Wisconsin Gives Help Judging the Risk of Manure Runoff
Given the extremely wet fall, Wisconsin farmers have one more tool to help them avoid the risk of manure runoff into waterways.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is providing an on-line digital map that projects the potential for runoff from rainfall over the next five days or from snowmelt over the next 10. See the map here. The site provides these predictions for each of 216 National Weather Service basins in the state. The basins average an area of 300 square miles, so the predictions are for expected conditions across each and not for specific fields within the basin.
Even so, the maps can alert farmers to potential problems following rain events or after a warm spell in winter or spring.
“We discourage spreading manure during high-risk runoff times, but if farmers must do so because of a lack of storage space, they need to avoid high-risk fields,” says Richard Castelnuovo, chief of nutrient management and water quality for DATCP.
DATCP officials encourage farmers to work with their crop consultants to target fields that have the least potential for runoff. Stacking solid manure is an option, but it should be done away from lakes and rivers, drinking wells and areas of sinkholes and exposed bedrock. Farmers should also have emergency plans in place in case of manure spills or runoff.