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We have heard a lot lately about storm water control and the potential for causing stream water quality problems as a result of farming operations. When it rains, clean rainwater can mix with mud, manure and other contaminants and become wastewater. All farms are required to have a Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Plan, which is the first step toward making certain you do not have a problem with runoff.
To manage storm water on your farm you have to divert rainwater from production areas to keep it clean and to reduce the volume of wastewater. To stay in compliance with the Clean Water Act, agricultural operations must manage wastewater in a way that creates no discharge to surface water resources.
Here are some appropriate practices you can use to manage storm water:
- Use gutters on buildings or use underground outlets to redirect rainwater
- Use vegetative filter strips. Fence off the banks of waterways or ponds to filter any runoff before it reaches the water. A good thick grass strip does an amazing job of filtering nutrients out of the runoff before it makes its way into ponds and streams.
- Use detention or retention structures for slow release of rainwater after a storm
- Use hardened structures like rock-lined ditches and grade stabilization structures
- Check to make sure dams that divert storm water away from animal production and waste storage facilities can also prevent soil erosion associated with high storm water runoff.
By diverting clean water away from production areas, you can reduce the amount of wastewater you have to contain or manage. Managing storm water conserves wastewater storage space, creates a drier environment for animals and reduces odors-all of which will help improve the efficiency of your livestock operation and save you money.
Most Agriculture Water Quality Plans require that you sample soil on fields on which you plan to apply manure gathered from barns, feeding pens, etc. This assures that the application of manure year after year does not cause the field to become too nutrient rich to handle additional application resulting in runoff and potential fines. Now is a good time to take samples prior to getting busy with winter feeding, then spring planting, haymaking and other tasks that cause us to put off taking these important samples.
While on the subject of streams and water quality, the Kentucky Department of Natural Resources asked that we make farmers aware that taking gravel from waterways is illegal without a permit. While creeks can be an inexpensive source of gravel, sand or rock, taking it out without a permit can be very costly as citations with fines of up to $5,000 per day can result. This does not mean you can’t utilize the stream as a source, it means you need to get the permit and abide by the rules established by the DNR. Before removal from any waterway contact the DNR at (502) 564-2340 and ask for the non-coal branch.
A reminder again that we are approaching the deadline for submitting receipts for the County Agriculture Improvement Program (CAIP) cost share. All receipts and paperwork must be received at the extension office by Dec. 14. If you are submitting seed or lime receipts you must also have a soil sample of the fields planted or lime applied. A sample from anytime this year is acceptable. If you have not sampled yet, bring your soil sample to the office as soon as possible as it may take several weeks to get results back. Don’t wait until the last minute to bring your receipts in. We have had many farmers bring in incomplete information requiring them to obtain additional items called for by the Kentucky Ag Development fund rules. Bring your receipts in early so we can make sure everything is in order. We don’t want to see anyone miss out because they didn’t submit everything on time.
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