Animal waste is a major source of pollution to waterbodies. To protect the health of aquatic ecosystems and meet water quality standards, manure must be safely managed. Good management of manure keeps livestock healthy, returns nutrients to the soil, improves pastures and gardens, and protects the environment, specifically water quality. Manure applied at the appropriate agronomic rate and under appropriate conditions can improve the quality of the soil without the added expense of synthetic fertilizers. This can be done to avoid excess nutrients running into nearby waterways, which can cause over-fertilization of the water which may cause algal blooms, fish kills, and other water quality related problems. Poor manure management may also lead to sick livestock, unsanitary and unhealthy conditions for humans and other organisms, and increased insect and parasite populations. Proper management of animal waste can be done by implementing best management practices (BMPs), through safe storage, by application as a fertilizer, and through composting.
Best management practices are conservation and land management practices that reduce or prevent leaching and runoff of pollutants to surface and groundwater. These practices are encouraged for all producers. Some examples of BMPs may include safe management of animal waste, control pests and nutrients, contour farming, crop rotation, and vegetative buffers near streams.
Click the following links for a check list of common BMPs.
More information about manure BMPs and protecting your water.
Proper storage of manure is extremely important. There are many different types of manure storage facilities ranging from solid manure storage systems to lagoons or slurry systems. Different types of storage systems are site-specific depending on the site's nutrient concentrations, proximity to water sources, type of livestock, availability of land application equipment, and manure form and consistency. Prevailing wind direction, slope of ground, and soil type should also be considered when selecting a manure storage facility. By properly and safely storing animal waste, the input toxic materials, such as fecal coliforms, to nearby streams and rivers will decrease.
Waste storage facilities can be constructed by excavating a pit or by building berms. Storage facilities may be lined in order to prevent leaching into groundwater. Check out
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Application and Spreading
Grazing of livestock removes nutrients from the plants and soil; however, those nutrients can be returned to plants and soil by applying manure.
Manure is full of vital nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus) required for soil fertility and plant growth. Simple reapplication of manure may also eliminate the need for expensive storage facilities. For safe application, manure should be applied away from natural drainages, a minimum of 100 ft away from a water source, and incorporated into the soil as soon as possible. Manure can be a beneficial resource if used as efficient fertilizer.
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Additional information about composting