– To begin our webinar, focused on manure application planning with the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool, we would like to introduce ourselves. My name is Meaghan Gass and I serve with Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant in the Saginaw Bay region of Michigan. Right here. – I’m Erica Rogers. I’m also with Michigan
State University Extension. I’m an Environmental Management Educator. I do a lot with manure
management, odor management, and mortality management as well as water quality and nutrient management. I’m located in Alma, which is the smack dab middle
of the state of Michigan in the lower peninsula, but I do have statewide responsibilities. Some of the things we’re
going to talk about in the webinar today will specifically be manure application, nutrient runoff, regional runoff risk
decision support tools, the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool and the specifics surrounding that tool, and then we’ll have
some time for questions at the end as well. What do we know about manure application? Manure application can be used as an alternative fertilizer source and a lot of livestock operations have manure readily available for this purpose. Some of the planning considerations that we want to think about
with manure application and nutrient application as well are what the storage capacities are, how much manure storage capacity does a storage actually have, what are the slope and
drainage of the fields that are intended to be used
for that manure application, what are some of the weather forecasts and seasonal conditions, is it a dry summer versus a wet winter, what is the snow or water
saturation level in the field, and then what kind of
manure is being applied whether that’s a solid type manure or if it’s a liquid type manure. Those can act differently in fields. – At the same time,
when applying nutrients, there is a risk for nutrient runoff. When it rains, nutrients
like nitrogen and phosphorus, can wash into nearby waterways as runoff. In Michigan, most of
our rivers and streams flow directly to the Great Lakes. This is something that when
thinking about land use, it’s important to consider application and the timing of application because both of those can contribute
to nutrient runoff. In the Great Lakes, excess nutrients can lead to
plants and algae overgrowth and with this excessive
overgrowth of cyanobacteria, or a blue-green algae, harmful
algal blooms can occur. There are a number of different factors influencing the growth
of harmful algal blooms, including agricultural
runoff, urban runoff, and septic systems, and
also shore bird droppings. Harmful algal blooms can have a big impact on watershed
health and the Great Lakes. When they decompose, they
can consume oxygen – fish and other aquatic
organisms need to survive. They can also degrade the
quality of our drinking water. Some harmful algal blooms
also produce toxins that can cause illness or irritation in pets, livestock, and humans. To address this issue, multiple partners across
the Great Lakes basin have developed Regional Runoff
Risk Decision Support Tools to reduce nutrient loss in runoff events. These tools use NOAA National
Weather Service modeling, on-farm research data, and they involve multiple partner collaboration. This is supported by the
Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NOAA, the National Weather Service, North Central River Forecast Center. In today’s webinar, we’re going to be focusing on one of the tools that was developed as a
part of this regional effort, the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool. – What is the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool? This tool is a decision support tool to help plan short-term manure
and fertilizer application to reduce the loss of
nutrients from fields. The tool itself was developed by the National Weather Service
in conjunction with NOAA. The runoff risk itself, the forecast is derived from real-time precipitation and temperature forecasts from the National Weather Service. This data is combined with snow melt, soil moisture, and
landscape characteristics to help forecast specific runoff events. This modeling was verified
with a small sample validation study that included
edge of the field sites, so monitoring of those sites. One of the sites was in Michigan. Essentially when you
look at the tool itself, it’s basically divided up into grids that are each four kilometers
by four kilometers, or about six square miles. There are about 31 grid cells that contain 50 edge of the field monitoring
sites for this validation. Ideally, the developers of these tools are looking to do a 30
year retrospective run with new historical
findings so that they can update those new grid thresholds, but they don’t think it’s going to make any real significant changes. We’re pretty excited with
where they have it right now. If you’ll notice, one of the first tabs you can go to, and it’s kind of highlighted
in a red box on the top, is the precipitation layer. Essentially this layer shows the amount of precipitation that’s expected
over the next 24 hours. Something important to
remember about this is that the modeling used in
the precipitation layer is deterministic in forecast run, meaning it doesn’t necessarily include the likelihood of precipitation or ie. the percent of precipitation. That’s just something to consider. The next layer that you will
notice is soil temperature. There is soil temperature at two inches and then you’ll notice to the right, there’s also the soil
temperature at four inches. The differences are pretty little. We’re just going to focus on the two inch soil temperature for this
webinar specifically, but both tabs do exist if you’re curious. This model uses forecasted
precipitation and temperatures. It’s simplified this way in order to run the model in real-time
across a larger region. The next layer that you can
look at is the soil saturation. How wet, how saturated,
is that soil that you’re thinking about applying either
manure or fertilizer to? Basically this layer takes in topography, meaning the soil type and slope, and these things were previously modeled. With the previous models
that are utilized, these along with current weather forecasts are used to determine the
current model of soil saturation that you see in your picture right here. The fun part now, the runoff risk itself. We’re looking at all these
different things to see what is our runoff risk for that day. You’ll notice to the bottom left there, there’s a legend, a key to
kind of help you determine what the different colors
on the map look like. This one specifically is
the runoff risk forecast and then the next slide, we’re going to talk about the
winter runoff risk forecast. Kind of like we mentioned before, the runoff risk forecast was derived from real-time precipitation
and temperature forecasts from the National Weather Service. It combines snow melt, soil moisture, and landscape characteristics in order to forecast runoff events. In the picture you see here, there are four different
categories of risk over the course of 24 hours. Essentially too, you can
think about that risk in terms of the magnitude of an event. Small events, small rain events, are a lower risk whereas those larger events are at a higher risk. A lot of the reason that the tool is better at predicting
those higher risk events and the occurrence of runoff is that there’s more confidence
when we’re talking about larger events because we know that larger events are what transport the most nutrients off field. If you look at the legend there, you’ll notice that there is a clear box and it says no runoff expected. That means little to
no runoff is predicted during that time period, over the course of the next 24 hours. The yellow, the light yellow, is low. The risk of runoff occurring is minor. The next one is orange which is moderate. In this case, the risk of
runoff occurring is moderate and this is the time to
consider other factors as far as slope of field, what is the distance
to some of the nearest surface waters you have, and kind of helping determine
if it makes sense to spread or if maybe you shouldn’t spread, is there a different field you
could spread on potentially? The last one in this category is red. This is severe, meaning
there is a high risk of runoff occurring and that’s where we’re really kind of thinking, do I really need to spread today? Do I have a different field
I can spread on as well? There’s also what we call winter mode. When the winter runoff
risk forecast occurs, you can see in the lower
left-hand corner again in the red box, there is a
winter runoff risk forecast over the next 10 days. It’s not quite as tight as the
other runoff risk forecast. Essentially, the winter
runoff risk occurs when one of two things is happening. It doesn’t have to be both things. It’s just one or both. If the depth of snow is
greater than one inch, the tool will put itself
into the winter mode. The second portion of that then would be when the top two inches of the soil have a three day average soil temperature that’s below freezing. That would be considered frozen ground. If either of those two
things are happening, then the tool is put into winter mode. You can see that there is blue coloration and there’s also purple. The blue is considered winter conditions. In the legend, it says
there’s no runoff expected, but there is the likelihood of runoff potentially in the future. The severe is purple. The risk of runoff occurring predicted in the next 10 days is
pretty high at that point. Today is a great example of where we’re probably going to see
higher risk of runoff because we have a lot of
precipitation coming into play here and warming temperatures.
So we’re probably, in some areas in the south, going to
see some potential snow melt. There’s another feature with
the runoff risk forecast. This is where you can
actually click on the map for a specific location
so you’re able to see the daily risk of runoff
for the next seven days. You can see in the picture here, this was taken back in the summer. We had a low-risk the first two days and then it was predicting
no runoff expected for the next five days after that. The idea of this is that as
you move further out day wise, the predictions do become less accurate. That’s why it’s important that
we’re kind of checking back, especially for those 24 hour totals, to make sure that we have a good idea of what the predicted
runoff forecast looks like, but this is a really great tool to have to kind of see what the next
seven days look like as well. A few other things about the tool, there are several features
that are really nice. If you look at the picture to your right, you’ll notice on the right-hand side, essentially there’s a toolbar here where it says login and alert information. If you look there, you’ll
notice a tab that says how do I use this map. When you click on that, you can then click under a
tab that says using this map, which is what brings us to the
left side of this slide here. Sorry to jump around on you. The using this map tool essentially helps explain the grid sizing
we kind of talked about as far as the six square mile grid spaces on the tool itself. It helps explain the
runoff risk categories. We just kind of went through that, but it also explains
it in detail here too, and it also has pop-up
boxes within each grid that display the watershed name, the precipitation forecast
over the next seven days, and what that runoff risk will look like over the next seven days. Then if we go back to
the picture on the right under the heading tutorials, you’ll notice that there is a red box in the upper right-hand
corner that has tutorials. If you click on tutorials, it’ll essentially help you
navigate the tool step-by-step as well as creating an account and a specific alert for your location. It’s a really helpful tutorial system that you can go through
and it helps kind of explain the different
layers of the map as well. Just another way to look at it from what we’re talking about today. The really fun thing about this tool is that you can actually create an account and an alert for yourself. About six in the morning, if there’s going to be
runoff risk potentially, I’m getting an email
and I’m getting a text to tell me that the area I have
identified as an alert area has a potential risk of runoff. We’ll start with an account. To create an account, in the upper right-hand
corner outlined in red, there is a login button. You’ll click on that and it’ll bring up this box that you see
displayed on your screen here. You can either log in right away if you have an account right there with your username and password. You can reset an account if you want to use a different account, but then it also allows
you to create an account and it’ll take you through,
once you hit create an account, it’ll take you through step-by-step. It’s pretty fool-proof to be
able to create an account. When you create an account for yourself, you can actually draw
your farm specific fields, which is really nice. Even though the actual tool itself is not quite field-specific, it does help you to see within that field what does my runoff risk look like. That also allows you when
you create an account to create an email and
text alert for yourself. If you go over to the
picture on your right under the heading create an alert, on the right-hand of that picture, you’ll notice there is a login
and alert information tab and if you click on that, you can actually click on the button within that tab that says
create an email alert. That allows you to create an email alert without being logged in, but I would suggest creating
an account, logging in, because then you’re able to
not only create an email alert, but you’re also able
to create a text alert, which is really nice for those of us who don’t necessarily
have email on our phone. The way to create an
alert is you can either click on the map for a specific location, or it’ll allow you to enter an address so you can see what that
would look like as well. Whatever preference you have. Some other considerations
are some farming practices. The tool cannot take into account what specific farming practices
you are potentially or your producers are potentially
doing on their farms. That’s why it’s really important to consider field characteristics. For instance, what is
the slope of the field, how likely is that field to
experience erosion problems, and then what is the
phosphorus index of that field? We take into account the phosphorus index because if we have a field
with high phosphorus, applying more manure to it
is probably not a great idea, especially since we end up losing a lot of those nutrients
off the field then in runoff risk situations. The other thing you can do too, if you look on the picture
to the right there, there is a tab outlined in red that says resources for manure applications. You can actually find
additional resources here. In there we have manure management and utilization gamps based on the most current manure and utilization GAAMPs. That information we try
to update every year just to make sure we’re staying current, but it has a lot of great information as far as specifics with
your farming operation. The other consideration, we kind of touched on this a little bit, would be distance to surface water. If you have fields that are
really close to surface water and there’s potentially that
moderate risk for runoff, that’s where you maybe
want to start looking at other fields to spread that manure or those nutrients instead. Additionally, the timing
of the application like we kind of talked about. Weather forecasts, seasonal conditions, and then the type of manure, and are you planning to
incorporate that manure? Are you a no-till operation? Are you a conservation tillage operation? Again, these are things
that the tool can’t predict, but these are things that can help you utilize the tool in the best way possible and to best be advantageous
for your practices in your farming operation. I think we will go ahead
and turn it over to Meaghan for some questions and answers and hopefully we can answer
those questions for you guys. – Great. Thank you Erica for sharing
all that information related to the EnviroImpact Tool. We have received some questions and we will be addressing those now. Again, if you would like to submit any questions that you have related to the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool, please use the question
and answer feature. It’s found at the bottom
of the Zoom window. At the bottom of the window, you’ll see something that says Q&A and you can click and type
in your questions there and we will address them now. One question, Erica, was
related to the winter forecast. I don’t know if you could
go back to that slide to clarify what the runoff prediction is and then just going back to
those two different categories. – Sorry, can you state
that question again for me? – Yes. Can you clarify what are the predictors for the winter runoff forecast and the purple versus the blue categories? I know it’s a little hard to
see with the limited purple, but I did check the forecast for today and it is a great visual. Half of the state has a
severe winter runoff forecast. – Great. The first part of that question, what are the two indicators that would put the tool into a winter
runoff forecast mode? The first one would be
if the depth of snow is greater than one inch. The second indicator
would be when there is a three day average soil temperature in the top two inches of
soil that is below freezing, meaning the ground would be considered frozen within that top two inch layer. Again, this is kind of derived from National Weather Service
predictions and such. Meaghan, feel free to jump in
if you want to add anything. Those are the two indicators for the winter runoff risk forecast and only one of those
indicators needs to be occurring for the tool to go into that
winter runoff forecast mode. It doesn’t have to be both. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. The second part of the question, just some clarification of
the purple versus the blue. The blue is essentially there is the likelihood of runoff to potentially occur within the next two days
because winter conditions exist, but it doesn’t mean it’s
going to occur right away or that it’s a very, very
high risk necessarily. When it is purple however, then the risk of runoff occurring in the next 10 days is high. Again, a day like today where we’ve got some warming, we’ve had snow, now the temperatures are getting warm so we’re probably going
to see some snow melt. That tends to be one of the big issues in winter that triggers the winter runoff risk
forecast to become severe is a lot of that snow melt and such and when we get some of those
warmer temperatures like that. You’ll probably see this a
lot in the spring as well. In fact, this picture was taken last April when we were having some of
those snow melt type conditions. I guess something else to consider, and this is kind of a blip from one of the developers of the tool, he said remember to cause the purple, we don’t hold back for runoff present. Even if the slightest amount of runoff is predicted on winter conditions, it will trigger the severe category. Even those very small events
that would normally be ignored, in winter we tend to be
more cautious about that. They’re looking at potentially putting on a threshold in the future with this, but they’re kind of looking
for feedback with that. If you guys have some thoughts, please feel free to share them. – Erica, thank you for
addressing that question. We have another one
related to how many farmers are currently using this tool. I pulled up our reporting
data from August to share. As of the end of August, we had 35 user accounts
that have been created. That’s a rough estimate of
the number of users currently using the tool as of August 2018. You do not need to be
a farmer specifically to use this tool. I personally have created this to use at my house for when gardening, just to have a better understanding of when I should apply nutrients. This is any type of user
that has created an account, but Erica can share some
of the education outreach she has done targeted specifically related to farmers and
agriculture producers to give more information about how we’re getting the word out to that audience. – Great question. Off the top of my head, since August I know we have
had an uptick in users. I just can’t remember the exact number right off the top of my head, but some of the programming that we’ve been doing for instance, a lot of conservation districts are asking for presentations regarding
the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool and there’s typically quite a few farmers and producers that are
attending those meetings. I have one tomorrow that
I’m going to actually to share about the tool. We’re doing that. We also have a presentation next week at the Midwest Fish
and Wildlife Conference where we’re going to
be sharing a little bit about this tool as well. Again, it’s not just the farmers and agriculture necessarily. It’s other communities and other sectors that can use this tool as well. I know that the Waste to Worth Conference which is held in Minnesota this year is a great place where a lot of farmers, a lot of Extension
Specialists from other states are coming in and
they’ll be learning about this tool as well. A lot of different opportunities. We also have put out
some Extension articles regarding the EnviroImpact Tool. I know we also have some great partners within other agricultural businesses that have been really helpful in spreading the word as well. I do think that that’s helped increase the numbers that we’ve
seen with this tool, and I think the fact that
it’s relatively easy to use is also very helpful too. – Great. Thank you. Just as a follow-up to that question, how have the farmer
response been to this tool and this training thus far? Has it been positive? – So far what I’ve seen,
it has been positive. I know there’s always concern. Is this just another tool? Is this actually going to be beneficial? Again, I think for instance, one of the conservation
meetings that I was at about a month and a half ago, the conservation district did a poll to see how many farmers
could see themselves potentially using this tool, not just looking at it, but using it, and I believe it was above
90% of the participants said this is something they
could see themselves using. I think something else to
consider with this tool, it’s really great for small farms because you don’t necessarily have
somebody on speed dial, like some of your larger farms do, to tell you when to and when
not to spread that manure. This is a really great tool in small farm, medium farm situations
where you want to make sure that you’re doing the right
thing by the environment because it’s pretty self-explanatory
and pretty easy to use. I think it’s a really great tool to have in your arsenal as a way to help with nutrient management. – Thank you. We have two more questions, but I do wanna just be conscious of time. It is 12:33. We will work to address these questions. If anyone needs to leave the webinar, we will be sharing the recording
with everyone afterwards. We received another question related to the confidence level. What is the percent
confidence level to determine runoff risk for this tool? – That might be a good question to send to our developer as well. I’m not 100% sure on the
confidence level and Meaghan, maybe you remember some of
our conversations with him that might indicate that. I know they’re feeling better
about the confidence of it because they’ve been able to
make those grid sizes smaller, which is good because that helps to increase the confidence of the tool appropriately predicting
the runoff risk forecast. That’s definitely something I’d wanna check with the developer about to see what they have observed
as far as confidence. – That sounds great. We can share that response via
email with our registrants. – Absolutely. – Then our last question was related to nutrient infiltration and soil profile and whether or not setbacks from ditches or surface water are
incorporated into that as well. – At this point as far
as the tool’s concerned, those specifics, I do not
believe are necessarily incorporated into the tool. I think that’s something more where that the user needs to be aware of those setback distances of
their specific fields. The tool does take into consideration the soil types and the slopes of the general area that it’s in, but as far as setback distances, that’s very specific to the operation that you’re working with. That’s something that the user would need to be conscious of as far as where they’re spreading those nutrients. – Great. Thank you so much for addressing
that question as well. I would like to take this moment to thank all of our attendees for
participating in this webinar. This project and education outreach was supported with funds from NOAA and then also support from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. We really appreciate you
taking the time today to learn more about the
Michigan EnviroImpact Tool. We encourage all of you
to create an account and please let us know if you
have any additional questions and feel free to share information about the Michigan EnviroImpact Tool with any nutrient applicators that you know, or you yourself may be interested
in creating an account. – Thank you so much. We’re glad you guys were able to join.