Groundwater ordinance, manure irrigation focus of Land and Water meeting
At the Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Meeting Tuesday, the committee discussed implementation of the groundwater protection ordinance’s first year and heard a scientific presentation on manure spraying.
The groundwater protection ordinance, which was approved by voters last year, prohibits manure spreading on fields with less than 20 feet to bedrock until April 15.
Davina Bonness reported that four farmers had been found in violation of the ordinance. She said that they would not be fined because it was their first violation.
Tony Knorn of the Junion Farm appeared before the committee to ask for assistance because his farm had not been able to get manure storage pads installed for their new heifer barn and the farm needed to dispose of its manure before the April 15 deadline.
The committee voted unanimously to have a representative from the Land and Water Conservation Department visit the Junion farm the following day to determine a temporary solution to the problem.
Chairman John Pagel noted that a decision on whether to allow spreading before the April 15 deadline was to be made annually at the March meeting.
“I do not support lifting the ban,” Bonness said. “The fields are too saturated . . .and we need to protect the groundwater.”
The committee agreed to call a special meeting if it appeared that the ban could be lifted before April 15.
Several members of the committee praised a recent presentation by Mark Archuleta of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on soil health.
Joe Johnson of the NRCS said that farmers had a unique climate in the county because of the lake and that Archuleta’s presentation focused on the benefits of cover crops to reduce erosion and runoff and improve soil health.
Mark Bochardt, research biologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, gave a presentation on the “Quantitative Microbial Assessment for Estimating Setback Distance From Aerial Irrigation of Dairy Manure.”
His study goals were to identify the relationship between the risk of gastrointestinal illness and distance in manure spraying and to identify other variables most important for airborne pathogen transport during manure irrigation.
The study demonstrated distances that would provide the median probability of illness for a single exposure to manure irrigation, he said. It also determined that pathogens in the manure are the strongest determinant of risk and that distance and wind speed when spraying manure are also important to protecting human health.
Bochart said that this study would be included in the state’s Manure Irrigation Work Group report due out next week and that the data would be published in a scientific journal.
Committee member Lee Luft asked if observations from his study would be included in DNR manure irrigation permits.
Bochardt said that other states and countries had chosen to use his study data in recent years, but “Wisconsin has chosen to ignore the data the last five years.”
He said that pathogen removal by digesters is higher variable and averages about 90 percent.
Affter the meeting, he noted that no studies had been completed to confirm whether ground and surface water runoff was reduced with manure irrigation and that more comprehensive studies had not been completed on the short and long-term affects of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and particulate matter of sprayed manure on human health.
He also noted that the cumulative effects of manure spraying had not been studied and that he was hoping to receive additional funds from the Environmental Protection Agency to do additional studies of the effects of manure spraying in Kewaunee County.
Committee Chairman John Pagel, who has requested the first permit for manure irrigation in the county, said that he was sending letters out to neighbors to inform them of his plans.
He said that because he was treating his manure to remove pathogens before spraying, he did not think that odor would be a problem and that he planned to work manure into the soil as soon as it was spread to help control odor.
“Our team is bringing in information to teach farmers how to do a better job,” said Pagel about the Land and Water Conservation Committee. “All our efforts have been voluntary.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Groundwater ordinance, manure irrigation focus of Land and Water meeting