Early Freeze Prompts Manure Application Questions
Posted: 12/05/2013
SPENCER – Calls to DNR field offices about manure application on frozen ground are up this year, especially in northern Iowa.

The DNR is reminding producers they must meet separation distances if they are unable to inject or incorporate the manure.

“The ground froze earlier than usual, so a lot of barns did not have their manure pits emptied yet,” said Cindy Martens of the DNR’s Spencer field office.

Limits on applying manure on frozen ground kick in on Feb. 1, while limits on applying on snow-covered ground start Dec. 21, unless it’s an emergency. These limits apply to confinement (totally roofed) facilities with liquid manure that have 500 or more animal units.

The state law limiting application on frozen or snow-covered ground does not apply to manure from open feedlots or dry manure.

However, all producers must follow setbacks if surface applying manure.

“They can still go ahead and land apply as long as they maintain separation distances. Normally if they are injecting or incorporating the manure so that it’s placed under the soil, there is no separation distance. But, if they are surface applying, they need to be at least 200 feet from wells and water, 800 feet from some waters. And, liquid manure needs to be 750 feet from residences and other buildings,” she says.

Producers can check the separation distances that apply at www.iowadnr.gov/afo/ by looking under AFO Resources, Fact Sheets or at www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/LandStewardship/AnimalFeedingOperations/AFOResources/AFOFactsheets.aspx.

Construction permits for a few confinement producers require no surface application. Producers who have that condition in their permit should call the nearest DNR field office at www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/DNRStaffOffices/EnvironmentalFieldOffices.aspx.