Snow Will Keep Manure Off Fields As Spreading Ban Ends

in Feature/Newport

NEWPORT — To some, mostly farmers, manure spread on the field smells like money. To others, basically everyone else, it just smells. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, you most likely will not smell either tomorrow, even though the winter spreading ban will end.

The first day of April marks the end of the Winter Manure Spreading Ban imposed by the Accepted Agricultural Practice Regulations (AAPs). The continued presence of snow pack on farm fields will present a challenge to farmers who wish to start spreading manure as soon as the ban is over.

The AAPs require that all agricultural wastes be managed in order to prevent adverse impacts to water quality. That means that while it is legal to spread manure once the winter ban is over, manure must still be applied in a way that does not result in runoff of manure to surface water or across property boundaries. Once the snow begins to melt, manure can be carried away to the low points in the landscape.

To prepare for spring planting, farmers begin emptying their manure storage tanks. It’s the first step in the process of growing the crops that will sustain the farm for the next year. Most dairy farms have the capacity to store manure for about six months in a pit or tank that prevents it from leaching into the ground. In the spring and fall these pits get emptied out and spread on the fields.

To help farmers remain in compliance with the AAPs, the Agency of Agriculture strongly recommends the following:

1) If you still have room in your manure pit, wait until snow is off the fields before you spread manure.

2) If you must spread manure before snow is off the fields, choose fields that are relatively flat and far away from rivers and streams.

3) If you must spread on fields near rivers and streams, do not apply manure within 150 feet of the top of the bank.

4) If you are spreading in fields with ditches, do not apply manure within 150 feet of the ditch.

5) Do not apply manure within 100 feet of property lines and roads.

6) Utilize reduced rates of application.

If farmers observe these added safety precautions while land applying manure in the presence of snow, they will help to minimize any runoff of manure that could occur during snow melt. The Agency urges all those considering applying manure at this time of year to operate with the utmost of care so that water quality is best protected.

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