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As snow melts, watch where & how you're applying manure in your fields

As the temperatures slowly rise, so too should awareness of where and how you're applying manure on your farm fields.

"It is likely we will lose significant snow and with the snow loss comes a very high risk of losing the manure with the snow. Nutrient loss from runoff can be significant thereby rendering those manure nutrients useless for crop production and consequently causing stream and surface water pollution," says Iowa State University Extension agronomist Angela Rieck-Hinz. "If we are going to use manure as a nutrient source for crop production then we should consider protecting that nutrient investment at all costs by limiting the risk of nutrient runoff."

If you must apply manure in late winter, Rieck-Hinz suggests the following:

  • Consider applying on flat slopes.
  • Apply as far away from surface waters as possible.
  • Follow all required separation distances.
  • Avoid application on areas that drain to surface tile inlets.
  • Do not apply manure in a grassed waterway.
  • Wait until the snow melts.
  • Avoid application prior to predicted rainfall, snow of warming conditions that could cause snow to melt or runoff.

"Be aware that application of liquid manure from confinement feeding operations is prohibited on snow-covered and frozen ground from now until April 1 unless an emergency exemption applies or the manure can be appropriately incorporated into the soil," Rieck-Hinz adds. "Finally, if you participate in USDA-NRCS cost-share programs or receive technical assistance from USDA-NRCS, be aware that the 590 Nutrient Management Standard does not allow nutrient application if runoff potential exists unless you meet the emergency exemptions in the 590 standard. The 590 standard applies to all sources of nutrients, not just manure."

As the temperatures slowly rise, so too should awareness of where and how you're applying manure on your farm fields.

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