Editor’s note: The following information was provided by the Todd County Soil and Water Conservation District.

From flooded to frozen, that is the extreme of soil conditions in Todd County this fall.

The good news is farmers now have some stable ground to finish a very late harvest; the bad news is this comes at the expense of crop yield and quality. Additionally, with the crops remaining on the landscape late into the fall season, complex challenges arise for land application of manure onto fields.

First and foremost, many manure storages are now full. Manure basins have the engineered capacity to hold the average volume of liquid manure the farm produces between land application events.

Todd County ordinance requires all manure storages constructed in the last decade to hold 12 months of manure storage. With the wet spring, not all manure storage basins were completely emptied pre planting. Topped off with the greatest volume of rainfall in 30 years filling up storage space, few harvested acres available to fall apply manure, and a short window for commercial applicators to respond to farm needs — the picture isn’t pretty.

Farmers, the frozen soils in the past week placed us under “winter conditions.” This means setbacks for surface applications are increased to 300-feet from all waters, tile inlets, public ditches and wetlands. Surface application of liquid manure onto frozen soil is allowable for farms under 1,000 animal units as long as setbacks are followed and no direct discharge results.

Farms with NPDES and SDS permits also can winter apply liquid manure under emergency conditions onto pre-approved fields listed in their manure management plans. The SWCD office has received several notifications for farms needing to utilize this emergency clause in 2019. If a spill occurs, react immediately and notify the Duty Officer at 1-800-422-0798. “A call in time, stops the fine.”

Public roadway users: Please slow down and be on the look-out for hoses, implements, or equipment operating on or parked alongside roadways, especially at night as many farms are working 24 hours to get their work accomplished. (Farmers, be noticeable!) Thank you for your cooperation, patience, and understanding during this difficult time.