Michigan bans spreading manure on croplands in winter months
Lansing – Michigan’s largest livestock operations will be prohibited from spreading manure on croplands during the first three months of the year under a regulation issued Friday.
The ban on waste application during January, February and March was included in an update of a state permit for farms that house large numbers of animals in sprawling barns.
They are known as “concentrated animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs. Such operations can have more than 1,000 beef cattle, 700 dairy cows or 30,000 laying hens.
The permit covers about 260 Michigan farms.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said the winter application provision is intended to prevent manure from flowing into waterways. Manure is a leading polluter of the Great Lakes, inland lakes and streams.
Runoff is most likely when manure is spread on frozen ground, where it can wash away with rain and melting snow instead of soaking into the soil and fertilizing crops.
The rule requires waste generators to get soil tests to make sure manure is needed before applying it to land. It reduces permissible levels of phosphorus, a leading cause of harmful algae blooms.
The permit takes effect April 1. The department said it will delay issuing certificates of coverage for at least 60 days because of the coronavirus pandemic.