Manure restrictions still in effect in wet weather

MONTPELIER — April 1 marks the end of Vermont’s winter manure-spreading ban for non-frequently flooded fields in Vermont, but with another cold and wet spring bringing adverse field conditions to most of Vermont, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) is issuing a spring stewardship reminder to ensure that farmers are aware that water quality rules will restrict manure-spreading activities until the weather and individual field conditions improve.
The Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs), newly revised in December of 2016, prohibit the application of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground, or to any fields where field conditions are conducive to runoff into Vermont’s waters.
Showers and snowfall are forecasted in some parts of the state through the coming weekend and farmers are urged to take caution when spreading through the spring months. Timing of crop nutrient application is important not only to avoid runoff from farm fields, but also to achieve efficient nutrient uptake and maximize crop yield.
The manure-spreading ban continues through April 14 on all fields that are determined to be frequently flooded. If unsure whether a field is frequently flooded, go to agriculture.vermont.gov/floodplain or call the Agency of Agriculture at 802-828-2431 for assistance with identifying fields.
Farmers concerned about storage capacity in their manure pits are encouraged to call the Agency to discuss options available for managing, transferring, or developing emergency manure-spreading exemption plans.
VAAFM has the following additional reminders for farmers this Spring:
•  For those who still have capacity in their manure pits, wait for the optimal weather and field conditions for spreading.
•  For those who do not have capacity in their pits, reach out to VAAFM to seek alternative solutions or an exemption.
•  Do not spread manure on saturated ground that will runoff to surface water, or before major rain events.
•  After spreading any nutrient (liquid or solid manure, compost, or fertilizer) be sure to keep accurate records of the manure or nutrients applied.
When evaluating fields over the coming weeks the most important question that farmers and manure applicators need to ask is: ‘When applied to this field, will manure runoff to surface water or a ditch?’ Individual field conditions will vary significantly across the State, and farmers need to assess their fields carefully and take action to ensure that they are in compliance with the rules and are protecting our waterways.
For more information about the RAPs, the winter manure-spreading ban, or for recommendations regarding early season spreading practices, visit: agriculture.vermont.gov/RAP.
To request an exemption to the prohibition from spreading on frozen or snow-covered ground, please call VAAFM Water Quality Staff, either: Laura DiPietro, 802-595-1990 or Dave Huber, 802-461-7160.

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