Surface application of manures leaves nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) susceptible to being lost in runoff, and N can also be lost to the atmosphere through ammonia (NH3) volatilization. Tillage immediately after surface application of manure moves manure nutrients under the soil surface, where they are less vulnerable to runoff and volatilization loss. Tillage, however, destroys soil structure, can lead to soil erosion, and is incompatible with forage and no-till systems. A variety of technologies are now available to place manure nutrients under the soil surface, but these are not widely used as surface broadcasting is cheap and long established as the standard method for land application of manure. This collection of papers includes agronomic, environmental, and economic assessments of subsurface manure application technologies, many of which clearly show benefits when compared with surface broadcasting. However, there remain significant gaps in our current knowledge, some related to the site-specific nature of technological performance, others related to the nascent and incomplete nature of the assessment process. Thus, while we know that we can improve land application of manure and the sustainability of farming systems with alternatives to surface broadcasting, many questions remain concerning which technologies work best for particular soils, manure types, and farming and cropping systems.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Environmental Engineering
- Water Science and Technology
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law