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Crop Quest Inc.'s Blog
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December 2013

Welcome to Crop Quest Inc.'s blog! Our blog will be updated monthly with information about nutrient management, as well as updates about the company and what we do. 

Hello, and on behalf of Crop Quest; Welcome to December, also known as the start of “winter” in terms of manure application guidelines. We decided to take the opportunity to discuss winter manure application. 

We all know manure provides valuable nutrients to the soil. These same nutrients, as well as pathogens that may be found in manure can be harmful to the environment and contaminate drinking water. Manure can enter surface water as runoff, or groundwater through infiltration. With freezing and thawing ground in the winter, these risks are increased.  

What are the rules about winter application, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture & Food?

“The Nutrient Management Act, 2002, with its regulation O. Reg. 267/03 (Regulation) addresses two time periods that may or may not overlap. The first is based on calendar dates - December 1 to March 31 or "winter". The second period is 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. The Regulation is most restrictive for winter applications.”


Research shows that:
- the greatest risk of runoff and nutrient loss is when application occurs within 72 hours of a rainfall or snowmelt conditions
- manure applied in early winter (i.e. December) during dry conditions may have a lower risk of nutrient loss than manure applied on wetter or snow-covered conditions

Avoid spreading if the weather report indicates either precipitation is likely or temperatures that will result in snowmelt. Along with environmental concerns, for winter applications there are no growing crops present to absorb the nutrients. The increased risk of losses also means that fewer nutrients in winter-applied manure are available for crop production in the following season.

If you MUST spread, adjust where you apply, and lower application rates. For example, the setback distance should be increased if you cannot avoid applying in the winter. In the nutrient management regulations, the minimum setback for liquid manure application increases to 100 meters (330 ft) with winter application where slope to the watercourse is greater than 3%.

Enjoy the Holiday Season & have a safe and happy New Year!

 Amy VanStraaten
Communications & Media Relations
Certified Consultant / Planner


Crop Quest Inc.
Consultants Servicing all of Ontario
P.O. Box 357
74 Sylvia Street.
Mitchell, Ontario.

Toll Free: 1.866.630.2767
Office: 519.348.1121
Fax: 519.348.0030