The Current

Manitowoc Co. Soil & Water Conservation Department Fall 2019

Welcome to the Current, a quarterly newsletter from the Manitowoc County Soil & Water Conservation Department

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Have you seen these signs?

Driving down Hwy 10 you might spot something new along the roadside. Cover Crop Signs.

Cover Crops are close growing grasses, legumes, or small grains grown to control erosion, add organic matter to the soil, fix nitrogen, and improve soil infiltration and aeration.

The cover crop sign initiative is organized by the Manitowoc County Forage Council's Soil Health & Cover Crop Focus Team in partnership with the Lakeshore Natural Resource Partnership and the Manitowoc County Soil & Water Conservation Department. "We're excited about the new cover crop signs," says Manitowoc County Resource Conservationist, Bruce Riesterer. "They are helping people identify cover crops and the efforts local farmers are making to improve soil and water quality. " Local Farmer and Soil Health Team and Forage Council Board Member, Dan Habermann, adds, "Farmers are proud of the conservation practices we have on our land. We want people to know what we're doing and that we care."

You'll find the signs posted in fields throughout the County that are planted with cover crops such as: Oats & Radish, Barley, Tritacale, Winter Rye, and Crimson Clover.

Pine Creek Watershed 9-Key Element Plan Approved by EPA!

The Pine Creek Watershed Plan was approved by the DNR and EPA this September.

9-Key Plan approval is a crucial step for the County to access state and national funding opportunities to help accomplish the following watershed goals:

  1. Improve surface water quality (reducing sediment by 11.5% & phosphorus by 21.9%)
  2. Improve streambank stability
  3. Increase public awareness and participation in watershed conservation activities.

The Pine Creek Watershed is located in Manitowoc County, just south of the city of Manitowoc. Pine & Calvin Creeks and an unnamed intermittent stream transport water from approximately 21 square miles, or 13,409 acres of land into Lake Michigan. The watershed is also home to Carstens, Gass, Glomski, Grossheusch, Hartlaub, Kasbaum, Waack and Weyers Lakes.

"Although many conservation practices have been installed and are being utilized by landowners in the Pine Creek Watershed," says Soil & Water Conservation Director, Jerry Halverson, "additional work is necessary to further reduce sediment and pollutant runoff and loading to lakes and streams in the watershed." Four lakes: Carstens, Gass, Hartlaub, and Weyers, along with Pine and Calvin Creeks are considered 303d impaired for total phosphorus. "Success depends on landowners voluntarily adding management and conservation practices to their operation and on their land," adds Halverson. "We can improve water quality, increase landowner profitability, and create a healthy and enduring environment for present and futures generations all at the same time."

Next steps include meeting with landowners living and working within the watershed and securing financial and technical resources to begin plan implementation. The full plan will be listed on the Soil & Water Conservation's webpage soon.

Wet Conditions & Late Harvest Create Fall Manure Application Challenges & Hazards

-Tony Smith, Manitowoc Co. Soil & Water Resource Conservationist

Livestock farmers across Wisconsin are facing another fall of wet weather that is disrupting plans for fieldwork. Silage harvest is delayed. Much of the cropland with corn silage receives manure applications both liquid and solid. Late harvests means late manure application, late incorporation or tillage operations and unfortunately some manure spreading after freezing weather.

Keep in mind:

Direct injection of manure from a tractor with hose rig will result in much less compaction.

Saturated or wet soil cannot receive all the manure in the fall in most cases. If your nutrient management plan calls for 20,000 gal of manure per acre, that is the rough equivalent of ¾ inch of additional water per acre. If you must apply to wet ground, reduce the rate to avoid over-saturating the soil. Once saturated, runoff and pooling of manure will begin to occur and may flow off the application site. Even if incorporated, excess liquid will ooze through the soil and pool or runoff the site.

Damp, harvested corn silage ground gets compacted. Even on gentle slopes, manure runoff can occur if there is no incorporation. Even solid manure that is not incorporated can create nasty runoff events if it becomes saturated.

Soooo. If you must spread on wet ground, reduce your rate by 1/2. You may have to come back and apply again to the same field in a couple weeks or a couple months to complete the application for next year’s crop.

Manure pit is full? Don’t let it over flow. Check with your neighbors, friends, and manure haulers on the availability of storage on another farm.

Putting manure on that alfalfa/hay field? Easy does it. If the field has a 50% alfalfa stand, and has grown to more than 8” tall, there will be 160 # of nitrogen in the field for next year’s crop already. The N recommendation for corn silage is roughly 200# nitrogen for a season. If you spread “typical liquid dairy manure” on the field, you are limited to 4000gal/acre. Extra manure nitrogen is likely to be lost to leaching or to denitrification. Clipped hay can receive 8000-10,000 gal/acre.

Planning to keep the hay but applying manure? Easy does it. Once soil is cold (October 1) little biological action happens to make manure available to plants. Heavy manure can still smother the plants. Manure on hayfields within 300 feet of streams, 1000 feet of lakes and slopes greater than 12% needs to be incorporated within 48 hours.

Watch out for waterways and concentrated flow areas. Grass waterways should not receive manure application and areas adjacent to waterways, to 50 ft should be incorporated within 48 hours.

Spreading manure in areas with sinkholes and direct conduits to groundwater? Contribution areas to sinkholes can receive manure application only if manure is incorporated within 48 hours. If it is unlikely that you can incorporate within 48 hours, don’t spread.

Field tiles are working and the field looks spreadable? If you have surface inlets or tile blow-outs, incorporation is required within 48 hours within 300 feet.

Check tile outlets before and after manure application to know if there is a runoff occurring. Manure that gets in drainage systems will end up in surface or groundwater.

Too wet for daily haul manure? Try to find the best possible spot for temporary manure stacks. Avoid sandy soil, shallow to rock areas, wet areas and areas within 1000 feet of lakes and 300 feet of streams. Do not place manure piles on top of tile drains.

Have an emergency response plan. Anticipate what you will do if there is manure runoff from the field. Do you have phone numbers for an excavator, fire department, manure hauler or septic hauler with vacuum equipment? Do you have sand or soil available to create emergency dams and tile breaks.

If a runoff event occurs, self-report to the DNR spill hotline immediately. 1-800-943-0003

An accidental Spill is not illegal. Failure to report it is. For more information, contact the Manitowoc County Soil and Water Conservation Department at 920-683-4183.

Manure Application Field Day

About 135 people learned about manure application performance standards and County ordinances which aim to protect groundwater, on August 27, 2019 at Vogel Family Farms, LLC.

Participants observed low-disturbance manure application equipment demonstrations by Right Way Applications and Dvoracheck Farm & Industry, learned about InDepth Agronomy's new live-hazards map, and heard presentations from Manitowoc County Resource Conservationist, Tony Smith and NRCS District Conservationist, Matt Rataczak .

The event was coordinated by the Manitowoc County Forage Council's Water Quality Focus Team, UW-Extension Manitowoc County, and Manitowoc Co. Soil & Water Conservation Department. Click the video link above to see highlights of the day.

NR151 Runoff Management Targeted Performance Standards

Quick- Reference Tool will be posted on the Soil & Water Conservation's webpage soon.

You can also access Manitowoc County's Interactive Karst Map here: /index.html?appid=5fb4adc1b1b642c7ac7fbdb83b60570e

Manitowoc & Calumet Counties Partner for CalMan Watershed Project

The CalMan Lakes Watershed consists of four lakes located along the Calumet-Manitowoc County border in northeastern Wisconsin. The lakes are enjoyed by many sportsmen, swimmers, and nature enthusiasts from within and outside of Calumet and Manitowoc counties. However, recent algal blooms, invasive species issues, and fish kills have indicated that these lakes are in need of some serious help. The counties, along with various stakeholders such as the Brillion Conservation Club, Long Lake Advancement Association, lakeshore properties owners and others are partnering on several projects to improve and maintain a healthy watershed for future sportsmen and recreation enthusiasts to enjoy.

Implementation of the Cal-Man Lakes Watershed project is underway. Local farmers have been working with conservation staff from both counties to implement practices to reduce sediment loss and nutrient loading to the lakes. Larger projects are in the works, as funding is pursued. Some projects to date include:

- Engineered Waterways
- Nutrient Management Plans
- No till test plots

Click the link below to learn more about the plan.