Restrictions on Winter Application of Nutrients

Provincial legislation prohibits the application of nitrogen and phosphorus between and including November 10th of one year and April 10th of the following year. Nutrient sources containing nitrogen and/or phosphorus include synthetic fertilizer and livestock manure. The winter spreading restrictions are in place as the application of nutrients onto frozen or snow-covered soils results in an increased risk of nutrient runoff. Nutrient runoff to waterways contributes directly to algal blooms in Lake Winnipeg and elsewhere.

However, there may be some years where weather conditions are such that agricultural land can reasonably be worked to apply nutrients between November 10th of one year and April 10th of the following year for crop uptake while still protecting water quality. In these cases, a provincial or regional variance may be issued.

Provincial/Regional Variances

Provincial legislation (Nutrient Management Regulation (M.R. 62/2008) and the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation (M.R. 42/98)) authorizes the director to vary these dates if conditions are such that soils remain thawed and are not snow covered on or after November 10th providing nutrients can reasonably be worked into the soil for crop uptake or if soils thaw earlier than April 10th in the spring.

The following two policies are currently in effect:

No provincial variance in effect. Nutrients cannot be applied on or after November 10, 2018.

*Due to expectation of snow cover, frozen soils and below freezing temperatures

The following sources of information are used as described in the two policies to determine whether a variance will be issued:

Individual Variances

When a regional/province-wide variance has not been issued for the winter application of nutrients and an individual producer believes their soil/weather conditions should be considered for a variance, agricultural producers must contact staff in the Nutrient Management Regulation program at or by phone at (204) 945-0002. If an individual wishes to make a formal request for a variance, the request must be provided in writing by a Professional Agrologist or Certified Crop Adviser.

At any time throughout the winter, emergency situations may occur. Pursuant to Section 14(4) of the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation (M.R. 42/98), the director may authorize winter application of manure due to an emergency situation or extenuating circumstance. Examples may include the manure storage facility reaching its capacity or the imminent failure of a manure storage facility. Information on Emergency Manure Spreading Requests is available at or by contacting Environmental Approvals Branch at: or by phone at (204) 391-0540 or (204) 945-3078.

For further information consult:

Last updated: September 24, 2018