Learn how to use a free decision support tool for short-term planning of manure application.

By Meaghan Gass, Michigan Sea Grant, and Erica Rogers, Michigan State University Extension

A tractor pulls a container spreading manure in a field.

Utilizing manure as a fertilizer source can be a cost-effective way for farmers to meet crop nutrient needs and, with effective application, be environmentally sustainable. Photo: Erica Rogers

Are you a farmer applying manure or commercial fertilizer to your farm fields? You are invited to attend a free webinar to learn more about the MI EnviroImpact Tool.

The MI EnviroImpact tool is a decision support tool for short-term manure application planning that shows daily runoff risk across Michigan. The tool’s runoff risk forecast comes from real-time precipitation and temperature forecasts, which are combined with snow melt, soil moisture, and landscape characteristics in order to forecast runoff events. With the tool, farmers can better determine when to apply manure as a fertilizer source with lower runoff risks.

Planning reduces runoff risk

Nutrients found in manure and commercial fertilizers, like nitrogen and phosphorus, can enter rivers and streams as runoff, and in Michigan, almost all of our waterways flow to the Great Lakes. When it rains, these nutrients have the potential to wash into nearby waterways, leading to excess nutrients and overgrowth of algae or harmful algal blooms. These algal blooms can have a big impact on the Great Lakes watershed as they consume oxygen that fish need to survive and can affect the quality of drinking water. With manure application planning, farmers are able reduce the risk of nutrient runoff and help better protect the Great Lakes.

Manure application is just one possible source of excess algal growth, but with proper planning, farmers can help keep applied manure nutrients on their fields and reduce runoff entering the Great Lakes.

A computer screenshot shows what the EnviroImpact Tool looks like with a specific day's forecast shown.

Register for the free webinar

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant are hosting a FREE webinar to support farmers with their manure application planning on Wednesday, Jan. 23 from 12-12:30pm (with additional time for questions). Visit http://bit.ly/MIEnviroImpactWebinar to register for the webinar. The webinar will be recorded and sent to all registrants, but attending the live webinar is encouraged to get any of your questions answered directly by experts.

If you have any questions or accessibility needs, please contact Erica Rogers (email: roger392@msu.edu or by phone: (989) 875-5233).

The Michigan EnviroImpact Tool was developed in partnership with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, the Michigan State University Institute of Water Research, Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension. The tool is part of a regional effort to improve runoff risk decision support tools in the Great Lakes basin supported by the Environmental Protection AgencyGreat Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), and National Weather Service North Central River Forecast Center (NCRFC).

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.