Slurry and manure

Excerpts from newspaper articles

"Spreading of manure is allowed before direct seeding"

Spreading of manure is allowed before direct seeding in autumn. Both the conditions of the Environmental Subsidy and the Nitrate Resolution allow surface application in connection with autumn seeding.

Some farmers have received misleading information from the authorities. They have been told that the Nitrate Resolution in every case requires ploughing down of the manure spread in autumn.

This is what the Nitrate Resolution of the Council of State really says: "In autumn, the manure spread to any other place than to plant stand under founding, must always be earthed up or ploughed without delay." Thus the Nitrate Resolution does not require that the manure spread on a plot under direct seeding is earthed over or ploughed down, confirms Chief Inspector Heikki Latostenmaa of the Ministry of the Environment.

In this respect the conditions of the Environmental Subsidy are almost identical to the conditions of the Nitrate Resolution. Both require that the manure spread on the soil surface in autumn, i.e. after August the 31st, is ploughed down (Guide of Environmental Subsidies, page 15). Plant stands that are planted in autumn are an exception. If winter grain is sown directly in stubble using a Direct Seeding Drill, the conditions are met, says Chief Inspector Sini Wallenius from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Spreading of manure on grasslands after August the 31st is not allowed if it is not placed or if the field is not ploughed after the spreading.

The conditions of the Environmental Subsidy apply to those farms that have registered as animal husbandry farms. Those farms, which have chosen the crop husbandry option, are obliged to follow the regulations of the Nitrate Resolution. Then tillage is an alternative for ploughing, provided that manure is spread to other than the stand being planted.

The spreading time is supervised on plot-basis during the Environmental Subsidy controls.

Refer to the adjacent table for maximum manure amounts allowed to be applied in autumn according to the regulations of the Environmental Subsidy and Nitrate Resolution.

Manure type tn/ha
Cattle and horses 30
Pigs 20

Chicken and furred animals


Satu Lehtonen


"In direct seeding, the manure slurry is mixed with soil"

"In direct seeding, the manure slurry is mixed sufficiently with soil, so no separate tillage with, for example, a rotary harrow is needed," points out Environmental counsellor councillor?Mr. Heikki Latostenmaa from the Ministry of the Environment.

According to the Nitrate Resolution, "the organic fertilizer must either be earthed over or ploughed down without delay, within no later than 24 hours". The requirement is met if, after spreading of manure slurry, the soil is seeded using a direct seeding drill, says Mr. Latostenmaa.

The Ministry of the Environment refers says/confirms/states that experience gained from several tens of hectares has proved that in connection with direct seeding the manure is mixed sufficiently.

The spreading of manure slurry may be continued after the emergence. It pays to apply the manure slurry to new shoots using a hose spreader. This ensures the nutrients end up at the roots of the plant stand. On grasslands it is possible to place the manure slurry, but on crop fields it is not easy. The placement coulters tear off the shoots.

The Nitrate Resolution allows surface application on flat fields with an inclination of less than 10 percent. Surface application on shoots and grasslands is, however, not very commonplace.

According to the resolution, the amount of slurry spread on fields per annum must not exceed the equivalent of 170 kilos of nitrogen. Nitrogen fertilizing is always prohibited in areas within 5 metres of bodies of water.

Pirjo Loiskekoski


"The manure slurry is absorbed well by the surface layer of the cornfield"
During the study, only three percent of the nitrogen evaporated.

The manure slurry, applied to the field surface using a band applicator (equivalent to hose spreading), is well absorbed by the topsoil. The soil binds the soluble ammonium nitrate well in the manure slurry, said Mr. Pasi Mattila from Agrifood Research Finland at the meeting of the Scientific Agricultural Society of Finland in Jokioinen on Wednesday.

The plants are not necessarily able to make full use of the manure spread on the field surface. The nutrients may not be available to the roots, Mr. Mattila said.

In the study the manure slurry was spread on the surface of the crop field when the spring wheat was at the 1-2 leaf stage or 3-4 leaf stage.

Much more ammonia evaporated from the manure slurry spread on grassland than from the slurry spread on cornfield. According to Mr. Mattila, it is obvious that the grass stand and the denser topsoil reduce absorption of the slurry into the soil and thus the volatility of ammonia is increased.

According to the study, a crop field seems definitely more suitable for spreading manure slurry on the soil surface, says the researcher. About the same amount of ammonia evaporated from broadcast application as from band spreading when the spreading was carried out at an early stage. If the manure were spread into high and dense crop stands, less evaporation would probably have resulted from band spreading.

According to the study, the placing of manure slurry prevented the evaporation of ammonia almost completely. Placing is also a better option because it makes the nutrients more available to the roots, says Mr. Mattila. As a result of placing after the seeding or placing in the grass the plants damages are common in spring corn.

Harrowing does not transfer the nutrients as deeply as placing.

Evaporation of ammonia was most intensive shortly after the application and after that decreased very soon. According to some studies, the evaporation increased as the wind picked up.

The maximum nutrient load was caused by manure slurry spread on the grass. In 1998-2000, the summated total load of phosphorous was 4,8 kilos per hectare on broadcast application plots, 2,1 kilos on placement plots and 1,5 kilos on chemical fertilizer plots, says Ms. Jaana Uusikämppä from MTT.

Correspondingly, the total nitrogen load for the same circumstances was 11, 6,5 and 3,5 kilos per hectare.

The director of the research centre, Mr. Erkki Joki-Tokola, presented the meeting with a study about the use of manure slurry in connection with the founding of grassland. The conclusion of Mr. Joki-Tokola was that the utilization grade of nitrogen fertilization in grasslands and fodder grain couldn’t be improved unless the properties of the crop fields of the cattle husbandry farms are taken into account in the recommendations. The large amount of organic matter and the amount of nitrogen released from it during the growing season must also be considered.

Pirjo Loiskekoski


"Dry manure may be spread on shoots in connection with direct seeding."

In connection with direct seeding, dry manure may be spread on the shoots in summer. The same applies to spreading of manure slurry on the plant stand, points out Environmental counsellor Mr. Heikki Latostenmaa from the Ministry of the Environment.

Lately, there have been some press releases containing controversial information about spreading dry manure on direct seeded crops in summer. Some have claimed that dry manure must not be spread on the plant stand, because the requirement of earthing over is not fulfilled. Others think that there are no restrictions to spreading to the plant stand.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has passed the issue over to the Ministry of the Environment, which is responsible for implementing the Nitrate Resolution. The regulations concerning the spreading of manure are based on the Nitrate Resolution. According to Mr. Latostenmaa, the Nitrate Resolution does not restrict spreading in summer. On the contrary, as manure is spread on the plant stand in summer, the leaching of nitrate into bodies of water is less likely.

On the other hand, one must ask whether spreading on the plant stand is reasonable in terms of crop production. Dry manure stuck to the sprouts may cause burn damage and thereby crop losses, says Mr. Latostenmaa. The same applies to the spreading of manure slurry on the plant stand in summer.

According to Mr. Latostenmaa, direct seeding sets requirements on dry manure applicators in order to make spreading of the manure as smooth as possible. A proper result requires the use of precision spreaders such as trailers equipped with vertical and horizontal shredders.

The Ministry of the Environment does not oppose the spreading of dry manure in spring. According to Latostenmaa, the earthing over requirement is deemed to be fulfilled if the dry manure has been spread using a precision spreader and after that the field is seeded using a direct seeding drill with disk coulters. The covering is more efficient if the driving speed is sufficient.

According to Mr. Latostenmaa, the environmental administration has a positive attitude to direct seeding. As far as the environment is concerned, it is so far the best method introduced. More research is required, for example, into leaching of herbicides.

Veikko Niittymaa

According to the farmers’ experience, at least some nitrogen evaporates during broadcast spreading of slurry on the field surface. Furthermore, earthing over of the slurry is not quite as efficient as with a separate earthing pass using a rotary disk harrow or a level crusher. Therefore, the evaporated nitrogen can be replaced by granular nitrogen fertilizer and a bigger amount of slurry.