Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Fertilizer Rule Brings Regulations Further Downstream

On February 16, 2013, the Fertilizer Use Rule promulgated by the Office of the Indiana State Chemist went into effect. The new rule has some important components that are new to many Hoosier farmers. The most notable change from prior law is that the rule is applicable to everyone, not just large regulated livestock farms. (If you apply less than 10 cubic yards or 4,000 gallons of fertilizer or manure per year, you remain exempt.  But for all other farmers applying fertilizer or manure for the production of crops, this rule applies.)  Here are some important parts:

1. Manure Application Plan. All persons subject to the rule must develop a manure application plan that establishes practices based upon: agronomic rates, including consideration of soil fertility levels, crop need and availability of nutrients from fertilizer or other sources. Fertilizer or manure applications must be done in accordance with the plan.

2. Staging and Setbacks. Fertilizer or manure may not be applied directly onto surface water or saturated ground. If you stockpile fertilizer or manure for later application, it must be tarped if not applied within 72 hours. Manure cannot be staged on land with a slope greater than 6%. Manure cannot be staged within 100 feet of a property line or public road, and must be at least 400 feet from a residential building.

3. Manure Application Setbacks. The new rule provides the following minimum setbacks.

4. Frozen and Snow-Covered Ground Restrictions. Last year’s new confined feeding operation (CFO) rule provided new restrictions for land application in the winter. The fertilizer use rule applies to small farmers as well, even if they are not an approved CFO or CAFO. The rule states that application of manure on frozen or snow-covered ground is allowed, but only if:
a. No application occurs within 200 feet of surface waters;
b. No application occurs in a floodway;
c. The application rate is one-half the normal agronomic rate;
d. The application occurs on land with less than 2% slope; and
e.  The land has at least 40% crop reside or a vegetative cover crop.
Anyone subject to the new rule should consult the State Chemist's office, an attorney, or an agricultural consultant to insure they are in compliance with the new rule.  This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as the final interpretation of the rule. It is not yet known what sort of penalties will be assessed for non-compliance, but you don't want to be the person who finds out.

By Todd Janzen

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