Thursday, March 31, 2011

Manure on Frozen Ground?

The low temperatures this past week has motivated manure handlers to get busy and start spreading on frozen ground.  It was an opportunity to get some work done and reduce risk of compaction. 
The Nutrient Management Act in Ontario is very specific with respect to applying liquid manure on frozen ground.  It is NOT ALLOWED.  Does this mean you are automatically in trouble if the neighbour cries foul and calls the MOE?  NO. 
The only thing that gets manure handlers in real trouble in this province is if their practices cause an "adverse effect".  Or in other words "pollute surface water or ground water". 
There is one very good reason for liquid manure to not be spread on frozen soil.  There is no guarantee where that manure will go after it is appllied.  The risk of run-off is too great. 
However, can we apply manure on frozen ground and reduce the run-off risk?  Yes. 
1.Pick alfalfa fields or corn stalks and stay on the level sections with slopes less than 2-3%.  The crop residue will help trap the liquid and keep it in place.  Staying off slopes is obvious.
2.Keep rates below 3500 gal/acre. 
3.Keep well back of catch basins and drop inlets.  Do not apply to a field that borders an open ditch.
4.Keep track of weather/temperature conditions after application. This is important every time we apply manure.
The point I make to all my nutrient managment clients is nobody has the right to pollute.  This applies to everyone, including those livestock operations who are not captured by the Nutrient Management Act.  

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