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Environment & Climate Change

State cracking down on manure pollution

Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
A Michigan hog farmer injects liquid manure into his field.

Large animal farms will no longer be allowed to give or sell excess manure to smaller farms between the months of January and March.

Brad Wurfel is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.  He says the larger farms know not to do this, but sometimes the smaller farms will spread the manure on frozen, snow-covered fields. 

"And then around the spring thaw, we get discharges to lakes and streams."

Manure is a big contributor to the growth of cyanobacteria, and it can cause die-offs of fish.

"We didn't see any massive fish kills (during) either of the last two springs,"says Wurfel. "But the discharges did happen. You don't want manure in surface water, period."

Wurfel says there are other options available to the large farms. Those include building extra facilities during the summer months to store the waste, paying a neighboring farm that has storage capacity to take the waste, or paying a wastewater treatment facility to treat it.

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