Guests - If You want access to member only forums on HSO. You will gain access only when you sign-in or Sign-Up on HotSpotOutdoors.

It's easy - LOOK UPPER right menu.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
coyotewylde

Agricultural Runoff

54 posts in this topic

In the construction field, the EPA mandates that we install silt fence around disturbed soil or you face a stiff fine. Farmers on the other hand install miles of drain tile throught the fields with multiple intakes with no "Filters" to regulate the fertilizers, pesticides etc that run directly into our watershed and into our lakes & rivers. There are a select few who have Buffer strips along drainage ditches but my opinion is that is should be required by all! Also at each intake should have a buffer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No kidding! On Lura Lake near Mapleton - a farmers cornfield had eroded INTO a popular bass lake. The lake is so green and toxic that it stunk like a sewer, yet most fisherman in this area bury their head in the sand. I actually had someone say "Well, then don't fish there - that will mean more fish for me."

IT takes all kinds, I guess...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, it would be nice to have regulations in place or have payments from conservation programs high enough so that these practices may be more attractive to farmers. Contact your legislators at the state and federal level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are already regulations in place regarding tiling, as well as rules to meet for conservation programs. Part of the trouble is, the conservations programs are running out of money. Our county did not have the funds to reenroll every acre in CRP. We had to cut one CRP are almost in half, even though we thought it should all qualify.

I'll give a more detailed answer later, but right now I have to help the guys switch fields. I'll ask my hubby about some of the questions raised. He was a Soil and Water supervisor for 10 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem there is AG lobbiests! The BIG AG companies put BIG money in to sway our lawmakers!

Lets send some angry emails to collin peterson,Al Juhnkie,I believe their on AG commitees.

Get a law requireing them to protect waters! Just like the const laws!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe you have a legitimate issue with regard to tiling but before we go off the deepend bashing farmers we should first become educated about the issue and the laws that are in place to protect the watershed.

Unfortunately, I am not a source for that knowledge. What I can tell you is that there are a lot more laws in place than you or I may know about intented to protect our lakes, streams, rivers, and watershed from farm runoff. I'm sure there are some that apply to tiling too.

I know you can't just tile any old wetland at your leisure. With that said, the amount of runoff caused may not be as significant as we think relative to what it was before the tiling. At least in our area, the only tiling I see is used to help speed up the drying process to allow farmers to get onto the fields a few days earlier than they otherwise would. It's not that they are drying wetlands to convert into farmland.

With that said, I wonder how much filtration the soil itself provides. Most of us have tile around our basements too don't we? We also have oversized homes, paved driveways, etc., which means the water that would normally be soaked up and filtered by the land where our house stands is drained onto other areas and over-taxing those areas. I guess we can't get too high on our horse as we all contribute to the problem to some degree.

I'm hoping to see more from fishinchicks.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

80% of lakes deteroration is farm field runoff the other 20% is inpervious runoff,air polutants and faulty septic systems.

Of course there are other sources,Outboard motors,lakeowner weed control (herbicides)fish dieoffs etc. But 80% is a large portion! And there isnt much control in reguards to farming as to other disturbances ie Roads,construction,septic and even fertilizers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We need to enforce the laws on the books.

No farming within 50 feet of a protected water. State Law.

Required, a 16.5 foot buffer strip from the top of any public drainage ditch. Drainage Authorities can install these buffers then bill the landowners back retroactive. State Law

No manure application within 300 feet of lakes, streams, drainage ditches, or open tile inlets without incorporating in 24 hours. No manure applications in these areas in winter. State Law

No atrazine within 100 feet. Also State Law I believe.

Eroding land into public waters? Maintianing a public nusiance. State Law

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We need to enforce the laws on the books.

No farming within 50 feet of a protected water. State Law.

Required, a 16.5 foot buffer strip from the top of any public drainage ditch. Drainage Authorities can install these buffers then bill the landowners back retroactive. State Law

No manure application within 300 feet of lakes, streams, drainage ditches, or open tile inlets without incorporating in 24 hours. No manure applications in these areas in winter. State Law

No atrazine within 100 feet. Also State Law I believe.

Eroding land into public waters? Maintianing a public nusiance. State Law

What gets me are the new sewer filtration plants.They clean the sewage and put clean water back in our waterways. BUT then all the filtered sludge (HEAVY POLLUTANTS) are then land applied in farmfields as fertiziler! Only to enter the water ways unfiltered and as RAW SEWAGE. Now does this make sense??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you know that people will actually argue with you that restoring wetlands actually increases flooding. And installing pattern tiling acutally reduces flooding.

Did you know that there are Counties in the state that have passed rules involving "no net gain of wetlands".

You can have all the 'rah rah save the wetlands' chants and rallies that you want, but it's the paradigm of local authorities and landowners that needs to change in order for anything to be accomplished in this state and others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally Posted By: kobear
We need to enforce the laws on the books.

No farming within 50 feet of a protected water. State Law.

Required, a 16.5 foot buffer strip from the top of any public drainage ditch. Drainage Authorities can install these buffers then bill the landowners back retroactive. State Law

No manure application within 300 feet of lakes, streams, drainage ditches, or open tile inlets without incorporating in 24 hours. No manure applications in these areas in winter. State Law

No atrazine within 100 feet. Also State Law I believe.

Eroding land into public waters? Maintianing a public nusiance. State Law

What gets me are the new sewer filtration plants.They clean the sewage and put clean water back in our waterways. BUT then all the filtered sludge (HEAVY POLLUTANTS) are then land applied in farmfields as fertiziler! Only to enter the water ways unfiltered and as RAW SEWAGE. Now does this make sense??

It wouldn't make any sense if it was surface applied, left unincorporated and didn't follow the setbacks. However, MPCA is the lead authority on this and the material must be sampled, the soil in the field must be sampled by the municipality or company responsible for their public utilities, analyzed by a state approved lab and applications made at the rate determined by MPCA. In the case of the local municipality, all the material is knifed in. Not all the materials are leachable and applied properly, health threats are minimized. For instance, sewage sludge is not allowed on fields planted to canning crops such as field peas or sweet corn.

Funny this topic should come up. The guy responsible for the local wastewater treatment plant was just in our office yesterday inquiring about a location for sludge application. They had been applying on another field but apparently needed to switch locations. Have monitored both fields over the years and the material contains valuable amounts of phosphorus, zinc and potassium according to the results of soil tests following its application. It also contains a decent level of sulfur, not unlike many other manure sources. Will be interesting to see how the material tests this time especially to see what levels of cadmium and lead are present. One would suspect as the use of lead in our paint has declined, we no longer use leaded gasoline and plumbing fixtures continue to move away from lead components, we may see that one drop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

80% of lakes deteroration is farm field runoff the other 20% is inpervious runoff,air polutants and faulty septic systems.

Of course there are other sources,Outboard motors,lakeowner weed control (herbicides)fish dieoffs etc. But 80% is a large portion! And there isnt much control in reguards to farming as to other disturbances ie Roads,construction,septic and even fertilizers.

Please let me know where this 80% figure came from. I think we are dealing with some faulty information. 98% of statistics are made up on the spot smile

First, I grew up on a farm, and now work in the construction industry.

Properly installed Silt fence does not hold anything but dirt from moving, chemicals, paints, or other products can get through. I don't understand the correlation to holding dirt from eroding, and the switch to farmers allowing chemical runoff into lakes. We are comparing apples to oranges.

Farmers operate on very tight budgets. Why anyone would apply more chemicals to a field then are necessary, and could contribute to runoff is plain stupid. They need to keep the costs associated with any chemical low, and they do this by careful calculations and are required to have training to handle numerous chemicals. Tell me how many homeowners or golf courses are required to do the some. My bet from information I have read, are lawns contribute significantly higher amounts of chemicals then farmers do.

There are numerous organizations that oversee farmers. You cannot tile any land that has had a "water plant" naturally growing on it within the past 5 years (not 100% on the years). You are also required to get a permit for this work, and soil conservation will walk the land and make sure you are following regulations. It is not a free for all as some may think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote:
Did you know that people will actually argue with you that restoring wetlands actually increases flooding

I don't agree with that. I believe that tiling, buildings, roads, etc. actually increase potential flooding and also increases the intensity of the floods that occur. The water that normally would have to flow through vegetation, soil, etc. is now diverted to the waterways much more efficiently and faster and this increases the water volume over shorter periods of time.

Sparce,

Don't know where the 80% figure comes from or from when so I can't argue for or against it but I am inclined to think that the figure is related more to past practices than present. Also, even if the 80% figure is accurate, whick it could be, it doesn't mean that the runoff of today is nearly as significant a problem as it was say, 30 or 40 years ago.

Farmers employ much more precision in fertilizing, herbicide, and pesticide application than ever before. Not only because they have to by law but because they have to economically. Don't believe me? Just try farming using the practices of 30 years ago and see how long you could stay in business before going bancrupt. It's expensive to over fertilize and doesn't provide any additional ROI.

I say outlaw farming. That way some other entity can claim a majority of the runoff problem. I'm not saying that farming doesn't cause runoff for it must but it is not possible to reduce runoff to 0 nor would the resulting cost be acceptible to the general public.

We have to allow ourselves to accept the fact that we humans impact our environment and for the most part the impact is negative. That is a fact of life. All we can do is do our best with what we have to keep it as minimal as possible while still meeting our needs.

I need a shelter to live in but do I really need a 2,000 sq. ft. home to shelter my family of four? When I was a child we lived in a 980 sq. ft. home and there were nine of us yet I don't recall ever feeling crowded. I guess sharing a bedroom with two brothers seemed normal then. Not today when each person "needs" his own space. Need is a matter of opinion I guess.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of what my hubby said has already been addressed. I did take the time to read most of the 184 page report on the 2007 Water Quality Monitoring Report. It tests both ground water and surface water, water coming out of tile lines, and some ditches. The very short version: almost across the board, pesticide levels are declining in the water. They gave no opinion on why the trends show that, but I have mine. smile

Farming is a highly regulated industry, as has been said earlier. Anyone wanting to apply a chemical onto their field must take a class and become a licensed user. That also means they can keep track of who used what, and if they used the local agronomy center to apply, they know when. Tiling applications must be approved by at least one agency in our county, and a complete assessment has to be done before you call the tilers. You cannot just tile willy nilly anymore. They have cracked down on people who didn't get the proper permits, so they are not afraid to enforce the rules.

Some conservation programs, such as EQIP, require lengthy applications which tie certain Best Management Practices (BMP) to the funding. Basically, if you screw up, they take the money away. The EQIP program has a three page application, and about 11 pages of rules.

As farming becomes more technologically advanced, we are able to use more tests to determine how much fertilizer or herbicide to use. Most co-ops are able to use a variable rate fertilizer spreader that can apply the nutrients where they are needed according to soil samples. It also makes a difference that fertilizer has about doubled in price in the last year.

At our place, we farm organically now, but we still take soil samples as well as plant tissue samples before we apply manure. We also take samples of the manure so we know what nutrients are in the barns we are pumping from. All this leads to lesser amounts of fertilizers and chemicals sprayed.

I'm not saying that things are perfect, but look at how far we have come in the last 20 years. I truly believe it will only get better. When we use science to determine what the best practices are, we will be much farther ahead than if we just let emotion make the rules.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Farmers have it tough...and it can be a tough life...but times are changing.

My dad had a field right on the lake (he is retired now). He NEVER fertilized, sprayed, or anything for it was by the lake. He also left a wide strip of trees and brush by the shore for runoff of dirt.

Now, it is a large grassy spot with trees starting to grow on it. I hope it never gets developed....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another point. Farmers are not allowed to pile manure on just anywhere. My neighbor has a 300 head dairy operation. When he decided to expand from 150 to 300 he was required to meet certain minimum criteria with regard to how he would manage and handle the additional "fertilizer" that would result. Not only was he required to spend thousands building the necessary holding facility but he also had to contract enough land for which to dispose of, or in true cases, use it. Too much manure on a parcel of ground not only causes excessive runoff but can also be detrimental to proper plant growth. Try this. Take a bag of fertilizer and dump a pile in an inconspicuous spot on your lawn. I can assure you the lawn will die. It just isn't economically or ecologically sound to over-apply fertilizers or other chemicals.

Bob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote:
Another point. Farmers are not allowed to pile manure on just anywhere.

That in itself has helped alot with the water quality.As a former dairy farmer, we always injected into the ground ( 10-14") and still had to stay the required distances from tile inlets, drainage ditches, ect..

One thing that has also helped is that alot of darmers are removing the tile inlets from their fields.

I used to have 10 inlets on 240 acres, now there is one, and that is at the building site. The low spots may take another day or 2 to drain after a huge rainfall, but they still get the job done. But there are still a few who insist have having inlets everywhere and convincing them to change is like pulling teeth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No they could be like the farmer up near Fergus Falls whos cattle simply stand in the lake when they do their business

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally Posted By: Papa Grump

No they could be like the farmer up near Fergus Falls whos cattle simply stand in the lake when they do their business

Seems there's alot of defence from farmers here. Then where are the nutrients in our waters comming from? If farmers are so conscious and regulated?

Nitrogen is not measured here in Mn.So what's with the dead zone in the gulf? and its caused by excessive nitrogen runoff entering our waters and ending in the gulf? OUT OF SITE OUT OF MIND?? Its not my problem? Whats the main fertilizer for corn?what is the largest crop in the midwest? Do you see a correlation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A video I took this summer of Lake Lura - notice in the beginning the cornfield eroding directly into the lake.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a guy who deals with this issue for a living doing some fact checking for me, but won't be able to get back to me until this coming week. I have sat in on water quality meetings dealing with Total Maximum Daily Loads, which detail the science behind the studies. They have shown that it is not totally an agricultural problem for pollutants in the waterways. There are more sources of pollutants than just agricultural. They are finding that fecal coliform bacteria strains are coming from deer herds, and cities who are improperly handling their water treatment plant discharge.

There is also the problem of city storm sewer drainage being dumped directly into streams and rivers, carrying with it all sorts of debris along with lawn fertilizers.

There is still work to be done to clean up our waters, no one has said any different. However, we all share that burden. To put the blame solely on one entity is wrong. As my hubby likes to say, don't complain with your mouth full. smile

Mongo, have you contacted the Blue Earth Soil and Water office? It looks to me like Lake Lura is within the Maple River Watershed, which is run by the Blue Earth SWCD. They would be the ones that would want to know about this guy. From reading the posts about Lake Lura, it almost sounds as if you have turned a concern into a vendetta of sorts. Hope I am wrong. I hope it is just a little frustration showing through.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some of the sources of runoff pollution fishinchicks mentioned are big contributors. Storm sewer runoff from even smallish cities of 5,000 to 10,000 can drop loads of nutrients from lawn fertilizers into waterways, not to mention the impacts of larger and major cities.

I worked in the lawn/landscaping business for several years and was one of the people applying chemicals to urban lawns.

Also, as lakes become more and more urbanized and developed, the same types of runoff go directly into them. The northern Minnesota lake we've had our family cabin on for more than 25 years has had significant increases in submerged vegetation as well as reduced water clarity. It only happened after the chain of lakes got more developed, with lots of lawns that look like the Twin Cities suburbs and folks applying all those chemicals to keep their lawns green, and the water that goes with it helping the excess chemicals enter the lake.

I'm not trotting out the tired old argument about the changing lake country, just pointing out that there are MANY sources of water pollution.

I don't have the current specs any longer because it's been quite a few years since I was in the environmental activist field, but it would not surprise me at all if urban storm sewer runoff pollution has been increasing more than its agricultural counterpart. It's the cities that are expanding as Minnesota becomes increasingly urbanized.

Sparce, I'm not buying your 80 percent figure.

Regardless where the majority of runoff pollution comes from, it's a problem, has been a problem for a long time and will be a problem in to future. I think we all agree water quality is something worth fighting for. All the sources must be addressed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your source considers our farm a "factory farm", even though it is owned and run by my father in law and hubby, and myself. Because we have hogs, and run around 1000 acres, we are evil. Doesn't matter that we farm it all organically, and have been certified organic for over 10 years. Groups like this make me very wary. They play on emotion and ideals more than anything.

Read the 2007 Water Quality Report that was published in August. You can find it on the Mn Dept of Ag HSOforum. Three lakes in the Willmar area are test lakes for their surface water tests. You might find it interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sparce, here's the quote from the link you mentioned: "In the 2000 National Water Quality Inventory conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agricultural activity was identified as a source of pollution for 48% of stream and river water, and for 41% of lake water."

Here's your quote: "80% of lakes deteroration is farm field runoff the other 20% is inpervious runoff,air polutants and faulty septic systems."

The EPA quote indicates that ag activity is "a" source of pollution, not the only source. The language of your quote states it's the only source.

You can't add 48 percent and 41 percent in this case and get to 80 percent (or even 89 percent, which would be the correct addition), because the figures are for different types of waterways, and your quote mentioned only lakes. If you wanted a more accurate combined figure for ag pollution into streams/rivers/lakes, you could average the two and come up with about 44 percent. But in order to get a really accurate average, you'd have to weight the average by taking into account how many gallons of water there are in the streams/rivers vs the lakes. At any rate, you can't add the lakes and the streams/rivers figure to come up with a lakes figure.

And naming ag pollution as simply one source of pollution in 48 percent of the nation's streams/rivers and 41 percent of lakes means ag is a contributing pollution source for less than half the lakes, rivers and streams of the nation, and that, even for the waters that are polluted by ag operations, those operations are only one source, and there are other sources.

To turn it around, it's accurate to say that, as stated in a 2000 EPA report, agriculture played no role in the pollution of more than 50 percent of the nation's waterways, and that those it did pollute also received pollution from other sources.

You didn't say in your post that you were talking about a national figure. I was thinking in terms strictly of Minnesota in this thread, and I have been unable to find MPCA stats that compare the percentages of pollution caused by different sources. Also, those figures are now eight years old.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0