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That's the goal of the Gutshall's double-duty tool to inject-sidedress hog manure and interseed cover crops beneath the corn canopy.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

April 25, 2016

2 Min Read

At last summer’s North American Manure Expo near Chambersburg, Pa., farmers and custom operators were fascinated with the potential of a cobbled-together machine that can inject/sidedress hog manure and interseed cover crops in one pass – with little surface residue disturbance. It was designed by Virgil Gutshall, Jr. and his father Virgil, Sr., of Blaine, Pa.

The Gutshalls believe this minimum-till tool can maximize soil and water conservation, plus boost corn yields by 10 to 15 bushels an acre if Ohio State University field trial results are any measure. Heading into Beaver Ridge Farm’s second season of experimentation, they’re making a minor change in their six-row, no-till manure injector/cover crop seeder.

To what end? Ohio State University research suggests as much as a 20-bushel corn yield response. “Realistically, we’re looking for a 10- to 15-bushel response,” says Virgil Jr. 

The build and the why
The Houle 4,250-gallon tank manure spreader rolls on 18-inch tires spaced for 30-inch zone-tilled corn rows. “Larger 23-inch tires would be too tight,” adds the younger Gutshall.

The toolbar bolted on back is equipped with five Yetter Avenger manure injectors to incorporate liquid hog manure 4 inches deep “near the corn root zone, yet deep enough to not burn the cover crop combination of annual ryegrass, crimson clover and tillage radish emerging under the corn canopy,” points out Virgil, Sr. “The cover crop roots increase beneficial soil microbes and help improve nutrient efficiency,” he adds.

A Gandy air seeder mounted atop the toolbar broadcasts cover crop seeds behind the injectors. Drag chains used last year are being replaced by spring-tensioned rolling baskets to improve seed incorporation.

The rig is pulled by a John Deere 7830 rolling on duals to reduce soil compaction and straddle the 30-inch rows. “There’s no room for wandering,” acknowledges Virgil, Jr. Auto-steer, teamed with the GPS/GLONASS (Star Fire 3000) satellite receiver provides SF1 guidance.

A Greenstar 3-2630 monitor links to a Krohne flow meter controller on the spreader. It regulates liquid flow being applied based on soil tests, manure analysis and crop requirements. The information is transferred to the farm office computer for Beaver Ridge’s nutrient management and conservation plans.

Grass headlands, combined with other environmentally-friendly conservation practices, keep the farm in conservation compliance on the Sherman’s Creek Watershed. But the Gutshalls don’t believe their set-up – even with 18-inch tires – would trail well enough for use on their hillsides and contours. More design tinkering is to come.

Pennsylvania’s Resource Enhancement and Protection program cost-shared part of the Gutshall’s project. In 2008, they also installed a methane digester and a decanter centrifuge manure separator to remove about 72% of the phosphorus plus solids for composting and later sale an organic soil enhancer.

P removal helps make their liquid hog manure a better match for their nutrient management plan. This spring, the involved machine dealers, T.A. Seeds, and a Chesapeake Bay Program manager plan to monitor the project.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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