Cold or warm spring weather brings concerns for farmers

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

The frozen ground and remaining snow are keeping farmers from spreading manure, forcing them to find storage options.

Although winter is officially over, cold and snow could still have lasting effects on farming.

“After the lesson we learned last spring, of it being so wet, so long and that's why people are on the edge of their seat as far as making sure they have enough manure storage,” Chippewa Falls dairy farmer Jeff Peck said.

Eau Claire County conservation technician Greg Leonard said field runoff could come from high temperatures and a quick thaw, but colder temperatures would force farmers without enough storage space to spread manure too early.

“There's always the risk of potential contamination, because manure being a byproduct of animals does have within it, besides the nutrients that's with it, there's pathogens that's with it,” Leonard said.

“If there's been manure applied to the field some of that can leave the field. During some of the severe runoffs, we can also actually have plenty of soil erosion that occurs at that same time,” Leonard said.

He along with Peck say there are some methods to avoid spreading in risky areas.

“With our manure, we still have to spread. That comes out of the younger stock facilities, we try to pick our fields on level ones where the runoff risk is the least likely to occur,” Peck said.

He said his farm has enough storage space for now, but hopes local farmers can haul manure before heavy trucks are banned from rural roads. Given the extreme weather we've seen in recent years, he says he's not expecting perfect conditions.

“I'd say it's too early to tell but after the last couple, I'm hoping for at least average.”

Peck said conserving manure is important for cost savings on fertilizer and that the slow thaw we've been seeing is ideal to avoid runoff problems.

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