LeMars, IA (KTIV) - Starting today in Iowa if you operate a livestock confinement facility with more than 500 animal units and apply liquid manure on your fields, you could be breaking the law. Mark Bohner, Plymouth County Farm Bureau says, "Well today farmers now are prohibited from liquid manure on frozen or snow covered ground."
That requirement lasts from December 21 to April first. And in a normal year that would not be a big issue. Iowa State University Crop Specialist Joel DeJong says, "Most people they're not gonna be applying liquid manure this time of year and that's what I think those rules mostly apply to.
However, this has not been a normal year. And with the late harvest there could be some problems with farmers complying with the law. Bohner says, "Like right now where most of the farmers that have corn in haven't applied any manure and they may have their pits that are overflowing. They need a way to relieve that situation."
The reason the regulation went into effect in the first place was the concern with applying liquid manure to frozen or snow covered ground like this could cause leeching losses. DeJong said ,"Well there are some concerns with surface application of manure because the ground is frozen so you're not gonna get the infiltration you would get in the time of year where you don't have the ground frozen."
However, DeJong says a bigger issue is actually applying liquid manure on snow...but only if the snow is several inches deep. DeJong said, "Some of the research indicates that if the snow depth is more than about six inches, then the risk of loss to surface water goes up."
Experts say producers with any problems should contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. However, the hope if there will be some leniency to start with because of this year's extenuating circumstances.