On the call were Steve Oberle, Forest Jahnke, Shawn Esser, Andrew Craig, Mark Cain, and Andy Morton. Andrew Craig expressed that the purpose of the call was to improve communication between the DNR and Crawford Stewardship Project so we could all most effectively use our time. They suggested meeting quarterly to share information and address concerns! As new NMPs are due on March 31st of each year and spreading reports for previous crop year are due January 31st, it was suggested those (or slightly after to give Roth some leeway for being late as he often is, might be good times to meet.
When asked how they thought their communication with Roth was, he said “I don’t think we have a problem communicating with Mr Roth at all… I think we have good communication regarding these issues.”
Information was shared on the new SNAP Plus 2 program and details on how the WPDES forms and nutrient crediting systems work that was a bit over my head, but seemed to be helpful for Steve.
If soil samples are out of date, then P levels are set at 101ppm P and field must be managed accordingly (read: can still spread, but must be managed so that P levels are decreasing).
When the sheer quantity of animals and the small amount of acres was brought up, the DNR responded that nothing in WPDES permit that says that they must maintain a certain acres/animals ratio and that there are really no enforcement options there, though they have and will continue to ask Roth to find more acreage.
Shawn pointed out pages 54 + 55 of the NMP, which show that Roth is not even using all the land he has, and he has actually been spreading more manure his pigs are producing (from abandoning the old manure lagoon). It seems the reason we are seeing this nutrient buildup in some fields is that they are simply the closest and easiest and he does not feel like hauling to other fields.
What the DNR can enforce is the conditions in the NMP, namely: No spreading on fields over 200ppm Phosphorous, fields must remain below 6 Phosphorous Index (another way of measuring), and fields from 100-200ppm P must be spread upon at 50% of crop uptake, so they will be drawn down. When asked about the possibility of being granted exceptions to being over 200ppm P (which the DNR can grant at their discretion), Shawn Esser said that exemptions are rarely approved and he does not see any circumstance here where exemption would be granted.
When Karst features were brought up, Andy Morton said that in 2009 these were addressed based on the Soil Survey for the farm and that anywhere where there is less than two feet of soil over a karst feature, spreading is prohibited. He said that the farm’s current maps include such features. That he knows of, there are no county-wide karst surveys of karst features.
Forest brought up concerns that it was a bit disconcerting that spreading was allowed on sinkholes with two feet of soil on top of it and that this constituted a direct pathway for pollutants – like those that we have been finding through our monitoring program – to enter the water table. This was the first time they had heard of our monitoring results and surface water issues and they did not know who Kurt Rasmussen was. Shawn Esser would like to see our monitoring results, though it was mentioned that if we provided this to him, it would go into Roth’s file (where Roth would have access to see it). This was mentioned as a precaution to us by Andy Morton, though it seems more like an added benefit to Forest.
They also admitted that the spreading restriction maps are sadly outdated (though they didn’t seem overly concerned about it, saying that the restricted fields were obvious from the tables and charts) and said they would follow up and ask for updated maps.
Putting them on the spot, at one point Steve asked, “If we hadn’t done our review, would you have been aware that there were 11 fields over 200ppm P?” To which Andrew Craig answered surprisingly, “We may not have.” It seems as though some NMPs don’t even get looked at! Our scrutiny here is key in keeping the rules and regulations enforced.