In a message circulated by Nathaniel Sands of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, an early end to the winter ban on spreading manure on Vermont farm fields was announced.
As a result of unusually warm and dry weather, lack of snow and projected weather forecast over the next few weeks the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets in agreement with the Agency of Natural Resources and Vermont Association of Conservation Districts is lifting the winter spreading ban that normally is in place until April 1st. According to Secretary Chuck Ross, “I am lifting the ban because I believe it will help farmers best manage their manure resources and is in the best interests of Vermont’s waterways.” David Mears, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation agreed stating “Current conditions are favorable for manure application. Taking advantage of good weather now may prevent application of manure later when conditions may not be as good.”
The manure spreading ban is a regulation that has been in place since 1995 under the Accepted Agricultural Practice rules. Vermont was a leading state in developing such a ban, however in recent years several other states have been considering or adopting the idea. Research has shown that manure applications on frozen ground can increase the runoff potential. Vermont chose to select a ban period from December 15th to April 1st each year to protect water quality; however the Agency has discretion with those dates to accommodate these exact types of circumstances.
Farmers are reminded that Vermont’s Accepted Agricultural Practices Rules and medium and large farm permit requirements apply as appropriate including:
- Manure shall not be spread within 10 feet of the top of the bank of surface waters or within 25 feet at points of concentrated runoff on small farm operations
- Medium and Large farms shall not spread manure within 25 feet of the top of the bank of surface waters
- Manure shall not be applied in such a manner as to enter surface water
- Manure applied to land subject to annual overflow from adjacent waters shall be incorporated within 48 hours
- The Agency also highly recommends that the following practices be observed while the spreading ban is lifted:
- Avoid spreading manure during or just before rain events. Remember that manure cannot be spread in such a way as to run off the intended site during application.
- Where appropriate, incorporate manure as quickly as possible.
- Avoid spreading manure on fields that are subject to annual overflow from adjacent surface waters. Manure spread on annual crop land that is subject to annual overflow from adjacent surface waters shall be incorporated within 48 hours.
- Consider using split manure applications and reduced manure application rates.
- Do not apply to land that is still snow-covered or frozen.