Written by Christine Brown, Deanna Nemeth and Kathryn Carter (OMAFRA)
Spring is in the air in Niagara, and many grape growers are taking the opportunity to start piling manure in preparation for application to vineyards. The application of manure to vineyards provides many benefits including increased organic matter, increase in macro nutrients and improving the soils water holding capacity and infiltration rates.
While manure can provide excellent benefits to the crop, it should be stored in a place to minimize the risk of contaminating water sources and prevent complaints from neighbours and local residents. With the frequent heavy rainfalls that we have seen in the last few weeks, safe storage is critical, as it also will save growers money, and manure wash away in the rain.
Here are some guidelines to help determine the best place for temporary storage of manure.
- More bedding in the manure results in a greater dry matter content, which means the manure will be less likely to move;
- Nutrient-rich manure runs the risk that some of the nutrients will move due to leaching or volatization. Concentrated manure would ideally by stored until field application on a concrete pad, where runoff is collected or prevented through coverage.
- A tiled field is not the best location for a manure pile. Temporary storage should be at least three metres (10 feet) between the edge of the pile and the nearest tile drain. Storages should also be located away from exposed bedrock, and drainage/irrigation ditches.
- Avoid placing manure piles too close to neighbours or public areas (roads). No one likes a manure pile beside their property, especially if there are odours or flies associated with them. It should take about two to three minutes to walk to a temporary storage from the edge of a filed (100 m from the edge of field or 125 m from the nearest residence).
- Manure piles need to stay away from water, whether a lake, river or watercourse, a catch basin or areas where water flows or floods during spring melts.
- Covering storage isn’t very practical for short-term manure storage, however it might be considered if there is an increased risk for an adverse affect.
- In most vineyards temporary storage of manure lasts only a few weeks, until weather conditions are appropriate for application. While growers don’t always have a choice on the timing of delivery or when the can apply the manure (weather), it is always best to get the manure on as quickly as possibly to minimize environmental risk and unwanted attention.
- Avoid applying manure when the potential for run off is high (soil is wet, rain is imminent, etc.)
Proper temporary storage of manure can help to reduce the environmental risks associated with manure, and can improve relations with neighbours. For additional information refer to OMAFRA Factsheet, Temporary Field Storage of Solid Manure or Other Agricultural Source Materials: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/10-039.htm
Manure pile near vineyard