Manure Spraying Sparks Community Tensions

Wisconsin famers are finding themselves embroiled in conflicts with their neighbors over a controversial method of manure application.
The method in question is manure spraying. Traditional application of manure is done with solid material spread over fields or liquid material injected into soil or applied directly onto fields. A controversial new method, however, uses high-capacity hoses and irrigation-style sprayers to propel manure through the air above fields.
Supporters of the method claim that it is more cost effective and poses fewer risks to the environment. Opponents, however, have voiced concerns that the bacteria and pathogens potentially spread by the manure could harm farm workers. In addition, local residents claim that spraying smells worse than traditional application methods.
In many western states, manure spreading is more common. However, in Wisconsin, where farms and their residential neighbors are often in close proximity, the method is still in its infancy.
Several towns have already pushed for bans on manure spaying and are pressuring the state government for a statewide ban.
Underpinning these conflicts, however, is a fundamental disconnect between an idealized agricultural community and its modern incarnation. According to one water resource expert at the University of Wisconsin Madison, “We are seeing bigger and bigger farms – and the changes from bucolic farm settings to something different is threatening to many people.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer