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Jan. 23 2020 12:25 AM

As we approach the end of winter, farms across the country could soon be dealing with melting snow and heavy spring rains. These weather situations can create challenges when it comes to manure storage structures.

Ideally, a farm’s manure storage would have enough capacity to handle extra rainfall if it should occur. However, if you find yourself in a situation where space is limited, South Dakota State University’s Extension Water Resources Field Specialist David Kringen shared these practices for when emergency manure spreading is necessary.

  1. Look for opportunities to transfer to satellite storage or to a neighboring facility.
  2. Apply only on fields with a low risk of runoff as indicated in your approved nutrient management plan.
  3. Spread on fields that have crop residue such as cornstalks, cover crops, or hay crop residue as they are lower risk than fields that have already been tilled or only have corn silage stubble.
  4. Try to inject or incorporate manure where practical.
  5. Consider temporary barriers such as a small earthen dike or hay or straw bales at high-risk points.
  6. If applying on frozen soil, stay on fields with slopes of less than 4%.
  7. Do not apply on floodplains.
  8. Maximize set-back distances from streams, watershed areas, or fields with surface inlet areas.
  9. Take manure and soil samples and calculate a rate to make sure overapplication does not occur.
  10. Monitor soil conditions continuously to make sure soils do not become saturated.
  11. If applying to thawed soils, the tops of slopes are usually lower risk.
  12. Avoid application in fields where water runoff
  13. typically occurs.
  14. Work with the appropriate regulating agency to activate your emergency response application plan.

Kringen also encouraged farms to have an emergency response plan in place in case a storage spill, leak, or failure should occur. He said plans should contain phone numbers for the county sheriff and fire department, the local zoning officer, your engineer, and your state’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and Department of Natural Resources.


This article appeared in the February 2020 issue of Journal of Nutrient Management on page 14.
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