Challenging fall harvest conditions highlight need for proactive communication

By Lauren Brey for PPF

This year has been extremely challenging for farmers, and with record-setting rainfall continuing this fall, the obstacles are not going away.

Peninsula Pride Farms hosted a meeting on Sept. 30 about how to face the challenge of harvesting crops and spreading manure in a late and wet fall while protecting soil health and water quality. Farmers, agronomists, custom manure haulers, county conservation staff and state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff were in attendance.

Nathen Nysse, agronomist with Tilth Agronomy, facilitated the discussion. A panel of Door and Kewaunee county conservation staff and a DNR staff person shared their perspectives and answered questions.

Key themes from the meeting were proactive communication and accurate recordkeeping. Farmers who are unsure what avenue to take should contact the county conservation department to discuss options ahead of time.


Top 5 takeaways:

  1. Evaluate fields and monitor weather forecast prior to spreading. Use the DATCP Wisconsin Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast
    • Wet soils need to be checked. It is possible to apply to high spots in a wet field. If in doubt, contact your county conservation staff.
    • Take a screenshot of the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast if you want extra documentation.
    • Take photos before and after applying if applying around a wet spot to document conditions.
  2. Ensure you have accurate soil maps. If you want to verify soil depths, contact your county conservation staff to determine how to do this.
  3. Work with your agronomist to document any changes to your nutrient management plan and explain reasons for changes in the narrative.
  4. Understand NR 151 and how it affects your farm.
  5. If you’re anticipating issues (like a manure pit nearing capacity) and are unsure about what actions to take, contact the county conservation staff to discuss options.

When harvesting crops and spreading manure, it is important to keep the roads as clean as possible. It was recommended to keep a skid-steer near the field being harvested or fertilized.

In the event of a manure spill, immediately take action to stop the spill and then contact the DNR 24-hour Spill Emergency Hotline at 1-800-943-0003. Learn more about what to do in the event of a spill here.

Although it will be a late fall, don’t rule out the option of planting cover crops, particularly rye. Even if the plant does not grow prior to winter, it is likely to survive and could be harvested in spring for forage as well as take up plenty of nutrients, so manure could be applied after harvest in spring.

While the challenges won’t go away, it is important that farmers, custom operators, agronomists and conservation staff all communicate to find solutions.

Contact Door Co. staff Erin Hanson or Dale Konkol at 920-746-2214 or Kewaunee Co. staff can be reached at Davina Bonness at or 920-845-9743, and Travis Engels at or 920-845-9742.

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