Can you spread manure in your state this winter?
December 13, 2022 by Manure Manager
With winter officially only a few days away on the calendar and many states experiencing frozen ground and more frequent snow cover, it’s time to adjust manure practices for the season.
Manure Manager is currently compiling a list of states where winter spreading is banned and/or restricted, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast where much of the U.S.’s farming operations are located.
This list is not exhaustive as not all states have all information on spreading readily available. Please, if unsure about winter spreading regulations in your area, contact your local government officials.
Winter spreading rules vary for some states. In some, spreading is not fully banned, but is heavily restricted or has some exemptions. In other states, spreading in the winter is fully banned. States that ban winter spreading include Delaware, Maine, Maryland and Vermont. In most states, bans have been in effect since early to mid-December. However, the bans end at different times in the year, and the end date may be subject to change depending on current weather conditions. For example, in Vermont, where spreading activity has been disallowed since Dec. 15, spreading cannot resume until April 1. In Maryland, the ban goes until March 1 but says spreading may continue “as long as fields are not saturated, snow-covered or frozen,” meaning if a field is still frozen or snow-covered in mid-March, spreading should not resume.
Some states with spreading bans also have specifications on storage. In Vermont, the state’s Required Agricultural Practices state that farmers must either have a storage structure that can hold all manure produced during the ban (which is 106 days), or they must be able to stack all manure produced in a way that meets RAP standards. For Maryland’s part, some instances may require emergency spreading, but only following contact and authorization from the state’s Nutrient Management Program.
In more states, spreading in the winter is not banned, but has a moderate to high number of restrictions. Or, the state bans manure spreading for some operations, but makes exemptions for others depending on size or scale of operation.
States with restrictions or exemptions on winter spreading include, but are not limited to: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Much like the definition of “winter,” all restrictions vary by state and restrictions are not the same for farms of all sizes. For example, in Wisconsin, large, permitted farms (CAFOs) are not allowed to spread on frozen or snow-covered ground, with “snow-covered” defined as one inch or more of snow). Smaller farms under nutrient management plans follow the Wisconsin Nutrient Management Plan 590 Standard. However, not all smaller farms have nutrient management plans. Some counties, such as Brown County, require winter manure spreading plans for all farms. In Minnesota, winter spreading is restricted for permitted facilities, usually sites with 1,000 animal units are more. However, some sites may have permits for other reasons.
If you are unsure of winter spreading regulations, restrictions or bans in your area, contact local officials and consult your state’s agriculture department website.