Conference to examine manure concerns in Great Lakes Basin


COLUMBUS – As the Council of Great Lakes Governors make plans to protect the immense fresh-water supply from large-scale water diversions, scientists from the region are planning to protect the resource from other potential hazards.

The council, co-chaired by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, has announced a draft agreement that would strengthen the way the Great Lakes and the waters of the Great Lakes Basin are managed and protected from being diverted out of the region.

The governors of the eight Great Lakes states are also working with premiers of Quebec and Ontario to finalize the proposal after a 90-day comment period.

Protection. At the same time, scientists from the region are planning to meet in Ohio in November to make recommendations that would protect the water from pollutants stemming from drained cropland, said Jon Rausch, one of the conference planners.

Rausch is also an animal manure management program specialist with Ohio State University Extension.

Manure threat. Liquid manure from cow, hog and other livestock operations is used to enrich cropland across the Midwest, fertilizing it with natural nutrients.

But scientists remain concerned when the manure is applied to land improved with drainage tile or other artificial subsurface drainage: Systems that are meant to drain excess water from land could also act as conduits for liquid manure pollutants, putting the region’s lakes, rivers and other surface water at risk.

That’s why policy-makers, researchers, consultants and others are planning a conference Nov. 9-10, Liquid Animal Manure Application on Drained Cropland: Preferential Flow Issues and Concerns.

Reductions. Organizers of the regional meeting plan to review and integrate guidelines from U.S. states and Canadian provinces and make standard recommendations to reduce liquid manure discharges.

Other goals include identifying needs for education and outreach about applying liquid manure and reducing water pollution; and examining and prioritizing needs for research in movement of manure in artificially drained cropland.

“This will be a working meeting,” Rausch said.

“We hope to come up with a baseline document that states can use to develop guidelines. We want to build upon the strengths of each of our areas to improve the water quality in the Great Lakes and other surface water.”

Presentations. Presentations scheduled for the first day of the conference include

* How water, manure and pollutants move through Midwest soils by Jim Baker, Iowa State University.

* Preferential flow of liquid manure in macropores and cracks, Martin Shipitalo, Agricultural Research Service, and Frank Gibbs, Natural Resources Conservation Service.

* Manure violations: Summary of manure spill and fish kill reports, Jim Hoorman, Ohio State University.

* Controlling outflows on artificially drained cropland, Larry Brown, Ohio State University.

* Experiences with liquid manure application: An Ontario perspective, Bonnie Ball Coelho, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; and

* A Minnesota perspective, John Nieber, University of Minnesota.

Working days. On the second day of the conference, participants will be asked to map out recommendations for integrating state guidelines, and identifying educational and research needs.

“This conference will give us the opportunity to develop regional and multi-state programming, build networks, identify needs, and put a priority on those needs,” Rausch said.

Find out more. A complete schedule and registration information is available at (click on “manure workshop”).

The registration fee for signing up before Sept. 15 is $90, or $150 after Sept. 15.

The conference will be held at the Columbus Marriott North, 6500 Doubletree Ave., in Columbus.

For more information, contact Jon Rausch at 614-292-4504 or, or Larry Brown, 614-292-3826 or


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