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Winter Spreading Reminder
Amy VanStraaten, November 13th, 2017

This year, like every fall, we have questions from producers about winter spreading of manure. They wonder; what are their legal requirements ? What ARE they allowed to do, and when ?


Most producers are well aware of why these regulations exist, and we give everyone the benefit of the doubt that nobody sets out intending to create an adverse environmental impact, or to waste valuable nutrients by applying them when they will be lost from the soil before they can be used by the crop. Every Nutrient Management Strategy we prepare has a contingency plan included in the binder. It will address some of these concerns as well, and is personalized to your operation by your consultant. Feel free to give us a call anytime if you have questions or concerns about your legal requirements under the Nutrient Management Act.


See OMAF's factsheet on winter spreading here for full details.


Note: "Winter" is BOTH December 1 to March 31 OR any other time when the soil is frozen or snow-covered. (Frozen soil is any 5 cm layer of frozen moisture in the top 15 cm of soil. Snow-covered soil is soil with a layer of snow on the surface with an average minimum depth of 5 cm.)


Applying nutrients at the right time is one of the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship: apply nutrients at the right time, from the right source, at the right rate and in the right place. There are a number of methods that can ensure the right timing of nutrient application:

  • Increase your storage capacity if your farm produces liquid manure.

  • If your farm produces solid manure, look at options to store manure in either permanent or temporary storages.

  • Talk to your neighbours about short- and long-term arrangements for additional storage capacity.

  • Look into other operations that may take manure, such as a facility with an anaerobic digester, a mushroom farm or a manure broker.

  • Look at the weather forecast and delay applying if the forecast calls for rain or snow in the 72 hours after you plan to apply.

  • Allow for enough time, equipment and resources to apply at the best time.

  • Make sure application timing is a priority in farm management decisions; don’t leave it until it’s too late.

  • Create a good contingency plan that includes options for poor weather and emergencies.


If you must apply in the winter, choose where to apply based on reducing the potential for environmental impact.

  • Select fields covered by a living crop or crop residue, and located away from surface water or tile inlets

  • Do not apply to any land subject to flooding or where water collects, then flows into surface water.

  • Sloped fields in close proximity to surface water or tile drains are not suitable.If the manure is liquid, and the slope of the land is greater than three per cent, the required setback is 100 m from the top of the bank of the surface water.

  • The setback is also 100 m for the application of solid agricultural source material (manure) when the slope of the land is six per cent or more.

  • Never spread manure or ASM on vegetated buffer zones near surface water.

  • Reduce the application rate, apply the minimum amount of manure that enables you to store the rest of the manure until spring.


Please do let us know if you have any questions, our consultants are here to help, year round!


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