By JEFF BURBRINK
Extension Educator, Purdue Extension Elkhart County
GOSHEN — A question we frequently have at farm meetings this time of the year is, “Can we spread manure on frozen or snow covered ground?”
According to the rules in place, an IDEM permitted Confined Feeding Operation cannot apply manure to frozen ground unless special permission is granted by IDEM.
Rules about manure applications on frozen ground are not limited to CFOs, however. Manure from all sources, including CFOs, can be applied to frozen ground under the following circumstances:
1) If the equipment can inject or incorporate in that same day when the crop is not in the field. The application can be made at the recommended agronomic rate, or
2) If the equipment can only apply manure on the surface without incorporation, then the following rules cover those surface-only applications:
- Cannot apply within 200 feet of surface water
- Cannot apply in floodway
- Can apply up to 50 percent of the next crops needs
- Cannot be applied to slopes greater than 2 percent unless there is 40 percent residue or a cover crop in place
Surface applications must follow these setback distances: 500 feet from public water supply, 100 feet from surface water, sinkholes, water wells, and drainage inlets, and 50 feet from property lines and public roads.
There are good reasons for these restrictions. Just a 2.5 hour drive east of here, Lake Erie is having some major issues with algae blooms. This freshwater algae bloom is thought to be caused primarily by phosphorus. In the Gulf of Mexico, a phenomena known as hypoxia or the Dead Zone is causing a huge algae bloom and killing most of the fish and shrimp in the region. The Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia is thought to be caused mainly by nitrogen in saltwater.
Nutrients left on the soil surface, including commercial fertilizer, are far more likely to move off site than those incorporated into the soil.
As stewards of the land, we are charged with doing the best we can to keep nutrients from running off. Injecting or incorporating nutrients into the soil, applying those nutrients at a time of the year when runoff is least likely to occur, and using cover crops or crop residues to reduce nutrient runoff are good techniques to reduce runoff.