How can farmers spreading manure in winter prevent water pollution from manure runoff? The Agricultural Research Service and the Environmental Protection Agency are collaborating to study this problem at the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed Unit at Coshocton, Ohio.
The study looked into the practice of leaving manure-free land at the edges of fields as a way of preventing manure runoff over frozen soil.
NAEW researchers have been testing runoff for many years. ARS technician Jim Buxton does the water sampling, with funding support from EPA. EPA scientists analyze the samples for E. coli and enterococci pathogens. Enterococci bacteria have replaced fecal coliform bacteria as indicators of the likely presence of other pathogens in water that can also infect people.
The study aims to find a way to avoid the costs farmers now incur from storing manure over winter, while keeping environmental impacts at a minimum.