Spring Months Call for Stewardship as Manure Spreading Restrictions Continue Past April 1 For Frequently Flooded Fields

By Ryan Patch - Agency of Agriculture

While the winter manure spreading ban formally ends on April 1, 2018, there are additional requirements laid out in the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) that will affect manure management through the Spring months, especially in floodplains.

The RAPs state that manure cannot be applied to fields that are frozen or snow-covered, nor to fields that are saturated, likely to runoff, or are conducive to any other off-site movement, regardless of nutrient management plan recommendations.

In addition, the manure spreading ban continues through April 15 on all fields that are determined to be frequently flooded. If you are unsure whether your fields are frequently flooded, please go to agriculture.vermont.gov/floodplain or call the Agency of Agriculture at 802-828-2431 for assistance with identifying fields.

These RAP dates for agricultural management in floodplains are concrete targets established by the Agency of Ag based on the best science and local research available to ensure protection of the State’s water quality, while providing enough flexibility and accommodation for farmers to manage their most productive soils and fields in ways that work for their farm and desired crop timing. Farmers will need to meet these target dates unless they have submitted a floodplain planning tool or have requested and been approved for a reclassification of their soils. The process by which to demonstrate the need for alternative requirements is the floodplain planning and reclassification process, available online (agriculture.vermont.gov/floodplain).

Farmers concerned about storage capacity in their manure pits this winter are encouraged to call the Agency to discuss options available for managing, transferring, or developing emergency manure spreading exemption plans.  The Agency is committed to working with farmers to find solutions. VAAFM has the following additional reminders for farmers this Spring:

  • If you still have capacity in your manure pit, wait for the optimal weather and field conditions for spreading.
  • If you do not have capacity in your pit, 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 to assess appropriate manure spreading conditions, 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 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.