The spring runoff season in ND this year has been relatively quiet. After dealing with record snowfall and spring runoff the last three springs, we have finally been experiencing a more normal if not below normal spring runoff event. During the winter of 2010-2011, snowfall amounts averaged around 80 inches across the state. The official numbers are not available for the current winter of 2011-2012 but I would be willing to place the total snowfall around 10-15 inches and that may be high.
After visiting with the folks at USGS earlier this week, they have collected only a handful of runoff samples from the three Discovery Farm sites. They mentioned how this spring they have been operating under a more normal routine versus being in a 24hr a day flood and emergency mode they experienced the previous three springs.
Another interesting twist to the mild winter was brought to my attention last week as well. We have had the manure from the Carrington Research Extension Center livestock unit custom-applied both in the spring and fall the last three years. Before hiring an applicator, we need to send out bid letters and hope to get at least two back so we can justify the hire. Most years, the haulers are very busy and it can be a challenge to hire one on a timely basis.
However, with the current mild winter, bedding use was less, leading to significantly less manure accumulation in the pens. When I checked with the livestock unit manager about initiating the hauling bid process, I was told we will have enough land access to pile and compost most of this past winter’s manure and therefore, won’t need to hire a custom applicator until fall. Several days after that conversation, I got a call from a local custom manure hauler who was looking for work. That was one impact of a mild winter I never thought of before.
If you have questions about this entry or Discovery Farms, please contact Ron Wiederholt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-652-2951.