dnr-LOGO-thmbThe Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working with a dairy producer north of Decorah who asked for emergency permission to apply liquid manure to nearby fields.

Tom McCarthy works in the DNR’s Manchester field office. “The producer at Foresight Farms was building some water-holding tanks and he discovered a leaking water line had partly filled his manure storage structures and realized he wouldn’t make it until spring,” McCarthy says. McCarthy says producer, Dave Wise, will spread some 600,000 gallons of the diluted material.

“I believe he has maybe a one-point-two million gallon structure, and had probably filled it part of the way up with manure in the fall — and then with this water leak, he wouldn’t make it until spring,” McCarthy says. He says several fields in Wise’s manure management plan were chosen for the manure application, and they looked at relatively flat fields with no underlying tile intakes to avoid runoff.

McCarthy says the added water makes the manure a little different from regular manure. He says the water in the manure dilutes it, and he says it could have one half to one third the amount of nutrients in regular manure. McCarthy says Wise did the right thing by contacting the DNR to get help, and he says the state will keep an eye on the process.

“We will go up and take a look at it and just make sure that everything is okay and that we don’t have runoff into our creeks and streams up there,” McCarthy says. Producers are normally not permitted to spread liquid manure at this time of year because of the frozen ground.

“February first is the start of the frozen ground regulation and that goes to April first,” McCarthy says. “And the idea is that any manure that is applied that when we have a meltdown, that is not going to soak into the soil, some of that is going to run off.”

The emergency application requires them to notify the DNR and then only apply the manure to the fields identified in their manure management plan. The fields have restrictions on their amount of slope and the level of phosphorus they contain.