The science behind 50-degree soil and nitrogen application

graphic of thermometer
Does nitrogen becoming nitrate mean we are going to lose it? No, it takes rainfall or snowmelt in the spring that will cause a leaching event, but it does increase the risk of loss. Certainly, there is a balance between making sure we get our manure applied before the soil freezes and applying too early, but hopefully the information above illustrates a bit behind the science of the 50°F and cooling recommendation.

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Cedar Tree, Manure and Soil Health Field Day

field day flyer
Join us for a field day on October 25th at the Howard County Fairgrounds and discover how cedar mulch can be combined with manure to improve soil health. There will be multiple demonstrations and discussions throughout the program including: soil health evaluation, nitrogen management and using manure in cropping systems, cedar tree management, soil carbon injection and cedar tree saw milling.

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COVID-68512: Sampling wastewater at ZIP code scale may help isolate hotspots

A graduate student collects a wastewater sample from a sewer connected to Harper Residence Hall.
A graduate student collects a wastewater sample from a sewer connected to Harper Residence Hall. Photo Credit: Craig Chandler, University Communication

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Wanted: Feedback for improved manure treatment

Nebraska Manure team survey flyer
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Manure Management Team is conducting a web survey to foster development of technologies that meet the practical manure management needs of modern swine and dairy farms in the Midwest. The survey asks questions about the prevalence of existing systems and practices, needs for and desired outcomes of manure treatment, and current levels of adoption of and satisfaction with treatment technology. As a farm operator and/or facility manager, your feedback is very important in helping us identify needs and advance technologies to better serve a modern swine farm.

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Maximizing Profitability of Manure Use

truck mounted spreader going over tarps to calibrate
Fertility is critical to a good crop, so we know not to ignore our crop fertility needs, but we don’t always think about ways we may be able to trim costs by better utilizing local nutrients. Manure has many benefits, including some related to soil health, but perhaps the most recognized benefit is that manure contains the nutrients our crops need. Manure isn’t always an inexpensive product, but it contains multiple nutrients that are highly valued when planning your fertility program.

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Using Pesticides Correctly

pesticide application

We are getting closer to fall which is a great time to work on improving your lawn. Late September and early October are great for spraying lawn weeds. When dealing with pests in your lawn, be sure to use pesticides correctly for the best success and for the least amount of damage to the environment.

Photo from the UNL Pesticide Safety Education Department

Pesticides

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Fall Turnover: A Physical Look at Lakes

In most of Nebraska, deep lakes will tend to stratify or form layers, especially during summer. This happens because the density of water changes as its temperature changes. During the summer, a temperature difference is established between the upper water and lower water in a lake. The upper layer of water, called the epilimnion, is warm.  This layer is about as deep as the sun can penetrate.  The deep layer of water, called the hypoliminion is made of cooler water.

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Scheduling the Last Few Irrigations of the Season Deserves More of Your Management Time Than Earlier Irrigations

Nebraska Irrigation Center Pivot
Scheduling the last few irrigations of the season deserves more of your management time than earlier irrigations because one must not only focus on keeping the crop wet enough to produce optimal yields, but also on using up enough of the stored soil water to lower the level to 40% of plant available water in the top four feet. This level will give about 2.4 inches of water storage room in sandy soils and about 5.5 inches in silt loam soils. Unfortunately, many irrigators leave the soil fairly wet with little to no storage room according to a recent study.

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Biological benefits of manure application on agricultural soils

Biological Benefits of Manure Application
Soil quality has been traditionally described in terms of chemical and physical properties; however, soil organisms play an important role in soil health. Some studies suggest that using manure as soil amendment could result in increased microbial biomass, which results in higher soil bacteria, fungi and higher microbial activity. Soil microbial activity is crucial for nutrient cycling, aggregate stability, fertility, and other soil characteristics leading to better crop productivity.

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Improving Soil Structure for Increased Infiltration and Water Holding Capacity

Compost

Plant roots grow in soil pore spaces. Pore spaces are also where oxygen is found. Just as plant roots cannot grow without water, they cannot grow without oxygen. Soil pore space is important to plant growth and efficient water use.

Soils with good structure have adequate pore space making them well drained while still having good water and nutrient holding capacity. Ideal soils have 50 percent soil particles and 50 percent pore space. An important aspect of good soil structure is soil aggregation.

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