Farmers Warned About Manure Use

Farmers across the drought-ravaged Midwest are being warned to use caution when applying fertilizers due to fears of potential groundwater contamination.

For the past several months, much of the Midwest has been in the grip of an increasingly severe drought. An unusually warm and dry winter has led to an abnormally hot spring and summer. In the past few months, several Midwestern states have reported historically high temperatures.

While the arid weather and high temperatures have led many farmers to worry about their summer harvests and crop yields, some environmental groups are worried about potential ecological damage as a result of the drought.

In Wisconsin, the state Department of Natural Resources has warned farmers to inspect their fields for cracks before applying fertilizer and manure. For the past several years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have been attempting to balance agricultural production with environmental conservation. One of the major areas of contention has been the use of fertilizers.

The application of various farm chemicals on cracked fields can lead to the contamination of groundwater, environmental advocates claim. According to a University of Wisconsin conservation official, “Given how wide soil cracks are this year, however, taking precautions is strongly recommended with ALL liquid manure applications, regardless of solids content. Wider and deeper cracks mean we need to be more careful this summer.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer