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Wet weather challenges for manure application

  • 10/17/2019 3:20:00 PM
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A wet fall and spring, followed by locally heavy rains may mean storage structures are nearly full. What’s a producer to do?

“Unless the weather comes through, many producers simply aren’t going to be in a position to wait for perfect conditions this fall,” says Trent Lambert, supervisor of DNR’s Mason City field office.

Locally saturated soils may leave few crop fields available. But DNR has specific options for confinement site producers and commercial applicators to consider—as they work to protect water quality and keep storage from overflowing.

“Producers faced a similar situation last year when some were forced to land apply manure on frozen and/or snow-covered ground,” Lambert said. “I think we would all agree this is the least desirable option, based upon the potential for negative water quality impacts and nitrogen loss.”

 “My first recommendation is to deal with storage issues sooner rather than later,” he added. “Ideally producers would wait until soil temperatures drop to 50 degrees to minimize nitrogen loss. But if manure storage is tight, producers may want to weigh the risks and advantages of applying at the first available opportunity instead of waiting.”

Some options to consider include transferring manure to another storage location or land applying on non-traditional crop acres, like hay ground. Other options might include partially emptying basins, hand-picking application fields, reducing rates until fields dry out or adjusting manure management plans for surface application.

Note: Several choices require changes in the manure management plan, or have requirements such as meeting separation distances. For more detailed recommendations developed last year, see Some Tips for Confinement Manure Application.

Producers with totally roofed facilities (confinements) must retain all manure between periods of application. So first, and most important, call the DNR field office to discuss site-specific alternatives.

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