Goal: To prevent contaminated runoff from entering surface or groundwaters.
Issue: Excess nutrients entering into surface waters in the Shuswap/Okanagan have resulted in reduced water quality. Runoff from manured fields is believed to be a significant source of these nutrients. Manure may also carry pathogens which, together with excess nutrients, may reduce downstream water quality for drinking or recreation.
Producer Responsibility: Manure must be applied to land only as a fertilizer or a soil conditioner. Producers are responsible for ensuring that contaminated runoff from their fields does not enter watercourses (i.e. ditches, streams, marshes, rivers or lakes).
What is Contaminated Runoff? Water is contaminated if it exceeds the water quality objectives for the water course it enters.
Rule of Thumb: If the water running off of a manured field is brown in color, it is clearly contaminated
What can Producers Do?
In order to prevent or reduce the risk of contaminated runoff from entering a watercourse, producers should not spread manure:
- within 5 in of a bank or slope leading to a watercourse;
- within 30 in of any well, stream or spring used for domestic purposes. These distances should be increased where the ground slopes toward the stream, watercourse or well;
- on steep or very long shallow slopes where erosion and/or surface runoff is likely to occur;
- on saturated soils or in areas of standing water where manure will not infiltrate into the soil; and
- within the high water mark of field depressions during times of the year when there is a risk of direct surface runoff to a water course.
Fall and winter application rates of should not exceed the total annual nutrient requirements of the crop. Fields receiving manure should have a good level of vegetative cover or crop residue present. Avoid tilling under crop residue as this may increase the risk of soil and manure loss in runoff. A crop specialist can advise the producer on a suitable application rate.
Uncontaminated runoff (clean water) should be diverted around pens, exercise yards, manured fields, or other areas where contamination is likely to occur. lf contarnination of some runoff is likely, facilities should be constructed (storages, berms, swales etc.) to contain that runoff until it can be spread as a fertilizer.
Rule of Thumb: If runoff water is clean ? keep it clean!
1. Manure application to unfrozen ground in fall.
This is a good time to apply manure to many corn or grassland sites as most of the manure nutrients will be available for the crop next spring. Avoid wet areas, areas close to a watercourse and fine textured soils with long or steep slopes.
Rule of Thumb: If there has been runoff or flooding in previous years ? don't apply manure to that field.
2. Manure application to frozen ground in fall or winter
This practice is not recommended on most fields. The risk of contaminated runoff from this practice is high. If you must apply manure to frozen ground then apply to grassland or standing grain stubble where soils are coarser textured, and where slopes are shallow. Stay well away from water courses.
Rule of Thumb: Fields which have had runoff, even if only in some years, should be avoided as the risk of runoff is high.
3. Manure application to snow covered ground.
This practice is not recommended ? and may be further restricted in future if spring runoff continues to occur. Manure applied to snow is most at risk to create contaminated runoff. This is due to an increased rate of melt and limited potential for the manure to bind to the soil or crop residue. If you must apply manure to snow covered ground use fields that are level or have a shallow slope, are well away from a watercourse, have coarse textured soils, have a northern exposure (aspect) and have significant vegetative cover.
Rule of Thumb: Fields which have had runoff at snowmelt, even if only in some years, should be avoided as the risk of runoff is high.
BC Environment Role & Intentions
Enforcement of the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation is the mandate of BC Environment. Resolution of the "manure contaminated runoff' issue is essential to the success of a self regulated, environmentally sustainable agricultural industry. The Ministry is working actively with producer groups to substantively eliminate manure contaminated runoff within a tight time frame to meet BC Environment regulations and public expectations.
Responsibility for compliance with the Regulation rests with the producer. The Ministry is prepared to work with producers to find solutions where unusual circumstances exist. Producers who continue to experience contaminated runoff are in violation of the Regulation and are subject to enforcement under the Waste Management Act.
Contacts for more information
Barb John, Agricultural Impact Officer, Kamloops, (250) 371-6299
Ron Townson, Environmental Protection Officer, Penticton, (250) 490-8276
BC Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Brian Harper, District Agriculturist, Salmon Arm, (250) 832-1629
Ted Moore, District Agrologist, Kamloops, (250)371-6052
Kevin Murphy, District Agriculturist, Vernon, (250) 260-3000
Geoff Hughes-Games, Soil Specialist, Abbotsford, (604) 556-3102
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Dr. Bernie Zebarth, Soil Scientist, Surnmerland, (250) 494-6391
AEPC or Commodity Group Peer Inspectors