USDA's Farm Service Agency is allowing farmers to apply manure to CRP land in situations where there's no place else to apply because of weather this year. "We've been asking USDA officials in Washington for waivers and they've been very accommodating because of flooding and related problems," says Derryl McLaren, head of FSA in Iowa.
The manure waiver allowing manure to be applied to CRP land expires July 31. "It's broad-based, you can apply either liquid or solid manure, and anyone in this situation should contact the county FSA office to get permission and other details," he says. "You also need to contact Iowa DNR if you are required to have a manure management plan because there are some records you must keep in your plan."
You can apply with FSA approval
Iowa DNR officials say you can apply manure to CRP if you have FSA approval and comply with Iowa DNR regulations. The only reason you'd want to put manure on CRP land is if the pits are full and you don't have cropland available to apply manure.
So the FSA office is your first stop, then DNR should be notified. "It makes the most economic sense for farmers to apply manure to cropland, but we know that isn't always an option this time of year and there are emergency situations where manure storage is full," says Chuck Corell, water quality bureau chief for Iowa DNR.
Permanent grass on CRP ground is great for taking up manure. With the grass, you don't get runoff like you would on bare crop fields, so there's less chance of manure washing off in a heavy rain and ending up in a creek.
"We agree, put the manure on cropland if you can, where it will do the most good," says Corell. "But if you can't apply it there, the CRP land is going to be a good place to go with it."
If you are a big enough livestock producer to be required to have a manure management plan, you have to amend the plan if you apply manure to CRP. You don't have to send DNR the amendment, but you must keep a copy of the amendment in your manure management plan records.
Waiver in effect through July 31
"That's so if we happen to stop by for an inspection you can show us the amended manure management plan," says Corell. "Make sure you write down the acres and how much manure you applied and where you applied it. You don't have to send us anything ahead of time, but you do need to contact DNR and make sure you are complying with the state of Iowa's rules as well as those of FSA. For example, you have to maintain separation distances from wells and streams, and you can only apply a certain amount per acre."
The biggest requirement on applying manure to CRP land has already been taken care of by FSA, says Corell. The big restriction on manure on CRP acres is that it is prohibited by the CRP contract. But this year in Iowa, FSA is allowing farmers to do it through the end of July.