With snow melting and rain falling on frozen soil, Wisconsin’s Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is completely pink, meaning the risk of manure runoff is severe statewide.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection encourages farmers to keep that in mind as they consider emptying manure storage that may be full. Spreading manure while the risk of runoff is severe could cause manure runoff into streams, threatening water quality.

At the click of a mouse, farmers can check the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast at manureadvisorysystem.wi.gov for the latest information on spreading risks. The runoff forecast provides maps showing short-term runoff risk for daily application planning. It takes into account soil saturation and temperature, weather forecast, snow and crop cover, and slope. It’s updated three times daily by the National Weather Service.

“It’s always a bad idea to spread manure during high-risk runoff times, and we strongly advise against it,” said Richard Castelnuovo, chief of resource management with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Farmers should contact crop consultants, county land-conservation offices or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for help in identifying alternatives to high-risk spreading. Alternatives include stacking manure away from lakes or rivers, drinking water wells, or areas with sinkholes or exposed bedrock. If farmers must spread manure, crop consultants and county conservationists can help identify fields where the risk is less. Visit wisconsinlandwater.org for information on county conservation offices.

Farmers should always have an emergency plan in place in case of manure spills or runoff. The plan should include who to call and what steps to take if runoff or a spill occurs, how to clean it – and perhaps most important how to prevent it from happening. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search for “manure” for information about preventing and planning for manure spills.