Wisconsin at high risk for manure runoff after record rainfall

Published: Oct. 2, 2019 at 5:15 PM CDT
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This week's rain and flooding has put most of Wisconsin's land at a high risk of runoff. Farmers, already having a tough season, are seeing overflowing manure storages which is threatening our area's ground and surface water.

“We're going into the second year of record-breaking rain, which delays everything, it delays corn harvest, it delays planting in the spring, and ultimately it delays when farms can get the manure onto the fields, in a safe, protective way,” said Davina Bonness, Land and Water Conservationist in Kewaunee County.

Bonness said the county and the DNR have been working with farmers to make sure everyone is on the same page.

“We said communicate to our office so that you know, we know, where you think about going, we can go verify the fields, see if there's a better spot for you,” said Bonness.

Farmers, Bonness said, should also follow nutrient plans closely and increase setbacks if need be. She said if you're 100 feet from a stream maybe go 200 feet when spreading manure.

“Possibly decrease the rates, so if your nutrient management plans says you can spread 15 thousand gallons, maybe you're going to do a split application of 7,500 now, and then come back and top dress that same area or incorporate the manure in a couple weeks,” said Bonness.

Kewaunee County said the fall season is a very vulnerable time for the aquifer, so protecting the ground and surface water at all cost is a priority. The state's runoff risk advisory map shows most of the state in red, meaning "don't spread."

Land and water conservation experts like Bonness just worry about an early snowfall, but right now, farmers are taking it one day at a time.

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