County partners with farmers to manage manure

Farmers who agree must avoid spreading manure in winter
County partners with farmers to manage manure

Dane County continues to make a push to clean up the lakes, announcing a partnership with area farmers to reduce phosphorus spread in area lakes.

The Meffert dairy farm in Waunakee is your typical Wisconsin dairy farm. The family has 100 milking cows and they grow their own feed. The Mefferts are expanding the farm’s manure storage under a new, cost-sharing agreement with Dane County. They hope others will follow.

“Manure hauling in the winter is not fun,” said Jeff Meffert, whose family farm has been in Waunakee for generations.

“That is one of the challenges we are trying to address to help give more storage,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

Parisi visited the Meffert farm Thursday to announce a partnership with Dane County farmers to help manage winter manure storage.

“We are really looking for real nuts-and-bolts solutions to this issues,” Parisi said.

Farmers need to spread manure to help fertilize crops. The county wants less spreading in the winter to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering lakes during the spring thaw that phosphorus causes algae.

“This partnership is vital; no one can do this alone. We need our farm families who are working with us,” Parisi said.

The county will put $500,000 toward the program to help farmers cover the cost of building more storage options.

“A lot of people don’t understand. They think I just go out and haul manure whichever way the wind blows, but it is a science,” said Jeff Meffert.

He added, “We are doing a pretty good job. We just need to do a little better job with some things and this one was one them.”

“We are working together; we are able to show we are making progress toward our goal to reducing phosphorus and ultimately cleaning up our lakes while at the same time helping the farmers implement farming practices that they … know are going to improve the overall health of our environment,” Parisi said.

The farmers who agree to participate will also agree to avoid spreading manure in the winter and implement other phosphorus-reduction practices.

To help pay for this the county is offering interest-free loans and cost-sharing funds to help increase manure storage capacity.