Manure spreaders in the Dakotas squeezed for time

Farm Forum

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A combination of long winters and more late-season crops in the Dakotas is presenting challenges for people in the manure-spreading business.

Manure spreaders typically start in the spring once the ground thaws, spreading the fertilizer until crops are planted. They pick up again after harvest, until the ground freezes again.

Farmers in the Dakotas have been planting more late-season crops such as corn and soybeans in recent years because of high market prices. That and recent long winters mean manure spreaders have had far less time to do their work, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

“In the past, when the wheat came off, then you were going,” said Jeff Strehlow, owner of Strehlow Manure Spreading Service, which works in southern North Dakota and northern South Dakota. “Now, they’re waiting until the corn comes off.”

Corn acres are down in both North Dakota and South Dakota this year, but only because farmers in both states planted a record soybean crop.

“It’s definitely changing the cropping pattern, and the work gets changed as well,” said Kendall Nichols, director of research programs for the North Dakota Soybean Council.

Dale Reindel, owner of Roughrider Manure Spreading in Dickinson, said that when manure spreaders can get in the field nowadays, it’s “just go, go, go.”