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Frequently Asked Questions

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Topic: Best Management Practices (BMPs)

What are some Best Management Practices (BMPs)?

Some BMPs to improve manure storage and application:

  • Only apply manure to crops that can benefit from the nutrients
  • Use conservation practices on fields where manure is applied to minimize runoff and erosion
  • Do not apply manure to fields when heavy rain is predicted and runoff potential is high
  • Do not spread manure near waterways
  • Keep livestock out of sensitive areas such as riparian buffers and wetlands
  • Winter feed livestock in a somewhat flat upland area away from waterways
  • Prevent spillage or overflow of structures, lagoons and ponds used to house waste
  • Check waste application equipment regularly and make sure it is calibrated
  • Divert runoff from land above livestock areas to prevent contamination of the water
  • Create off-site or limited access points for livestock watering

Topic: Manure Management

What is manure and agriculture waste management?

Proper management of waste from animal operations is essential for care of animals and prevention of pollution to state water sources. This is accomplished through strategies known as Best Management Practices (BMPs). Manure management can economically enhance an operation by providing nutrients needed for crop production and reducing the need for commercial fertilizers.

Agricultural animal waste is commonly identified as, but not limited to, manure, bedding, litter, waste water from buildings such as dairy parlors, runoff from feedlots and holding areas, and waste feed.

BMP’s are used to prevent contamination of both surface waters and ground waters by using strategies such as maintaining vegetative cover, adding riparian buffers, or building structures to trap or retain waste. Nonpoint source pollutants are a primary water quality issue in the United States.

Why be concerned about manure management?

Lack of attention to manure management from farming operations can result in economic losses and pollution of the environment. Polluted water can affect neighboring waterways and ground water, both on-site and off-site. The degradation of water quality reduces the ability to support aquatic life, and be used for human and animal consumption.

Nitrates, which are commonly associated with fertilizers and agricultural waste can permeate groundwater. Nitrate contaminated well water is hazardous to humans, particularly infants as it causes oxygen depletion in the blood and is linked to certain types of cancer. Proper waste management can reduce the need for commercial fertilizers.

What are the benefits of manure management?

Waste management is a mandate from federal, state, and local governments due to environmental concerns, but also has economic benefits as well. Environmental and economical advantages include:

  • Reduced need for commercial fertilizer
  • Increased organic matter content in soil, which results in increased nutrient availability and improved water holding capacity and tillage of soil
  • Reduced well water contamination
  • Minimized surface water pollution

What is involved in a manure or Nutrient Management Plan?

Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) are commonly developed for farming operations and typically include a plan for waste management. These plans identify how farmers intend to beneficially use the nutrients available in farm waste products. Site-specific waste strategies require routine soil and waste testing. This will ensure that crop needs are matched with the nutrients available. Plans are required by some operations to satisfy State and Federal regulations.

How can manure be stored?

Manure is typically stored as a solid, or as a liquid in holding ponds or anaerobic lagoons. Correct storage and application of waste is critical to maintaining its valuable nutrient content, and preventing human and animal health problems.

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