Ready or not, winter is back, and it’s essential to prepare your manure storage units. Remember properly operated and maintained manure storage units are assets to your farm.
Nichole Embertson, Nutrient Management Specialist with the Whatcom Conservation District has some tips and best practices to keep in mind:
1. Clean water management
- Limit clean water collection into your manure system to maximize storage capacity. A 100-square-foot area can add up to 200,000 gallons of water to your storage over the winter months.
- Check, repair, and clean gutters and downspouts now to limit unwanted clean water collection.
- Repair roof panels and curtains.
- Divert clean water away from manured and collected areas.
2. Keep manure covered, stockpiled, dried or stored to reduce water collection
- In wet climates, installing roofs or covers over manure will reduce the amount of water that needs to be collected and improve your manure product.
- Another option is stockpiling, either short-term or long-term. Short-term must have the manure removed and land-applied within one year, but permanent stockpiles can be stored for over a year.
- Do not stockpile or store manure near waterways, as it can run off with the rain all winter long.
3. Lagoon dykes; ditches, burms, and embankments
- Keep lagoon dykes free of woody vegetation and check for animal holes and arounddykes. As lagoon waters rise, don’t be caught off guard by animal and root holes at the top of the dyke. Fix early to prevent issues.
- Keep at least a 12-inch freeboard on your lagoon. Why? The top 12+ inches are designed to keep your lagoon from failing. They are not designed to fill to the top and saturate the soil, thus potentially leading to a catastrophic blowout. Be safe, not lucky!
- Check all retention burms and embankments on fields and ditches to ensure that a large volume of water this winter won’t lead to issues.
4. Snow management
- The last couple of years have taught up to start planning now for snow events. Have a collection and storage plan in place now to ensure you are ready for the next big storm.