Experiment Description

Study Goals

The La Broquerie Study is an interdisciplinary project in which a diverse group of researchers and industry partners are working to develop integrated sustainable livestock production systems. The goals of this project are:

  1. To identify a series of best management practices for the application of hog manure on forage land. This includes studying the impact of hog manure on:
    • forage yield
    • forage quality
    • animal performance
    • nutrient movement in soil and water
    • pathogen movement in soil and water
    • greenhouse gas production
    • energy use and efficiency
    • economics of the system
  2. To share our findings through tours and meetings at the research site.
  3. To help the livestock sector to adapt and grow in a sustainable fashion.
  4. To train students in the area of agricultural sustainability.

Specific research questions that are currently being addressed in the La Broquerie Study include:

  1. Is the rate of accumulation of plant-available phosphorus linear in a coarse-textured soil?
  2. Are nutrients and pathogens moving in manured grassland on coarse-textured soil?
  3. What is the effect of seasonal flooding on nutrient and pathogen movement to groundwater on coarse-textured soil?
  4. What is the effect of manure application method on nutrient accumulation, pathogen persistence, and odour emission on coarse-textured soil?

Research Site

The La Broquerie Study is located on 160 acres of land owned and operated by Hytek Limited, located near La Broquerie, Manitoba. The site has several features that make it suitable for this research project:

  • the soil is very coarse-textured
  • the site was nutrient deficient at the onset of the project
  • moisture levels are very high in the spring
  • the site is located very close to a manure source

It is important to note that research results regarding nutrient and pathogen movement are applicable to the coarse-textured (sandy) soil in which the trial was conducted. Similar investigations of persistence in soil and movement to groundwater of nutrients and pathogens are required for finer textured soils (e.g. loam or clay soils) in Manitoba.

Experiment Design

Parameters examined in the La Broquerie Study include:

  • timing of manure application
  • strategy for harvesting forage

These parameters are combined to make six treatments:

  • grazed paddocks, no manure (20 acres)
  • hayed paddocks, no manure (3 acres)
  • grazed paddocks, spring manure application at 110 lbs available N/ac (10 acres)
  • hayed paddocks, spring manure application at 110 lbs available N/ac (3 acres)
  • grazed paddocks, split manure application at 55 lbs available N /ac in both spring and fall (10 acres)
  • hayed paddocks, split manure application at 55 lbs available N /ac in both spring and fall (3 acres)

In 2007, hayed plots were split into two subplots to allow for evaluation of manure application method. In these plots, manure is applied with an Aerway manure application system either with tine operation or without tine operation (manure dribbled on soil surface).

Treatments are duplicated, so that each treatment is present on both sides of a central alleyway, resulting in a total of 12 separate paddocks covering 98 acres.

Data Collection Techniques

Forage yield – Nine quadrats per paddock are clipped monthly to estimate forage yield.

Forage quality – Hand plucked forage samples are collected to mimic cattle grazing and are analyzed for crude protein, energy, fibre and minerals.

Animal performance – Animals are weighed every 28 days to determine average daily gain. With this information, live-weight gain/acre and grazing days per acre can be calculated.

Soil quality – Soil samples are taken at 1-foot increments to 4 feet for tracking soil properties and nutrient concentrations. More detailed sampling to this depth was begun in 2008, including additional measures to prevent vertical contamination of samples between sample depths. In addition, soil samples are taken to 2 inches and 2 feet for plant available nutrients. These measurements will help determine if there is nutrient accumulation and/or movement in soil. Samples are also taken in bare earth areas around livestock watering and mineral stations to monitor nutrient dynamics in these locations.

Water quality – Wells were installed by Manitoba Water Stewardship in each of the 12 paddocks at the site at the outset of the study. Water samples are collected from these wells monthly and analyzed for nutrients. In 2007, additional "multi-level" monitoring wells were installed in selected plots. Some of these addiational wells are equipped with sensors that allow for continuous monitoring of groundwater level and water temperature. Samples from the multi-level monitoring wells will also help to determine the effect of seasonal flooding on nutrient and pathogen movement to groundwater.

Greenhouse gases:

  • Nitrous oxide – Nitrous oxide and methane from soil, dung, and urine patches have been measured using vented static chambers.
  • Methane – Methane from cattle has been measured using the sulfur hexafluoride technique.

Pathogen movement – The presence of potentially pathogenic bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli and Yersinia has been measured in the manure, soil, forage and water using standard culture, as well as DNA techniques. An examination of antibiotic resistance for seven major classes of organisms has also been explored.

Weather and soil conditions – A weather station was installed in 2006 to measure current weather conditions including air temperature and humidity, shortwave incoming radiation, rainfall, average wind speed and direction, as well as soil parameters such as surface moisture and soil temperature profile. Selected historical and real time data are available through the Manitoba Ag-Weather Program weather monitoring system (opens in a new window).

Odour emissions – Odour emission measurements began in 2008, using a flow-hood chamber designed by Dr. Qiang Zhang of Biosystems Engineering. We will compare odour emissions between Aerway and non-Aerway manure application methods.

Copyright and Liability

This page posted August 2007.
Last updated November 2009.