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Applied Research

Heather Neikirk
Extension Educator
Ohio State University Extension


Fertilizer management is both a source of concern and an opportunity for ongoing education in Ohio as high nutrient loads in water bodies have led to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and lesser lakes and waterways.  Many small farms produce both livestock and crops and typically include manure in their fertilization methods.   A county-wide on-farm research project known as the Stark Sustainable Soil Initiative began in 2020 with the objective of determining how farm management practices affect soil health and crop production on small farms located in Stark County, Ohio.  Of the twelve participating farms, five utilized manure or a mix of manure and synthetic fertilizer.   All farms had the same soil type (Canfield silt loam) but differed in the amounts of fertilizer applied as well as the crops produced.  Solid manure, including livestock bedding material, was the form of manure fertilizer used.  Soil samples were collected in September of 2020 and analyzed for nutrient content and soil health properties.  Soil samples were collected to a depth of twelve inches.  Two of the fields sampled had more soil test phosphorus (154 mg kg-1) than was recommended for crop production according to the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations.  Three of the fields had less soil test phosphorus (13 mg kg-1) than recommended for crop production.  All other soil health parameters including soil organic matter, bulk density, and wet aggregate stability were similar.  The two fields with high soil test phosphorus were located near livestock barns and resting areas.  Producers took advantage of this convenience rather than haul manure to a more distant location or a designated manure storage facility.  Identified fields with low soil test phosphorus also experienced an equipment issue where implements used for manure application did not have enough storage capacity for the high volume of manure to be applied resulting in multiple trips for manure application. These challenges coupled with a lack of soil and manure testing for nutrient content revealed both overapplication and underapplication of manure fertilizer.  Funding for this project was provided by the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: K.M. Bridges, H.A. Neikirk, R. Lal
  1. Bridges, K. Postdoctoral Scholar, Ohio State University, Dr. Rattan Lal Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio, 44646
  2. Neikirk, H. Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension Stark County, Ohio, 44646
  3. Lal, R. Professor, School of Environment and Natural Resources, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The Ohio State University, Ohio, 43210