It’s been cold and wet so far this October, delaying crop harvest. This makes it challenging to get manure applied in a timely fashion and for liquid manures there is a risk of overflow from storage basins. The following is a list of possible things you can do to limit the environmental impact of manure application during wet conditions.

Instead of land applying:

  • Consider temporary stockpiling for solid manures until field conditions are better. MPCA rules on stockpiling can be found here.
  • For liquid manure, you may want to pump the basin partially to avoid overflow, land applying only what is necessary (see tips below) or finding a different storage space (make sure it is permitted!). Then apply the remaining manure later in the fall under better conditions, or in the spring. Try to avoid winter application (on frozen or snow-covered soils) if possible.

Tips for land application in wet conditions:

  • Start first in the parts of the fields that have adequately dried, like higher ground.
  • For better access in wet fields, fill tankers or spreaders less than full capacity to reduce the weight of the equipment and avoid soil compaction
  • Perform tillage along contours to create furrows that will capture any manure moving down slope
  • For liquid manure, keep application rates low enough to avoid ponding or runoff during application
  • Avoid areas with slopes greater than 6 percent for solid manures and 2 percent for liquid manures
  • Stay 300 feet away from sensitive features like waterways and tile intakes. Also avoid flood-prone areas.

What to do if there has been a spill from a storage basin or during land application:

  • Call the State Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798
  • Take immediate action to limit environmental impacts:
    • Create temporary berms or dams to stop the spill from moving
    • Plug culverts and tile intakes temporarily to keep manure from flowing in
    • Soak up liquid with something absorbent, like straw, wood shavings, or hay

Remember that producers and commercial manure haulers need to work together and be as flexible as possible in these conditions. Consider looking in your area for a neighbor that has suitable fields for land application or approved manure storage space that can take some of your excess manure. There are some things to avoid though, including modifying or constructing a new basin without approval from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and storing manure in unpermitted basins. For more information about your options or help with understanding local ordinances, contact your County Feedlot Officer.

By: Melissa Wilson, Extension Specialist

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Support for this project was provided in part by the Agricultural Fertilizer Research & Education Council (AFREC).
Source: University of Minnesota Extension: Minnesota Crop News