Nutrient application on farms and the 4Rs
Learn about applying manure and nutrients at the right rate, right time and the right place. This technical information is for Ontario producers.
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Timing matters when it comes to applying manure and other nutrients.
Phosphorus in manure and other nutrients can be lost in runoff when applied at the wrong time, meaning a loss of nutrients for you and a greater risk to the environment (such as algal blooms and reduced water quality in our Great Lakes). This includes when it is applied:
- on frozen and snow-covered ground
- right before it rains
- when soil is saturated
Applying at the right time is the right thing to do.
4R approach to nutrient stewardship
Applying the right product at the right rate, at the right time and the right place.
Fertilizer Canada has implemented the 4R Nutrient Stewardship in partnership with local fertilizer supply businesses.
Fertilizer is an important input for farmers providing nutrients to plants that are not readily available in the soil, helping farmers to foster plant growth and increase yields. 4R Nutrient Stewardship balances farmer, industry and government goals to improve on-farm economics, crop productivity and fertilizer efficiency while benefiting the environment.
Some practical steps to help implement the 4Rs on your farm include:
- soil testing fields regularly (once every 3 to 5 years) and adjusting fertilizer, manure and NASM applications according to soil test results and the cropping program for the fields
- having a diverse crop rotation to provide more opportunities for manure applications at various times of the year, such as the spring before the planting of annual crops, in the summer after hay and wheat harvest and the fall after corn and soybean harvest
- having hay fields and fields with cover crops in the fall help to reduce the losses of the nutrients during the non-growing season from November to April
- having an additional manure storage capacity of above 240 days of capacity on livestock farms to allow greater flexibility with manure application if weather conditions are unfavourable or if equipment or custom applicators are not available
There are many ways to manage your nutrients without spreading at the wrong time.
Visit the nutrient management site for resources to help you determine what you can do for your operation.
Contact a nutrient management consultant for help with nutrient management planning and to see what alternatives will work for your operation.