Livestock producers large and small need to not only manage nutrients properly but also keep detailed records of their nutrient management practices, said Purdue Extension animal scientist Tamilee Nennich.
Smaller producers often think nutrient management recordkeeping is necessary only for large producers. But Nennich says that's not the case.
"Every producer needs to have detailed records, especially regarding manure issues, because those records are the only proof of what's been done," she said.
One example she gave is that of a producer who has applied manure and gets an unexpected heavy rainfall the next day, causing runoff. That farmer can only prove there was no over-application by keeping detailed records.
Purdue Extension, the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Marketing Council have once again teamed up to make the process simpler for livestock producers by providing free nutrient management record-keeping calendars.
The calendars are designed for all species and provide inspection reminders and space for producers to write daily, weekly, monthly and annual records.
Nennich said the calendar is designed so that if producers fill out most of what's in it, they will have all of the major records they need for the year.
Included are sections for recording rainfall and waterline inspections, and reminders to check lagoon marker readings, inspect manure storage facilities for damage and make sure manure equipment is in good shape. The calendars also provide space to record the type and amount of crops harvested from each field so farmers can assess how much manure they need to apply to their fields.
"The main goal of record keeping is to help calculate what's been done and to help with planning for the future," Nennich said. "Records help to make sure nutrients are properly managed and applied at the correct rates so they stay on the fields and are utilized by crops."
Before Feb. 15 of each year, permitted operations must provide an annual nutrient management report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The calendar not only will house the records to make the report easier but also will help producers remember the important deadline.
Even though the report is not a requirement for small, unpermitted operations, recordkeeping can keep those smaller farms from running into trouble should a problem arise.
"While smaller producers might not carry a permit, they still need to manage their manure correctly because if they don't, they too can be fined or required to get a permit," Nennich said.
Copies of the free calendar are available by contacting Nennich at 765-494-4823, firstname.lastname@example.org