A field must have greater than 25% crop residue cover or a cover crop to be eligible for winter manure spreading, along with other restrictions. Photo credit: Charlie White
Spreading manure in the winter is discouraged because it is a high risk time period for nutrient losses and contamination of surface water. If wintertime manure spreading is absolutely unavoidable on your farm, following the regulations for winter spreading in Pennsylvania will help to reduce the risk of nutrient losses. Winter is defined as any of the following three conditions:
Below are guidelines that must be followed when spreading manure during winter periods. These guidelines apply to farms operating under a Manure Management Plan, which are typically smaller, less intensive operations. Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) that are regulated under Act 38 or permitted Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) should consult their Nutrient Management Plan to determine allowable winter spreading practices.
Winter spreading of manure is a practice that is under intense scrutiny because of the elevated risks for nutrient losses and its effect on water quality. Some states in the region have even outlawed winter manure spreading altogether. Increasing manure storage capacity to alleviate the need for winter spreading is the most preferred management practice. Use wintertime spreading as a last resort and be sure to follow the above guidelines to reduce the risk for nutrient losses when doing so.