Pollution risk cut with new farm forecast tools
John Panuska, Faculty Associate
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
3:05 – Total Time
0:22 – New runoff risk advisory forecast
1:04 – How the new tool works
1:29 – Advantages for farmers and environment
1:45 – Why the system is so important
2:20 – Research behind the forecaster
2:53 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: John you have some new tools to help producers protect water resources. Can you give us a brief description of what that is?
John Panuska: Well there are several tools available, and these tools include manure spreading maps, as well as a tool called the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast. This forecasting tool is designed to assist producers that are applying animal waste to fields and reduce their risk of that material or that waste running off into surface waters. Any decision a producer makes to spread manure needs to be made not only using the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool, but also a boots on the ground approach and going out and looking at the specific conditions in that field.
Sevie Kenyon: John, maybe you can give us an example.
John Panuska: Well a producer can get on the web and go to the Manure Advisory System site and take a look at the color coded map there, which rates all of the major drainage basins in Wisconsin according to their risk for runoff, and that risk is rated for the current day, and then out three days into the future.
Sevie Kenyon: And John, what does that mean to the producer needing to spread manure?
John Panuska: Well, it give them a choice that you can decide based on that forecast to hold off perhaps a few days until that risk is reduced, or if that risk in minimal, you can go ahead and spread.
Sevie Kenyon: John, why is this system so important?
John Panuska: It’s important because you know we like to consider the manure as a resource, not as a waste product. So having the ability to incorporate that manure and benefit from its nutrient and organic matter content is a benefit to the producer. Whereas, losing that material to a rainfall event as a result of runoff, it becomes an environmental risk. So, in this sense we’re managing manure as a resource and reducing the environmental risk of losing that resource.
Sevie Kenyon: John, can you describe some of the underlying research?
John Panuska: The information that’s used in generating the forecast comes from the National Weather Service Flood Forecasting Center. We’ve gone through and evaluated each water shed in the state of Wisconsin, and come up with thresholds that will give a reasonable prediction of when runoff is going to occur. So, this tool has been tested and reviewed and specifically custom built for Wisconsin based on monitoring data and filed data that we’ve evaluated here.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with John Panuska, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin Extension, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI, and I am Sevie Kenyon.