Dairy farmers are being urged to use extreme caution in spreading manure during the warm weather. Ed Odgers, head of the Conservation Engineering section at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, said it’s going to be “touch and go” during the warm, wet spell forecast for today and Friday. “There could be enough rain and thawing such that we could see some mass movement of water and therefore manure that might be applied on sloped surfaces, and near streams, said Odgers. “Extreme caution should be used in spreading of manure.”
Manure spread on fields prone to runoff can be carried into lakes, streams and rivers. “Conduits to groundwater are another concern,” said Odgers. “Sinkholes in some parts of the state, crevices or areas where the soil is very shallow over bedrock, those are areas that are real conducive . . . to allow things that are on the surface, potentially manure, to be carried down into the aquifers.”
If runoff occurs, farmers lose the manure as a valuable fertilizer and the manure can cause water quality problems that can include killing fish and contaminating drinking water wells. Odgers says County Land Conservation Departments can help find solutions for farmers who may be running out of storage capacity but want to avoid spreading during high risk conditions. Colder temperatures are expected to return across Wisconsin on Saturday.