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Specialist says New Fertilizer Rule is Good Producer Protection

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A new set of fertilizer application regulations from the Office of the Indiana State Chemist helps ensure proper nutrient management and protects farmers and the environment, and the rule goes into effect February 16th. Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager says the rules are common sense and most producers are already practicing many of the nutrient management and environment preserving measures.

“Things like stay 10 feet away from a road, stay 50 feet away from a tile inlet and those kinds of things, a common sense approach. What the new rule is basically doing is kind of formalizing that a little bit, and it’s giving the state chemist’s office who is responsible for oversight of this program and those of us in extension, an opportunity to remind our producers let’s do this right, ok, and it is common sense.”

The rule applies to anyone who uses fertilizer for the purpose of producing an agricultural crop, with the exception of those who apply less than 10 cubic yards in a year. Large permitted livestock operations that perform liquid nutrient applications already fall under the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Confined Feeding Operation laws. The new Office of the Indiana State Chemist (OISC) rule extends to smaller producers who would mostly apply solid manure.

Lemenager feels the record keeping aspect of the rule is one that is important for producers.

“The fact that you keep records and you do everything by due diligence and you’ve taken the common sense approach, and you’ve done what’s right, occasionally Mother Nature is going to throw a heavy rain in a very short period of time and something might enter into the waters of Indiana. Having the records and showing the due diligence and the good stewardship of the land, heaven forbid that something would get into the waters, this would also be a protection in case somebody questions what you’ve done or has some litigation against your operation.”

The new rule requires both inorganic fertilizers and manure to be staged at least 300 feet away from surface water, water wells and drainage inlets. Neither can be staged in a waterway, floodway or standing water. Manure must also be staged at least 100 feet from property lines and public roads, and 400 feet from residential buildings.

Inorganic fertilizers cannot be applied directly to water, from a public road or to saturated ground.

Manure application comes with setback restrictions that depend on manure type and application method. For example, solid manure applied via single-pass incorporation would have to be applied 500 feet from public water supplies, 25 feet from surface waters, 25 feet from sinkholes, 50 feet from water wells and 5 feet from drainage inlets.

Record keeping can be as simple as recording whether setbacks were followed, where and how much manure was applied, the number of acres covered and whether a soil test was completed recently to adjust any commercial fertilizer applications.

Lemenager and his colleagues created a quick reference and record-keeping sheet, which is available for free download.

The full details of the new fertilizer rule along with a setback table and a list of frequently asked questions is available through the OISC. [audio:http://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/New-fertilizer-rules.mp3|titles=New fertilizer rules]Source: Purdue Ag Communications