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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A River Runs Through the Manure

There's much to read in between the lines of this recent Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources press release:

Its headline reads:  "Bumper Bass Crop One More Reason to Land Spread Manure Carefully."  (Showing real new media savvy, the DNR released this to "agricultural media" first.)

The agency crows about the "bumper" small mouth bass crop in 2012, which they attribute to "hot and dry years."  Rat is a rodent expert, not a fisheries expert, but I'm not sure it's just "hot and dry" that helped out the baby bass last year.  DNR's tying that good news with a warning about manure spreading is a little hint.

Translation: the bass probably did well in a "hot and dry" year like 2012 because we had a drought. The lack of snow and rain meant no manure was flushed into the rivers via water running off the land.

Why is DNR talking about this now?  T'is the season for manure to run off the fields and to the rivers, where it will kill the baby bass.  Farmers spread manure like there's no tomorrow this time of year.  The ground is still frozen and supports the heavy weights of tractors and spreaders. Farmers with storage pits that have been filling up over the winter empty them now, fast.  Those who don't have pits have already been spreading, all winter long.

That manure is just sitting on top of the frozen ground. When the snow melts or it rains at this time of year, when the ground is still frozen, that manure ends up in the rivers. 

Above-freezing temps are predicted for the coming days.  So is rain.  We rats wish you well this spring, baby bass.