Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forum › Equipment Category › Equipment › Fertility Management Question › Reply To: Fertility Management Question
With high Phosphorus in our fields, I have opted to use our good horse and steer manure on some neglected distant hay fields. Our horse drawn spreader has been broken for a while now and we are still trying to get parts, so we will be using a tractor to spread the manure. With great distances to cover it will be easier on the horses and less risk of getting into a traffic problem with 4 abreast.
I hope, in the future, to purchase a ground drive cyclone type spreader for broadcasting seed and fertilizer, and a drop spreader for depositing lime and rock dusts on small acreage. Until then my best option for broad application is my Earthway hand spinner or the tractor spinner.
Right now bagged lime and sul-po-mag are the doctors major orders, but I do employ the animals for 2 precision fertilizing tasks. I have a dry box ground driven fertilizer attachment for applying granular amendments. This mounts onto my riding cultivator and I am able to apply at 4 different rates. It works great for heavy feeding crops like cabbage and onions, I use a little Kreher’s poultry manure for this.
The other animal drawn tool that I have is a 50 gallon sprayer. With 15′ of boom width I can cover 5 rows at a time, but I have the ability to shut of specific rows if needed. My idea behind this is to do a lot of folliar feeding of the crops. The theory that people should eat more smaller meals appeals to the way that I manage my crop fertility. With a less than ideal sandy soil I don’t have a lot of capacity to hold nutrients, so rather than a lot of broadcasted amendments that could leach away I will be giving a few small liquid applications during the season. I will be relying a good deal on decaying cover crop matter for a good amount of my fertility, but what I lack in N and micro-nutrients should be manageable with my folliar feeding. I also us the sprayer to apply microbes to my soil and plants, with the hopes that as my soil improves so will my beneficial microbe population. My steers work best for this tool, because in order to apply the desired 40 gallons of water+amendments per acre, they need to walk rather slow and our steers excel at this verses some of our quick horses. I give David Fisher full credit for the sprayer idea 🙂
Because of my P problem, I like to use cover crops and non-P minerals for fertility. While I work on getting the soil in better shape, the side-dresser on the cultivator, and the sprayer come in handy to fill in the gaps of my plants needs.
In the future when we have exported some of our extra P, I look forward to cycling our manure back onto our own land.