Current Progressive Dairyman digital edition

Custom manure applicator keeps its focus on 4 areas

Tim Wood for Progressive Dairyman Published on 06 September 2017
manure spreader

Attention to detail is critical when it comes to land application of manure. M & W Farm Supply LLC’s 12 full-time employees take their work seriously and understand that one wrong move could create a serious problem. These are the four main areas we focus on when it comes to land application:

1. Every job starts with a good map. Maps are created from custom software using USDA common land units (CLU). It includes the customer’s name, address and phone number; acres to be applied; rate per acre; total tons needed; and written directions to the field. Even after the map is generated, a physical inspection of the field has to be made to determine the required setbacks including houses, wells, waterways and tile blowouts. At the same time, truck routes can be revised to avoid light bridges and tight turns can be identified.



2. State-of-the-art equipment helps to keep our applicators out of trouble. We use German Tebbe spreaders with electronic scales and Integra controllers. Each machine is variable rate technology (VRT) capable and the requests for variable rate applications are increasing each year. Hydraulic shields allow the operators to direct the pattern along sensitive areas while maintaining good coverage. M & W uses Case IH 550 hp and 580 hp Quadtrac tractors, and the spreaders are steerable tri-axles with floatation tires. Each unit is designed to minimize compaction.

3. The paper trail for manure application kills a lot of trees, but it is an important part of the process. It starts with a valid soil test within the past three years to ensure that state rules for phosphorus applications are followed. In Ohio, any P test over 150 ppm or 300 pounds per acre can’t legally be spread with manure. Total applied nutrient calculations by field are kept as well. Operators record the field conditions, as well as scale readings, and create an applied map as they travel across the field.

4. One big component in our daily work is weather. In Ohio’s efforts to protect Lake Erie, the legislature created Senate Bill 1 (SB1), which governs when fertilizer and manure can be applied in 27 northwest Ohio counties. If there is a prediction of a 50 percent chance of greater than a half inch of rain in the next 24 hours for the area to be applied, our spreaders have to move to another location or sit idle. The Ohio Department of Agriculture prefers we reference the daily NOAA forecast. While the weather is seldom predictable, the forecast has saved the day on occasion when a pop-up storm sneaks up on you. In addition, SB1 bans manure application on snow covered or frozen ground. In an already limited spring and fall window, both of these measures can present challenges.

Animal waste is a valuable natural resource, and when handled with care, it completes the circle of life in ways that commercial fertilizer can’t compete. The poultry manure we work with contains 1,100 to 1,200 pounds of organic material and billions of microbes per ton. In addition to N, P and K, secondary and micronutrients from manure are an added bonus.

Attention to detail, conscientious employees and a whole lot of livestock will keep this operation in business for years to come.  end mark


Tim Wood is a manager at M & W Farm Supply LLC in New Bloomington, Ohio. This custom applicator opened its doors in 2013 and last year spread 284,000,000 pounds of poultry litter on some 69,000 acres in central Ohio. In its four years of operation, M & W has yet to have an Ohio Department of Agriculture application violation.

PHOTO: M & W Farm Supply LLC relies on its equipment with electronic scales and automatic controllers to help their employees to maintain accuracy in application rates. Photo courtesy of M & W Farm Supply LLC.

Before commenting on our articles, please note our Terms for Commenting.