MANCHESTER, Iowa — After a challenging fall farming season because of above-average rainfall, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is now watching potential manure overflows after spring flooding added to facilities filling up fast.
"When the ground is not accessible and the structures are full it becomes a tight window," Brian Jergenson, the senior environmental specialist for the Iowa DNR's field office in Manchester said. "We did have a few instances where manure service structures ran into the water of this state. It harms the environment, it's just not healthy."
While the overflow mainly happened during the historic flooding in western Iowa, snow melt in parts of Minnesota and added rainfall here in eastern Iowa has DNR officials on high alert making sure water ways here are safe and farmers are informed about what they can do if they run out of manure storage and fear there could be a potential runoff.
"There are options, they can transfer manure into storage structures, they can apply lower rates and in some of their safer areas on their fields," Jergenson said. "There are areas that aren't as close to streams or rivers where they can apply at lesser rates just to buy themselves some time.”
Eastern Iowa fields are dry enough now for manure application and farmers have been applying product to their fields at a high rate. The DNR however, continues to be in close contact with them with more rain on the way and the potential for more flooding impact to be felt in the area.
"We were all concerned, for the most part Eastern Iowa has been pretty safe,"Jergenson said. "It's typical of what we are used to seeing. Farmers are resilient. Manure application, planting a crop this can all be done within a few weeks at times. From our observation they are getting back on track, little less stress for us and a lot less stress for the farmers."