By Matt Reese
The wet weather has caused problems in nearly every aspect of Ohio agriculture last year. And while harvest is mostly wrapped up around the state, the wet weather continues to haunt livestock producers who had little, if any, opportunity to apply manure this fall due to the incessant rains.
“The record setting rains of 2011 have definitely been a challenge for Ohio farmers,” said Larry Antosch, senior director of policy development and environmental policy for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. “I have heard some concerns from our field staff in northeast Ohio related to the difficulties of getting manure on the ground due to the record setting wet conditions.”
In response to the unique challenges in 2011, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Soil and Water Conservation has developed an Emergency Liquid Manure Plan based upon Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Standard 663.
“OFBF Policy support the farmers’ right to haul manure as long as they follow proper setbacks and guidelines in NRCS Standard 633. The guidance and recommendations outlined in NRCS Standard 633 are protective of the environment and reduce the risk of pollution,” Antosch said. “The goal of this ODNR initiative is to decrease the possibility of a lagoon overflowing or, worse case, failing. We are encouraged by the recent actions taken by ODNR-DSWR to help farmers during this difficult and challenging time. The opportunity to develop and implement an approved emergency liquid manure application plan will help prevent a possible environmental disaster if a manure storage lagoon should happen to overtop or fail.”
In a recent memo, Ted Lozier, chief ODNR Division of Soil and Water Conservation, outlined the emergency measures.
“The Division of Soil and Water Resources staff has been made aware of several situations where livestock facilities are concerned there will not be adequate storage to endure the winter months. For this reasoning, ODNR staff has developed an Emergency Liquid Manure Application Plan template for livestock producers to utilize,” Lozier said. “It is not ODNR’s intent to recommend widespread winter application of manure, but where these applications are inevitable, we think the Emergency Liquid Manure Application Plan is a means to minimize the risk of pollution.”
Key points from the plan include:
• If manure application becomes necessary on frozen or snow covered soils (winter applications), only limited quantities of manure shall be applied to address waste storage limitations until non-frozen soils and/or suitable conditions are available for manure application.
• There is a maximum application rate limited to 5,000 gallons per acre.
• Application must be made on land with at least 90% surface residue cover (hay or pasture field, corn grain with residue remaining after harvest).
• The application cannot be applied on more than 20 contiguous acres. Contiguous areas for application are to be separated by a break of at least 200 feet.
• Utilize areas for manure application furthest from streams, ditches, waterways, surface water, etc (areas that present the least runoff potential and are furthest from surface water).
• Use a minimum setback distance of 200 feet from all surface water features.
• The manure must be applied in alternating strips 60 to 200 feet wide generally on the contour in fields with slopes greater than 6%.
Dave White, executive director of the Ohio Livestock Coalition, praised the plan and encourages livestock producers to consider it.
“We want to thank the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for developing a plan that will hopefully help livestock producers address a critical issue,” White said. “We encourage livestock producers to follow the plan as outlined by the
Division. Doing so will not only help them address a critical need, but
protect the environment and precious natural resources.”
If implementing this measure, producers should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District to compile the plan and necessary maps. The plan is available at http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/tabid/21817/Default.aspx.