The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offers general reminders to the state’s producers regarding manure storage and land application during the drought of 2012. The DNR says cracks in the soil can provide a near-direct line for manure to reach a stream. The same weather conditions can also cause problems in earthen basins used to store manure.

“We don’t want to add to livestock farmers’ stress levels, but we’ve had similar conditions a few years ago and had several fish kills and water quality problems,” says Cindy Martens, an environmental specialists in the DNR’s Spencer, IA, field office. ‘Farmers think it’s dry and the liquid manure will just soak in. They may want to irrigate to provide moisture to the crop, but often they don’t realize how fast it can travel straight to a tile line and then into a stream. We just want people to be aware that it can be a problem, so they can do something about it.”

Martens says problems are most likely to occur when farmers start to irrigate a crop or spread liquid manure on alfalfa or pastures. “I’ve also seen problems in dry years with a gated pipe going from a basin to a crop field,” she states. “And some of our field staff are seeing big cracks in the walls of earthen basins.”

The Iowa DNR offers dry-weather application tips online at