Action Synopsis: Soil Fertility About Actions

Change the timing of manure application

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Source countries

Key messages

One controlled, randomized, replicated site comparison study from the UK found less nitrate was lost from the soil when manure application was delayed from autumn until December or January.

SOIL TYPE COVERED: sandy-loam.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A controlled, randomized, replicated site comparison study in 1990-1994 on sandy-loam in the UK (Beckwith et al. 1998) found greater nitrate losses following manure application in September-November (23.3 and 12.4 mg N/l lost at the two study sites, respectively), but applications in December or January were no different to the untreated control (< 0.5 mg N/l lost). Two manure treatments were tested at each site. Pig/cattle slurry and farmyard cattle manure  were tested at a Shropshire site and poultry litter and farmyard manure were tested at a Nottinghamshire site.. Manures were applied at 200 kg N/ha monthly between September and January to overwinter fallow or onto winter rye Secale cereale. Both sites also had an untreated control. An extra treatment was included to test the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide, which was applied at 20 l/ha. All treatments were replicated three times at both sites. Plots were 12 x 4 m and 15 x 4 m at the Shropshire and Nottinghamshire sites respectively.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Key, G., Whitfield, M., Dicks, L.V., Sutherland, W.J. & Bardgett, R.D. (2018) Enhancing Soil Fertility. Pages 583-604 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, N. Ockendon, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2018. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

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Soil Fertility

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Soil Fertility
What Works in Conservation

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