Spreading manure on farm fields from now until the ground thaws comes with a very high risk of runoff, warns Dennis Frame, co-director of the University of Wisconsin-Discovery Farms Program.
Studies from Discovery Farms cooperating farms indicate that manure applied to snow-covered and/or frozen soils during conditions of snowmelt or rain can contribute the majority of the annual nutrient losses, says Frame.
He lists these recommendations for reducing the risk of manure runoff as temperatures moderate:
“We are saying that there is a high potential for manure runoff this year based on the current field conditions and typical weather patterns,” says Frame. “This doesn’t mean it will happen. If temperatures rise slowly, cloudy days or the lack of rain can greatly reduce the chance of runoff. Producers need to listen to the weather forecast and make good management decisions. Good decisions can reduce the risk of runoff events and continue to protect our farms and our water.”
For more information about manure runoff or UW-Discovery Farms, visit www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org.