January 5, 2017 - 7:38am -- lewandowski.11@...

          The Wayne County Extension office in partnership with the Wayne County Farm Bureau, Wayne County SWCD and NRCS, the Wayne County Ag Success Team and the Wayne-Ashland Dairy Service Unit will be conducting a survey of Wayne County dairy farms to determine the current manure storage capacity on farms.  The purpose of the survey is to gather base-line information regarding how prepared Wayne County dairy farms are to comply with Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) type of clean water/nutrient management legislation.

            Currently SB1 legislation covers the Western Lake Erie Basin and contains specific provisions regarding manure application and prohibitions against application of manure during winter months and when soils are saturated.  For many dairy farms construction of additional manure storage has been necessary to comply with these regulations.  The law provided medium sized facilities (200-699 dairy cattle) a year to comply with the regulations.  The dairy farm manure storage survey is designed to collect information regarding the type of manure storage present on dairy farms along with the storage capacity and typical manure application timing.  Additionally, some information about the degree of financial hardship that would be experienced if legislation similar to SB 1 was extended to Wayne County will be collected.

            The data collected with assistance from participating dairy farms will be shared with the project partners mentioned previously.  A goal is to use the data collected to engage in conversations with legislators and other elected officials.  It is hoped that this base-line data with provide legislators with a better informed understanding of the on-farm situation that will guide them as they craft water quality/nutrient management legislation, including compliance time frames, and avoid unintended consequences for agriculture.  In addition, the information collected regarding the financial cost and hardship that will be incurred by adding additional manure storage will be used to establish the need for funding to accompany clean water/nutrient management legislation.

            The survey is short (1-page front and back) and should take most farms no more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete.  The survey will be mailed out from the Wayne County Extension office in early January with an accompanying cover letter written by Janessa Hill, an Ohio University graduate student who designed the survey as part of her graduate studies requirement.  The survey will include an addressed, stamped envelope that can be used to return surveys to the Wayne County Extension office by February 6.  No individual farms will be identified in survey responses; all survey response information will be aggregated and anonymous.

          Dairy farmers are encouraged by survey project partners to take the time to fill out the survey and mail it back.  Questions about the manure survey project can be directed to Ohio University student Janessa Hill, janessarhill89@gmail.com or Wayne County Extension Educator Rory Lewandowski, lewandowski.11@osu.edu , or by phone at: 330-264-8722.