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Why farmers and homeowners alike should check the weather before using fertilizer

Runoff could be harmful to our lakes and streams
Posted at 2:41 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 19:37:44-04

FOX LAKE, Wis. — A Fox Lake farmer is showing how she is not just feeding America, but protecting it.

In our Two Americas report, we share an important environmental protection she has in place this time of year to protect our precious waters.

Tri-Fecta Farms sits on a more than 1,700 acre crop farm. Katy Schultz is happy she does not have to worry about the soaring price of fertilizer, because she has more than 400 dairy cows who can help her.


They keep a close eye on their waste and the weather. "We have a creek that runs on one side of our farm, and we have a lake literally a quarter mile in front of our farm. And so taking care of our lakes and water sheds and water streams is really important," said Schultz.

Manure spilling into waterways can wreak havoc on our ecosystem. Spills like these could create algae blooms that could not just produce dead zones in the water - it can be hazardous for people and pets.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says about 31 percent of preventable manure spills are due to operator error. Which is why Schultz says Tri-Fecta Farms has multiple safety measures in place to protect their beloved Fox Lake. "We take our boat out on the weekends and the kids go swimming and fishing. It's important - it's important for the whole community," she says.

They follow safety guidelines, down to the detail. This includes how to store manure. "It is a completely cement lined pit that holds the manure in it. We make sure that all of the manure applied stays within the field. We're not going anywhere near any type of water."


Professor Junjie Niu is a faculty member in UWM's College of Engineering & Applied Science. Professor Niu is grateful for farmers like Katy Schultz. He is researching ways to remove pollution from past manure spill offs.


His team at the Water Energy Nexis Lab are working to create a substance that would soak up and remove dangerous molecules in the soil to prevent future runoff contamination. More specifically Nitrogen and Phosphorus.

Another idea they are experimenting on is to infuse natural bacteria, which already eats up Nitrogen and Phosphorus. Niu calls the research cutting-edge and a more natural way to reverse pollution.


There is a runoff risk advisory forecast on the Department of Natural Resources' website. Click here to find it.

WEB EXTRA: Hear Schultz talk about the importance for everyone to be a good steward to our environment, no matter how big or small your backyard is:


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