By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo
Fall is here, things are dry, and there is still work that can be done in the fields; both in getting crops off and applying organic fertilizer (i.e., manure) for next year’s crops.
When spreading manure, you must keep in mind Best Management Practices. You may not be aware but the Nutrient Management Act is now the basis for the Best Management Practices of nutrient management.
Therefore, manure should be applied at a rate based on crop fertilization requirements. As well, when applying manure, you should remember the setback distance outlined in the Nutrient Management Act.
The definition of a setback distance is the distance where manure is not to be applied. These setback distances for manure application are to wells and surface water.
For wells, you should identify where all the wells are located on or around the fields where the manure is going to be applied. Then based on the type of well, manure should not be spread closer than the required setback distance as outlined in the Nutrient Management Act.
The three types of wells, and different setbacks, are as follows:
•a municipal well requires a minimum setback of 100 metres (330 ft.);
•drilled wells, with a watertight casing to a depth of six metres, requires a minimum setback of 15 metres (50 ft.); and
•all other wells, which includes gas wells, sampling wells, and oil wells, require a minimum setback of 30 metres (100 ft.)
Recommended setback distances to surface water is more complex. For the first three metres (10 ft.) from the top of the nearest bank of the surface water, no manure should be applied.
On the next 10 metres (33 ft.), manure should be applied by direct injection or surface applied, and incorporated within 24 hours of application, or applied to a living crop or to land with a minimum of at least 30 percent of crop residue.
In following Best Management Practices, you also should remember to keep a distance away from field tile inlets, catchbasins, and standing water. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of nutrient losses.
As well, when applying manure to a field that is tiled, make sure to monitor the field tile outlets before, after, and during manure application.
Manure is a good organic fertilizer—if applied correctly. Utilization of proper application rates and setback distances will ensure the sustainability of our farms for today and the future.
For more information, visit ww.omafra.gov.on.ca or call the local OMAFRA office at 482-1921.