State agriculture and natural resource officials are worried about a potential ‘perfect storm’ that could prevent farmers from properly managing manure in coming months.
Jim VandenBrook is a water quality specialist with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. He says cool weather prevented farmers from getting crops off the fields as fast as usual. A lot of fields are still not ready for manure applications. “A lot of the crops didn’t mature as quickly as we hoped they would, so a lot of them are still standing out in the field,” said VandenBrook. “That means you’ve got a lot of land that’s not available to spread manure on. It’s just sitting in storage.”
VandenBrook thinks some financially stressed farmers may be delaying emptying their storage structures as a cost saving measure. “It’s not a good time,” he said. “The costs of moving manure are just as important to the bottom line as any other cost on the farm. They are real costs, you can’t just ignore them.” Nearly half of Wisconsin’s dairy producers use storage and liquid manure spreading systems to efficiently handle and manage manure. Costs of such systems range from $100 to $250 per cow per year.
VandenBrook warns the potential consequences of putting off proper handling of manure can be far more devastating to the bottom line. Manure spills aren’t cheap to clean up, and there could be other costs associated. There are resources to help through county land conservation departments.
WCCN’s Paul Knoff submitted this report