Because of the soggy weather, many farmers were unable to get into the fields to plant or safely apply fertilizer and manure, said John Kessler, assistant chief for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Resources. That meant many manure storage facilities were almost at capacity, causing concerns that some of the manure could work its way into waterways.
During the rainy season, ODNR offered up to $500 in financial assistance to help qualified livestock facility operators haul the manure to a municipal treatment plant or another storage facility that still had capacity. The program was a temporary solution for farmers who had no other means of storage or transportation of the manure.
“The drier weather came in the nick of time – we had some inquiries about the program,” Kessler said.
While the financial assistance program will continue to be offered this summer, Kessler said it was important for farmers to consider working up nutrient management plans and trying to retrofit existing manure storage sites.
“The problem has been around a long time and was exacerbated by all the rainfall,” he said. “The last couple of weeks we’ve had some dry spells, taking the pressure off but it could continue to be a problem.”
Kessler recommended that farmers try to have 120 to 180 days of manure storage so they can survive a couple of seasons of bad weather. Retrofitting an existing site or adding a new one can cost tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.
“Some are very challenging to retrofit or may not have the space. There may be problems in the soil or the geology may not support having a waste treatment pond put in,” he said. “It’ll be a job for many years to retrofit and properly design Ohio’s facilities to have at least 120 days of storage.”