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Before applying manure, check the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast

Minnesota map Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool

By: Chryseis Modderman, Extension educator

Ding! It’s dawn and I get a text from the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast telling me, “Areas in my county are under severe runoff risk for today.” I click the link and zoom in on the GIS map to see that, yup, my whole area is likely to experience snow melt, and therefore, runoff; today might not be a good day to apply manure. I’m glad I opted into text alerts to tell me, so I don’t waste time and resources applying a nutrient source that’s going to run off and be useless to my crops and possibly end up in a waterway.

The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is a free online tool that compiles data from weather forecasts and local weather stations to help farmers and commercial applicators determine the best time to apply manure. This tool doesn’t just take precipitation into account to predict runoff, it also looks at soil temperature, soil moisture content, and snow accumulation and melt. In addition to runoff risk forecasted up to 72 hours in the future, it also provides a precipitation forecast and soil temperature for 2-inch and 6-inch depths. The interactive map allows you to zoom in to view the runoff risk for your specific location.

You may also choose to get text or email alerts about runoff risk in your county. Any time your area shows moderate or severe risk, you should assess the situation and decide if manure application can wait, or if there are other areas that would be better to apply to with lower general runoff risk (such as flatter slopes or farther from waterways and sensitive features).

To use the map, click on the link above and select “Runoff Risk Forecast in your area.” You can also click the “Sign Up for Runoff Risk Alerts” link to activate text or email alerts. For more help you can click on the “How to use this map” tab on the map.

The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool is a joint effort of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the National Weather Service and is paid for with Clean Water Funds. It is part of a larger regional project to provide this kind of tool in other states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan.

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