Don't Turn Cold Shoulder to Winter Manure Rules

Producers should apply manure at a rate suitable for plant utilization and not for disposal.

Published on: Jan 17, 2006

Livestock producers who make winter manure applications must follow required industry guidelines to reduce any pollution risks.

Many livestock producers apply manure in the winter because their operations do not have enough manure storage to get them through the winter, says Jon Rausch, Ohio State University Extension animal manure management program director. Producers also take advantage of the availability of labor and equipment, and the reduction of compaction on frozen soils, to apply manure.

"Manure is applied to the soil as a fertilizer and to improve fertility," Rausch says. "Producers should be applying manure at a rate suitable for plant utilization and not for disposal, especially with the price of commercial fertilizer continuing to increase."

Manure application on frozen and snow-covered soil is not recommended. However, if application is necessary, based on NRCS Practice Standard 633, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • Application rate is limited to 10 wet tons per acre for solid manure more than 50% moisture, and five wet tons per acre for manure less than 50% moisture. Liquid manure application rate is limited to 5,000 gallons an acre.
  • Applications are to be made on land with at least 90% residue cover, such as good quality hay or pasture field, all corn grain residue remaining after harvest, all wheat residue remaining after harvest.
  • Manure cannot be applied on more than 20 contiguous acres. Contiguous areas are to be separated by a break of at least 200 feet.
  • Use areas for manure application that are farthest from streams, ditches, waterways and surface water to prevent run-off.
  • Increase the application setback distance to a minimum of 200 feet from all grassland waterways, surface drainage ditches, streams, surface inlets and bodies of water. This distance may need to be increased based upon local conditions.
  • Additional winter application criteria apply to slopes of more than 6%. Manure should be applied in alternating strips 60 feet to 200 feet wide generally on the contour. Generally, manure should not be applied to cropland sloped more than 15% or to pastures sloped more than 20%.

Following winter manure application guidelines is important because any pollution violation could result in the loss of the winter application option.