URBANA—A variable-rate manure spreader offers promise to reduce odor and other problems associated with the application of livestock waste to cropland. The technology results from a research project led by Ted Funk, University of Illinois Extension bioengineering specialist.
“Direct application of manure on cropland is a common way of using livestock manure in the United States,” Funk said. “In many states, new regulations require farmers to be more accurately accountable for the amount of fertilizer that is being applied to fields.
“A host of developments has made it possible to apply correct amounts of nutrients on fields with good accuracy. However, there is very little technology available for regulating the rate of manure application to fields.”
Funk’s research was funded by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research’s (C-FAR) five-year $6 million project on swine odor and waste management. Funk and other researchers involved in the C-FAR project will present their findings Dec. 11-12 at the University of Illinois Pork Industry Conference in Champaign. Those interested in learning more about or attending the conference should contact Gilbert Hollis at (217) 333-0012 or e-mail at: email@example.com .
Funk built and tested a prototype variable rate manure spreader that is vacuum-loaded. Manure spreaders now in use lack the control systems that control the flow rate of the manure.
“The type of system we developed makes it possible for the operator to more accurately implement a nutrient management plan,” he said.
“An informal survey of swine producers performed as part of the project showed that a substantial proportion of farmers use the kind of slurry spreader tested in this research—but without the control—and that many would be interested in a reliable variable-rate system if it were available, practical, and economical.”
Funk said field tests with the variable flow technology applied to spreaders have greatly improved the reliability of the hardware and have helped identify ways to reduce the number of components in the system, thereby reducing potential breakdowns.
“We will conduct further tests this fall in order to produce a more complete set of recommendations for producers who wish to implement the variable-rate technology,” Funk said.