Manitoba lifts fertilizing ban early

Manitoba farmers are cleared to apply spring fertilizer and manure on their fields, now that the ban which was supposed to last for another week and a half has been lifted.

Soil temperatures across the province have risen to the point that the restriction — otherwise in effect each year between Nov. 10 and the following April 10 inclusive — is lifted effective immediately, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship said Wednesday.

The annual ban specifically applies to nutrient sources containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus — including synthetic fertilizers as well as livestock manure.

The annual winter restrictions were set up due to increased risk of runoff from nutrients applied on frozen or snow-covered soils. Such runoff into waterways “contributes directly to algal blooms in Lake Winnipeg and elsewhere,” the province has said.

Though the ban is lifted, the province said Wednesday, any farmer applying fertilizer between now and April 11 “is obliged to assess current weather conditions and periodically check weather forecasts.”

If the weather outlook is “unfavourable” — say, if snow or an “appreciable amount of rainfall” that could cause runoff is in the forecast — nutrients should not be applied, the province warned Wednesday.

All other requirements under the province’s Nutrient Management Regulation and the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation remain in effect, the province said.

Those include setback requirements for winter spreading of livestock manure. Nutrients still can’t be applied to “sensitive lands” along waterways, nor to lands classified as Nutrient Management Zone N4.

N4 land is considered “environmentally sensitive;” the majority of such land in Manitoba isn’t in crops, the province said. N4 landscapes have features such as steep slopes, stable and/or active sand dunes, marshes, bogs and fens. — Network


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