Fall manure spreading —setback and incorporation requirements

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We all have our fall to-do lists. For the operators of confined feeding operations (CFOs), manure application is a big fall priority.

Operators need to make room in their manure storages to prepare for winter, and manure application needs to happen before there is any snowfall, says Chris Ullmann, CFO extension specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD). In the rush to get things done in the fall, it is easy to forget that it is not just important to get tasks done, but to get them done right.

In Alberta, the management and application of manure is regulated by the Agricultural Operation Practices Act (AOPA) and the rules are enforced by the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB), says Ullmann. All forms of manure are regulated, including compost and composting materials. There are requirements in AOPA for manure incorporation, and setbacks from wells, common bodies of water and in some cases, neighbouring residences.

Ullmann says the key thing to remember about setback requirements is that manure is not allowed to leave the property to which it is applied. For this reason the setbacks vary depending on how and where application occurs.

When manure is incorporated, ei ther through injection or by working it in after spreading, the setback requirements from water wells and common bodies of water apply. The table outlines required setback distances based on the manure application method. If the incorporation method is to work it in after application, this must be done within 48 hours.

If not incorporated

Sometimes it is not possible to incorporate manure. When manure is spread on a direct-seeded crop, or on forages, there is an additional setback distance which must be observed. In this situation, AOPA does not allow for manure spreading within 150 metres of a residence, and the setback distance from a common body of water will vary depending on the slope of the land.

You generally cannot spread manure on frozen or snow-covered land, without NRCB permission. There are some emergency provisions in place, says Ullmann. However, an operator in an emergency situation needs to work closely with the NRCB. An inspector can authorize emergency spreading in certain situations, if it is justified.

It is always best when an operator self-reports a problem and we can work together towards a solution, notes Alasdair MacKinnon, NRCB inspector. When NRCB inspectors receive a public concern regarding manure application, it is most helpful if they have already heard from the operator about the situation.

Working closely with your nearest inspector is the best way to ensure the environment is protected and the outcome is in everyone s best interests, says Ullmann.

To request a laminated copy of the manure management regulations and setback requirements, or for more information about manure management in general, contact the nearest confined feeding operation extension specialist in your area by dialing 310-FARM (3276). Information is also available by searching the term AOPA legislation on the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development s webpage at http://www.agriculture.alberta.ca.

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