Calibration of Manure Spreaders

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Calibrating a manure spreader is a simple, easy management tool that can help producers use nutrients from animal manure efficiently and safely. Over-application or uneven application of manure wastes nutrients and increases the chance of ground or surface water contamination. By knowing the application rate of the manure spreader, correct amounts of manure can be applied to meet crop needs. The procedure takes less than an hour but can save hundreds of dollars through more efficient use of manure nutrient resources. Calibration, along with timely application to provide nutrients when crops can use them, helps ensure efficient and safe use of animal manures.
This publication primarily focuses on rear discharge, twin spinner spreaders common for poultry litter application in the southeast. The concepts discussed, however, do apply to other types of spreaders. Slight changes in the described procedures may be required to calibrate other types of spreaders.
Manure spreader calibration has three main goals:

  1. Determine application rate (tons per acre applied at a given setup and speed).
  2. Determine the effective swath width (how far apart each pass should be).
  3. Optimize the uniformity of distribution of manure.
John W. Worley
Paul E. Sumner
Thomas M. Bass
The University of Georgia