The ordinance regulating the application of liquid manure over Kewaunee County farm fields passed the County Board 19-0 Tuesday evening with little discussion. After a marathon committee meeting to make last-minute revisions last Thursday, there was little more to say.
Introduced in May, the ordinance was approved in a first reading at the September County Board meeting, and the Land & Water Conservation Committee and Health Committee spent four and half hours banging out the version that received final approval.
The “Agricultural Waste and Process Water Irrigation Ordinance” is the newly created Chapter 37 of the county code regulating the use of sprinkler systems, linear move and center-pivot irrigation systems to “facilitate the safe distribution of nutrients throughout the growing season” and minimize the amount of manure spread during the spring and fall.
Because of the county’s fragile karst topography, spreading liquid manure has been found to contribute to groundwater contamination issues, especially when spread over shallow (less than 20 feet to bedrock) soils in the rainy seasons.
The committees held firm on perhaps the biggest bone of contention with farmers – a requirement that liquid manure be dispersed in droplets from nozzles that are no higher than an average 18 inches off the ground.
Once on the County Board floor, it took less than five minutes for supervisors to vote unanimously to put the ordinance on the books.
County Board Chairman Robert Weidner thanked the committees, county staff and the general public who contributed to the conversation. He singled out County Conservationist Davina Bonness, who drafted the original version and accumulated all of the feedback from various interests, and John Rybski of the town of Ahnapee, who “provided extensive notes and input and suggestions and advice.”