With the tool, farmers can better determine when to apply manure as a fertilizer source with lower runoff risks.
By Meaghan Gass and Erica Rogers
Are you a farmer applying manure to your farm fields? Then your help is needed to test the Michigan EnviroImpact tool.
The MI EnviroImpact tool is a decision-support tool for short-term manure application planning that shows daily runoff risks 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.
Reducing risk of runoff
Nutrients found in manure and commercial fertilizers, such as 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, which can cause an excess of nutrients and lead to algae overgrowth, 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 source of harmful algal blooms, but with proper planning, farmers can help keep applied manure nutrients on their fields and reduce runoff entering the Great Lakes.
Pilot program seeks farmers to help
Currently, tool developers are recruiting farmers to pilot the MI EnviroImpact tool. If you are interested in piloting the tool and sharing a testimonial, please contact Erica Rogers (email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Phone: 989-875-5233, ext. 5296). Farmer input and feedback could be used in promotional materials to highlight the tool and how farmers can use it as a decision support tool to reduce runoff risk.
The Michigan EnviroImpact Tool was developed in partnership with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, 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 Agency, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and National Weather Service North Central River Forecast Center.