Following up on DEC’s 12-5-18 emergency alert, for farms that may be concerned about maintaining adequate storage capacity in the coming months, with nighttime temperatures around 20°F or below, the soil surface should be firming up enough to support field traffic for manure applications if they are necessary. Based on past experience and in consultation with your planner, try to identify lower risk fields. Considerations such as distance from streams or watercourses, good ground cover or vegetated buffers are important. As the DEC alert notes, inject or incorporate when practical. PRO-DAIRY reached out to Larry Geohring, Cornell hydrologist, who developed a short document about plugging tile drains.
The Winter and Wet Weather Manure Application Guidelines also provide information for field selection when manure must be applied in marginal conditions:
“On farms where some application is planned during winter months, work with your AEM Certified Planner to identify a significant acreage of lower risk fields for those applications (e.g., no history of runoff or groundwater issues, limited surface connection to streams/ditches, mild slopes, no concentrated flows, no karst or shallow soil features, high crop residue or surface roughness, etc.). Also with your Certified Planner, identify a smaller set of fields to save for emergency application fields or pile areas where manure can be taken in case of unexpected extreme conditions. Fields should have no history of runoff problems, be less than 5% slopes; as far as practical from any stream, ditch, well, or karst feature – preferably at least 300 feet; be accessible for equipment; have minimal runoff from upslope areas; and not be prone to frequent or occasional flooding (see NRCS 590 Standard for temporary manure pile siting). Beneficial application management to further reduce runoff risk: Injection or incorporation, reducing application rates, introducing or increasing setback distance, applying to lower risk fields, applying to fields with ground cover such as hayfields, applying manure over a period of several days as opposed to all in one day, etc.”