Manure plans start with management

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Spring has sprung!

It may be a tad early to be spouting that, but after the coldest February in recorded history and March coming in “like a lion,” temperatures in the 40s and 50s are a welcome respite.

Looking ahead to the work that comes with good weather, there will certainly be plenty to do. Spring planting, calving, construction and manure spreading certainly top the list for most farmers.

What’s the poop scoop

Speaking of manure spreading, it sure seems to be on everyone’s hot list. Our office has been inundated with calls from concerned farmers wanting the inside scoop on the pending state legislation and what it means for their day-to-day operations.

There are definitely water quality issues in areas of Ohio that have been the driving force behind the movement to pass new regulations concerning manure and fertilizer applications. So what’s a farmer to do?

Until things sort themselves out in Columbus, we can’t say with total certainty “do this or that and you’ll be 100% liability free.”

Start with management

Farming is our business and, as any good businessman knows, being proactive will typically help avert major crisis. Proactive steps start with an Natural Resources Conservation Service-approved Nutrient Management Plan. Nutrient management plans serve as an official evaluation of your operation’s manure production and utilization abilities, so having it up to date is vital.

The plan will evaluate animal numbers and potential spreadable crop acreages versus soil fertility from current soil tests, to determine a farm’s manure-spreading capability. A good plan will indicate optimal spreading rates, times, and other Best Management Practices as they pertain to specific operation’s needs.

While not a bullet proof defense against any and all liability, a well-written Nutrient Management Plan goes a long way in establishing pattern of high quality management and record-keeping — essentials for any successful business.

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Hans Baltzly is a District Technician for the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District. Tuscarawas SWCD is located at 277 – B Canal Avenue, New Philadelphia, OH 44663 and can be reached by calling 330-339-7976. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem OH 44460.

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