of land or small farm, you can make a small manure spreader work for you.

How do you attach a manure spreader?

Attaching a manure spreader requires patience and a bit of experience. But it’s easy to learn how to attach a spreader with little strain to you or the equipment.

You fasten the hitch to the drawbar on older spreaders or if it’s a skid steer loader, you use a quick-tach plate. Then, you load the spreader with either solid or liquid manure. When you move liquid manure, you might need to moderate the weight of it during initial loading.

After you have it successfully attached, not overloading the spreader is the next big step. Drive slowly, avoid sharp turns, and don’t back up if you miss spreading. When done, disengage the spreader just as how you attached it.

Can you spread compost with a manure spreader?

You will not have the best time spreading compost with a manure spreader. Well, without successfully converting the spreader. What you should really be focused on with this question is at what point are you spreading the compost?

A lot of farmers have had success loading bucket attachments on skid steer loaders or general tractor buckets and gently nudging compost out that way. But that’s a bit more DIY and old fashioned. Not because it’s an old way, but because modern farmers don’t like having to take a harrow to the work afterwards.

Some still might say that you can’t spread compost whatsoever and that’s true. Mainly because the nature of drop spreaders is set up for tiny seeds and fertilizer granules. Those applications are way too small for the standard clumpy compost.

Could a manure spreader be used for grass seed?

You can spread grass seed with a manure spreader. Broadcast and drop spreaders tend to get used in the past to seed an area. However, manure spreaders offer flexible approaches outside of your standard seed spreader.

As time goes on and liquid manure becomes more popular, this might change. But for now, it’s a reality.

How do I know if my manure is spread evenly?

Spreading manure evenly takes a game plan. Most people tend to prefer an optimal pattern of using a broadcast spreader formation. That means applying a header strip by circling the work area’s perimeter.

After doing that, you can then start spreading a thing layer over the surface area of your work site. Depending on your environment, you can then water the area and sit back and wait. If you miss a turn or forget a corner…you can restart. That doesn’t involve backing up but starting a second lap.

How often am I going to have to spread manure?

Spreading manure requires planning and sticking to a schedule. Some liquid manure will only be required once a season spreading. Then, there are the dry manures that require careful application at key points of time. That’s not to forget the number of natural issues that can cause a need for frequent manure application.

There are things such as liquid fertilizer and nutrient supplements to help when dry fertilizer/manure gets washed away by floods or natural rainwater. But these incidents will be few and far between. So, long story short…you will spread at least once and then follow-up as needed and not on a fixed schedule.

Do I fertilize or seed first?

You should typically fertilize before seeding. In fact, you should start fertilizing when the ground is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re in America, that means planning around March to early April for fertilization.

After all of this is done, then you should start seeding.

How long do I wait after seeding to fertilize?

When you find yourself in this situation, it’s more related to grass seed than crops. Basically, you will fertilize with a quick-release liquid manure nitrogen rich base to get yourself going. When it comes to grass and the environments you work in, might lead to reapplying just 4 weeks after the first layer.

You’ll do that to develop a deep root system and stop weeds. But that’s about proper soil preparation for grass. What’s the difference when it comes to crops?

The standard edible crops will see fertilizer applied in the early spring before planting. But let’s say you already planted. You can use dry granule fertilizer about three to five inches deep near plants. Some will try to use liquid manure at this point, but it can cause burning in the hands of a rookie.

Crops such as corn will need fertilizer at season’s start, then a wee bit near the launch of summer. The bigger crop needs are related to potatoes and tomatoes. When you see people reapplying mid-season, it’s because these two money crops are notorious nutrient drainers.

Do pull-type spreaders or spreader attachments work best?

Pull-type spreaders can help with manure spreading needs, but does it work the best? The pull-type covers more area in a less time. The pull-type manure spreader was designed initially for row crop farming. They are also durable and easy to maintain and operate.

General spreader attachments are what people tend to think work best. That’s because it’s what the modern farmer and outdoor worker can find first and easiest. The entry cost of having a tractor or skid steer negates a lot of older barriers to the general attachment market.

So, do pull-type spreaders or spreader attachments work best? It really depends on what you have available and what works best for your farm.

Why is Spring the preferred time to spread manure?

Spring seems to be the best time for manure spreading. That’s because the way the timetable for application works out. The mix of weather and soil conditions allows for primed fields and less strain on the spreader equipment.

Think about your own fertilizing times. When do you spread in the Spring? Earlier in March or later in April?

Can composting manure burn my plants?

Composting manure can cause plants to burn if applied poorly. Nitrogen and phosphorus are balanced in a way that helps them to naturally move through soil. Sometimes, plant friendly compost can result in pockets of phosphorous lingering around too long.

That’s because plants siphon out the nitrogen first to grow and thrive. When you use manure-based fertilizers, you tend to get a little closer to a 1:1 ratio regarding nitrogen and phosphorus. That way, you don’t have the recurring pockets that end up burning your valuable plants.

Is there such a thing as spreading too much manure?

Spreading manure is a balancing act. If you spread too much manure you leach nitrates out of the soil, cause run off and sometimes cause salt related damage. While we can talk about the chemical balancing act of modern manure all day, let’s keep it basic.

You can spread too much manure if what you are using isn’t up to proper standards. All fertilizer is a balancing act. Spread watered down fertilizer and your crops will starve. If you apply too heavy a fertilizer, you risk burning your grass and crops.

How easy is it to load a manure spreader?

Manure spreaders are loaded with telehandlers, shovels, and excavators. Some farmers load it in daily, while others have dedicated practices for manure storage. Your degree of ease when it comes to loading a manure spreader will depend on the individual farmer/outdoor worker.

Why do farmers spread manure at night?

As with all things, time isn’t always on your side. You have a 36-hour window after applying manure to your land to get drying right. If you apply in a field where drying conditions are optimal, then you have less smell and mess.

Last minute manure questions

Here are a few last-minute questions about manure spreading.

Horse manure is better than cow

Horse manure holds way less water and when it dries up, you are left with way more nitrogen.

What’s the real of thumb for manure spread per acre

The typical manure spread is 25 tons per acre. That way you get around 75 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

Is compost better to use than manure

Compost vs. manure has been a debate that has plagued farmers for a while. Compost causes nutrient reactions and stimulates natural activity without harming plants. While manure can be missing components or have too much depending on the animal source of the manure.

Is manure worse to use than standard fertilizer

Some people will argue that manure provides less plant nutrients and has less yield. Fertilizer is built to meet the needs of a farm based on prolonged experience.

What should I do when I’m ready to buy a manure spreader?

When you’re ready to pull the trigger on a manure spreader, narrow down your final options before buying. Here’s a checklist to help you out.

  1. Figure out how much you’re going to spread and what you’re using to spread manure.
  2. Are there any size restrictions based on where you’re working?
  3. What kind of construction quality do you need?
  4. Are you going to store manure in the spreader, or will you be cleaning it daily?
  5. Ask around your community and research manure spreader reviews online.
  6. Then, make your purchase.