Waste Management

Animal waste is a major source of pollution to bodies of water. 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. Poor manure management may 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 (BMP's), through safe storage and through composting. The sections below will discuss best management practices, manure storage, and application and spreading.

Best Management Practices

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 BMP's may include safe management of animal waste, control pests and nutrients, contour farming, crop rotation, and vegetative buffers near streams.

Manure Storage

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.

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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 phosphorous) 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 when used as efficient fertilizer.