Journal of the NACAA
ISSN 2158-9429
Volume 12, Issue 2 - December, 2019

Impact of a Drag Hose on Grain Yield of Corn

Arnold, G. , Extension Agent, ANR, Ohhio State University Extension

ABSTRACT

The application of liquid livestock manure to corn fields using a drag hose is a practice being rapidly adopted in the Midwest as a method of applying manure nutrients to a growing crop. Applying manure after the crop has been planted, or even after emergence, opens a window of additional time when manure can be moved from storage facilities to fields. Also, a greater amount of the manure nitrogen can be utilized by the growing crop. A six-inch diameter manure drag hose, filled with water, was dragged across emerged corn from stages V1 to V5 over five crop seasons to determine what damage the drag hose did to the plant population and yield of the corn. Drag hose treatments occurred as the corn reached the planned growth stages. Over the five-year study, plant populations and corn yield were negatively affected by drag hose treatments only at the V5 stage.


Introduction

 

Livestock producers and commercial manure applicators are adopting the practice of applying liquid swine, beef, and dairy manure to emerged corn using a drag hose. Research conducted in Ontario in 2008 indicated side-dress applications of liquid hog manure appeared able to substitute for UAN (Urea Ammonium Nitrate) in supplying corn nitrogen requirements when using a manure tanker and subsurface application toolbar (Deen, Roy, and Stewart, 2008). Research conducted in Ohio also showed applying liquid manure to emerged corn using a manure tanker provided similar yields compared to commercial fertilizer (Arnold et al., 2017). Additional Ohio research has also shown using a drag hose to subsurface apply manure to emerged corn produces yields comparable to commercial fertilizer (Arnold, Custer, and Richer, 2018).

A drag hose manure application system consists of main hose, from eight to 10 inches in diameter, reaching from the manure storage structure to the corn field. In the corn field, a drag hose, five to six inches in diameter, is dragged across the field while manure is being pumped through the hose to the target field by one or more pumps. Applying manure to a growing corn crop adds additional days to the normal manure application window and allows manure nutrients to be applied closer to the time when the crop can utilize the nutrients. Using a drag hose to subsurface apply manure to corn fields is more efficient and less of a soil compaction concern compared to using a manure tanker.

The questions this study addressed were: 1) at what stage of growth would the drag hose begin to damage corn plant stand populations; and 2) at what corn growth stage would grain yields be reduced from damage by the drag hose. Knowing these answers can help livestock producers and commercial manure applicators make informed decisions when using a drag hose to apply liquid manure to an emerged corn field.

 

Methods

 

This study was designed to determine the impact to plant population and yield of dragging a six-inch diameter manure drag hose, filled with water, across corn plots at stages V1, V2, V3, V4, and V5. For this study, the V1 stage of corn growth was when the first leaf that emerged from the ground formed a leaf collar. Each year the plots were planted in a randomized block design. Each plot was 10 feet wide and 90 feet long with four replications.

There was a 30-foot grassed border between the replications. Four rows of corn were flattened with each pass of the drag hose and only the middle two rows were counted for plant populations and harvested for yield. The ends of all treatments were trimmed off to assure all were of equal length when harvested.

The six-inch diameter drag hose was chosen as it’s the most common size currently used by livestock producers and commercial manure applicators in northwest Ohio. The corn plots were planted in 30-inch rows when fields were suitable in each of the five years of the study. Planting populations were approximately 34,000 seeds per acre, but plant stands varied each year according to soil conditions and emergence.

At the designated growth stages, the plots were dragged twice, going in opposite directions, to maximize damage from the drag hose. Plots were dragged during the morning hours when possible, so the plants were at their most rigid and brittle. Treatments were no drag hose, drag hose at V1, drag hose at V2, drag hose at V3, drag hose at V4, and drag hose at V5.

All treatments received 200 pounds of nitrogen as 28% UAN at the V2 stage. The plots did not receive row-starter fertilizer. Stand counts were conducted late in the grain fill period of growth. In the V5 treatments where drag hose damage was easily observed, a corn plant was counted if it had a reasonably normal ear. Corn plants that had two or more suckers in place of the normal stalk, were not counted as viable plants. These suckers had tiny ears that yielded almost no grain. There were occasional corn plants in the V5 treatments that had no ear and these were also not considered viable plants. Plots were harvested with a two-row university combine that recorded moisture and yield data.

 

Figure 1. Six inch drag hose used to flatten corn plants.

 

The soil type was Hoytville Silty Clay. The soil phosphorus level (Bray P1) was 36ppm and the potash level was 152ppm. The plots were minimum tillage, and in a corn-soybean rotation. The minimum tillage allowed for a firm seedbed and very little soil was scoured when the hose was dragged through the treatments. The tractor dragging the hose traveled at approximately four miles per hour.

 

Results

 

Corn stand population data is reported in Table 1. There was no statistical difference between plant populations that were not dragged with the manure hose and the plant populations where the hose was dragged up to and including the V4 stage of growth. There was a statistically significant drop in plant population at the V5 stage of growth.  As mentioned above, a corn plant was counted if it had a reasonably normal ear, but not counted if two or more suckers were present in place of the normal stalk.

 

Figure 2. Corn at the V5 stage broken off by the drag hose.

 

Corn plants with suckers were common at the V5 stage of growth. Approximately one out of every three of the original corn plants was damaged at the V5 stage by the drag hose treatment. At that stage, many plants were entirely broken off during the drag hose process. The V5 stage corn plants that were broken off ended up much shorter than other plants in the plot. There was also an increase in weed pressure due to the missing canopy.

 

Figure 3. Normal corn plants replaced by suckers due to drag hose damage at the V5 stage.

 

Table 1. Corn plant population counts. Subscript letters a and b indicate yields that year were statistically different using ANOVA at 0.10 probability level.

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

5-year ave.

No drag hose

30,166a

31,850a

28,625a

35,125a

30,750a

31,303

V1

29,660a

31,750a

28,625a

35,125a

31,500a

31,332

V2

30,166a

32,000a

28,500a

34,750a

30,750a

31,233

V3

28,933a

31,375a

29,250a

34,875a

29,625a

30,812

V4

29,264a

31,375a

27,500a

33,750a

28,750a

30,074

V5

15,366b

23,500b

16,000b

25,250b

18,250b

19,673

LSD(0.10)

2,689.98

2,438.67

2,954.57

3,620.92

2,746.23

 

CV

6.87

6.32

6.91

7.44

6.45

 

 

 

Corn plants with suckers were common at the V5 stage of growth. Approximately one out of every three of the original corn plants was damaged at the V5 stage by the drag hose treatment. At that stage, many plants were entirely broken off during the drag hose process. The V5 stage corn plants that were broken off ended up much shorter than other plants in the plot. There was also an increase in weed pressure due to the missing canopy.

 

Table 2. Corn Yield Results. Subscript letters a and b indicate yields that year were statistically different using ANOVA at 0.10 probability level.

Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Corn Drag Hose Study

 

Yield in Bushels per Acre

 

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

5-year ave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No drag hose

145.1a

167.2a

145.1a

164.5a

217.8a

167.9

V1

154.3a

166.1a

149.5a

161.5a

218.0a

169.9

V2

157.9a

165.3a

141.2a

159.6a

217.7a

168.3

V3

153.9a

172.3a

144.4a

172.1a

215.6a

171.9

V4

149.7a

164.3a

152.1a

166.5a

209.1a

168.4

V5

109.8b

123.0b

126.3b

122.2b

132.8b

122.9

LSD (0.10)

10.99

9.74

8.73

14.89

12.13

 

CV

6.24

5.94

5.11

6.46

7.18

 

 

 

Table 3. Planting and crop growth data

 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Corn planting date

April 25

May 15

April 20

June 1

May 18

Normal precipitation (inches)

23.5

23.3

23.3

23.3

23.3

Actual precipitation (inches)

21.0

32.6

16.5

23.6

15.4

Historical average temp

65.7

65.7

65.7

65.7

65.7

Actual average temp

65.3

65.3

66.2

67.2

65.9

Total growing degree days

2,876

3,006

3,272

2,960

3,108

 

 

Discussion

 

In this study corn was flattened with a drag hose at stages V1 through V4 with no statistical reduction in plant population or yield. At the V5 stage, both plant stands and grain yield were significantly reduced. At this stage there was clear visual evidence of corn plants snapping off from the force of the drag hose. Approximately one third of the plants were broken off and these plants did not completely recover to produce a reasonable ear.

This data should give livestock producers and commercial manure applicators confidence in what corn growth stage a six-inch drag hose can be used to side-dress corn with liquid livestock manure. This provides a new window of time in late May and early June where manure could be applied to a growing crop and capture more of the manure nutrients.

The nitrogen in liquid swine manure is primarily in the ammonium form. This form is readily available for crop growth. The subsurface application of manure to newly planted or emerged corn can supply the side-dress nitrogen needs of the corn crop. This is an environmentally friendly window to utilize swine manure and can save livestock producers money by not having to purchase commercial nitrogen side-dress fertilizer.

The drag hose used in this study was six inches in diameter. The data could possibly change if the drag hose was smaller or larger in diameter. It is important to have a firm seedbed when using a drag hose in a corn field. No-till, conservation tillage, cover crops, and stale seedbeds all help provide a firm seedbed. Loamy soils that are deep tilled prior to planting corn are not good candidates for use of a drag hose. The weight of the drag hose can scour the soft ground and result in corn being dislodged from the seedbed or buried deeper by the loose soil.

 

Literature Cited

 

Deen, W., Roy, A., and Stewart, G. (2008). A Comparison of Side-dressed Liquid Hog Manure to Urea Ammonium Nitrate in Corn. Online. Crop Management doi:10.1094/CM-2008-1103-01-RS

Arnold, G., Richer, E., Custer, S., Noggle, S., and Stachler, J. (2017). On-Farm Plot Results from Sidedressing Corn with Liquid Livestock Manure Using a Tanker. Journal of the NACAA, 10(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacaa.com/journal/index.php?jid=777

Arnold, G., Custer, S., and Richer, E. (2018). Sidedressing Emerged Corn with Liquid Swine Manure Using a Drag Hose. Journal of the NACAA, 11(2). Retrieved from https://www.nacaa.com/journal/index.php?jid=900