DARKE COUNTY — As part of Darke Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) commitment to outreach on the Ohio agricultural pollution abatement program, we are continuing our series of monthly articles on agricultural topics. Be on the lookout for future columns from Darke SWCD staff on manure storage, cover crops, nutrient management plans and other related topics. All articles will be released to local media and available online at www.darkeswcd.com.
Darke SWCD staff would like to engage the county in a conversation on environmental stewardship. This series of articles will provide farmers with information to help them protect water quality. Additionally non-farming community members can learn what farmers are doing and can do to protect water quality in our lakes, rivers and streams. This month’s article focuses on best management practices for summer manure applications and stockpiling.
Darke SWCD encourages Darke County producers to use caution when applying manure this summer. All livestock producers, manure applicators, and owners or operators of farms receiving manure have the responsibility to protect water quality by following the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Nutrient Management Practice Standard 590, available at www.darkeswcd.com.
Recent weather conditions make it hard to imagine dry, cracking soil. However, if you plan to apply liquid manure to tiled fields this summer, please use caution — and light tillage. When liquid wastes are applied to fields with subsurface tile, the liquid can follow soil cracks and worm holes directly to the tile. Avoid a potential tile discharge of manure and use tillage prior to liquid manure application. A tillage tool that mixes the top 3-5 inches of soil can disrupt or close preferential flow paths (e.g., worm holes, cracks, root channels) in the soil and allow for better adsorption of liquid manures. For perennial crops or continuous no-till fields where tillage is not an option, plug all tile outlets draining the application area prior to application. If you don’t own tile plugs, and would like to borrow some, please contact Darke SWCD at 937-548-1752.
If you are stockpiling manure this summer, please make the following considerations before placing piles. Select a stockpiling site with deep, non-sloping soils away from where water pools or flows. Additionally, observe the following recommended minimum setback distances for manure stockpiles:
-500 ft. from residences;
-300 ft. from private wells;
-300 ft. from ponds and lakes; and,
-300 ft. from streams, grassed waterways, and field surface drains.
Refer to the NRCS Waste Transfer Practice Standard 634, available at darkeswcd.com, for additional information on stockpiling. Please note that other regulations may apply to manure originating from ODA permitted livestock facilities or handled by ODA certified livestock managers.
Follow these guidelines to keep your fields fertile and Ohio’s water clean. For more information about manure application criteria or other manure management issues, please contact the SWCD office at 937-548-1752.