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Smart snowmelt management for efficient farm operations

Smart snowmelt management for efficient farm operations

By Scout Nelson

Effective management of snowmelt and spring rains is crucial for maintaining a safe and productive farm. Kevin A. Janni, an Extension Agricultural Engineer, emphasizes the importance of strategic planning to prevent potential issues arising from these seasonal challenges. 

After Snowfall Actions  

  • Remove Deep Snow: Clear snow from exercise lots, feeding areas, and traffic lanes to reduce water accumulation. Ensure that manure or feed is not removed with the snow unless it's properly applied to cropland. 
  • Pile Snow Strategically: Place snow piles in locations where melting will not aggravate flooding in sensitive areas. 
  • Check Manure Storage Pits: Secure pump-out covers on manure pits to prevent runoff from entering and reducing storage capacity. 

Before Winter Actions  

  • Divert Drainage: Examine farmstead drainage patterns and redirect water flow away from key areas using slopes or ditches. 
  • Manage Roof Runoff: Install gutters and downspouts, and grade ground to direct water away from buildings. Trenches or ditches can be effective for barns without gutters. 
  • Add Pads or Geotextile Fabrics: Use concrete or geotextile pads near feed bunks and waterers to keep animals dry. Geotextile fabrics can also stabilize traffic lanes. 
  • Raise Your Grade: Position buildings, feed, and bedding storage away from low areas. Grade the farmstead to ensure continuous drainage, with a recommended slope of 4 to 6 percent. 

These proactive steps help prevent issues like flooded buildings, hazardous icy conditions, and contaminated surface waters. Implementing these strategies can lead to safer, more efficient farm operations, particularly in the face of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns due to climate change. 

Embracing these practices not only safeguards your farm but also contributes to sustainable farming efforts. 

Remember, planning ahead and taking preventive actions can significantly reduce the impacts of snowmelt and spring rains, ensuring a smoother transition into the farming season. 

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Categories: Minnesota, Rural Lifestyle, Farm Safety

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