Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972, 800-657-3864
St. Paul, Minn. -- As another winter of heavy snowfall gives way to warming temperatures, rapid melting and potential for flooding pose challenges for manure management among the more than 25,000 livestock farms in Minnesota. Many smaller operations that spread solid manure during winter must ensure that it doesn’t run off with rapid snowmelt flowing to ditches, streams and other waters.
Manure-contaminated runoff not only threatens water quality, it reduces the value of manure as a crop nutrient. “Manure applied to snow-covered or frozen soils during conditions of snow melt or rain on frozen soils can contribute the majority of the annual nutrient losses,” says Dennis Frame, University of Wisconsin-Extension. “There is a high potential for manure runoff this year based on current field conditions and typical weather patterns.”
If possible, farmers should refrain from spreading manure during periods of rapid snow melt. In an article posted at http://fyi.uwex.edu/discoveryfarms/2011/02/now-is-the-high-risk-period-for-manure-runoff/, Frame offers these suggestions:
-- During the period of active snow melt or when rain is predicted on frozen soils, producers who must haul manure from their barns should stack it in an area where the potential for runoff or groundwater infiltration is low.
-- Farmers who haul manure daily should work with their local conservation departments to identify safe stacking sites that have minimal potential to run off into either surface or groundwater.
-- Producers who have lots or facilities with bedded pack systems need to be cautious about spreading this manure during this high-risk period. Cleaning lots and getting the manure on the fields before the frost goes out can greatly increase the potential for nutrient losses.
-- Producers who must haul manure during this high-risk period should apply it to fields that are away from streams or lakes and have minimal risk of manure running to surface or groundwater.
Minnesota rules require a 300-foot setback from surface waters and open tile intakes for all manure spread onto frozen or snow-covered soil. To reduce the impact of manure applied to the surface of wet or frozen soil, avoid steeper slopes -- seek fields, or parts of fields with less than 6 percent slope for solid manure, 2 percent for liquid manure, or have greater than 30 percent crop residue. Tillage along contours creates furrows to help capture any potential runoff. Avoid flood or floodway zones. Keep application rate low enough to avoid runoff or ponding during application.
Livestock farms that experience manure runoff into waters of the state must report to the Minnesota Duty Officer by calling 800-422-0798, and take immediate action to reduce environmental impact, such as creating temporary berms to stop discharge, temporarily plugging culverts and drain tile intakes to prevent manure inflow, and soaking up liquid with absorbent material, such as hay, straw, cornstalks or wood shavings.
For more information, see the MPCA fact sheet, “Managing manure and land application during adverse weather conditions” at www.pca.state.mn.us/publications/wq-f8-46.pdf, contact your county or MPCA feedlot staff, (www.pca.state.mn.us/hot/feedlots.html#contacts.), or call the MPCA at 800-657-3864.