Farmers need to have manure management plan in place

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 4/5/00.

Feedlot operators gathered recently in St. Martin and Paynesville to learn more about the changes being proposed in the manure management plan by Stearns County and the state of Minnesota. The meetings were sponsored by St. Martin Co-op Association and the Paynesville Farmers Union Co-op.

Grant Pearson, manure treatment specialist with the the Stearns County Soil Water Conservation District (SWCD), talked about the differences between the county and state requirements.

"We are essentially working off old feedlot rules until the new ones are in place," Pearson said. "We have a long ways to go before the new rules are passed. Some members in the Legislature want a one-year moratorium to delay the implementation until 2001 or 2002."

Pearson outlined for those present which feedlot operators need a manure management plan, according to current Stearns County regulations. Feedlot operators who plan to make a change in the size of their feedlot and have 10 or more animal units need to develop a manure management plan. A plan is also needed if farmers apply manure within a quarter mile of an FAA approved airport. Feedlot operators who live in another county and apply manure in Stearns County, need to have a manure management plan. The Stearns County Environmental Services Office said this varies from county to county. Not all counties require a manure management plan.

"Sooner or later all feedlot operators will need a plan in place," said a spokesperson at the SWCD office.

Manure components
Components of a manure management plan include:
• Listing the location of the feedlot.
• Type of manure storage and storage facility capacity, and method of handling manure.
•Estimated annual volume and test nutrient content of manure.
•Application methods and equipment.
•Manure spreader calibration procedures.
•Aerial photos and soil maps of fields. (Maps can be obtained from the Department of Natural Resources website on the Internet.
•Planned manure application rates based on yield goal, manure test, soil test, crop rotation, and University of Minnesota nutrient recommendations.

The county goal is for feedlot operators to apply manure in a manner that minimizes pollution of water resources.

Pearson said the bottom line is to adopt practices which maintain crop yields and are economically viable while being environmentally sound.

Under the current county plan, feedlot operators must maintain a setback of 25 feet if they incorporate manure near open tile intakes. If they are not incorporating the manure, the setback is 100 feet, and if applying manure through an irrigation system, the setback is 300 feet.

The new state proposal would require liquid manure applied within 300 feet of an open tile intake must be injected or incorporated within 24 hours of application. This ruling would also apply to solid and semi-solid manure after Oct. 1, 2004. No manure could be applied within 50 feet of a well, sinkhole, or quarry.

Another new proposed state rule states no manure could be applied within 25 feet of protected areas and if within 300 feet, must be injected or incorporated within 24 hours.

Currently, special protected areas include any waters of the state: all streams, lakes, ponds, wells, marshes, watercourses, waterways, springs, reservoirs, aquifers, irrigation systems, and all other bodies of surface and underground water.

The new proposed definition of a special protected area is more stringent. Protected areas are land that is within 300 feet of DNR protected waters and wetlands, intermittent streams and ditches on U.S. geological survey quadrangle maps, excludes drainage ditches with berms, and segments of intermittent streams which are grassed waterways.

Stearns County requires a 100-foot minimum setback from lakes, 50 feet from streams and public wetlands, and 25 feet from public and private drainage ditches if incorporating.

The new state proposal requires a vegetative buffer of 100 feet for lakes and perennial streams, and 50 feet for other protected areas. Feedlot operators cannot apply manure to the buffer strip, or within 25 feet of the protected area. If within 300 feet, the manure must be injected or worked into the soil within 24 hours.

Currently, Stearns County does not require a vegetative buffer.

Pearson said Stearns County requires feedlot operators to develop a good neighbor plan when applying manure within a quarter mile of parks, churches, schools, and cemeteries. Feedlot operators need to take into consideration weekends and holidays, and avoid spreading fresh manure on fields when people are utilitizing the outdoors.

Feedlot operators may apply manure up to the public right of way (road ditch) unless environmental conditions indicate pollution potential or other setbacks apply.

Odor reduction
Stearns County requires an odor reduction plan for all new, expanded, or modified animal feedlots.

Feedlot operators need to list the methods they will use to reduce odor from feedlots, waste facilities, and application methods.

If the odor source is from a liquid manure storage basin, the feedlot operator must maintain a crust by switching to organic bedding (straw or wood chips).

If the odor is from land application of manure, feedlot operators will be required to broadcast and shallow incorporate immediately or inject liquid manure below the soils surface. Feedlot operators are not allowed to apply manure when the weather is calm and humid.

If the odor source is from a livestock shed or barn, feedlot operators are required to use organic bedding to help eliminate the odor.

For hog feedlots, an approved synthetic cover for the waste storage facility is needed.

Stearns County SWCD also suggests that manipulation of the animals diet can be used to control odor.

Another way to cut the odors is to keep the floors dry and clean with organic bedding and daily sprinkle vegetable oil in hog pens.

Windbreaks, ventilation, and biofilters will help reduce odor from pits, the SWCD odor reduction outline suggests.

Under the new state proposal, feedlot operators need to notify MPCA or county feedlot officers prior to agitation and pumping. Stearns County has four feedlot officers: Jane Knott, Greg Bechtold, John Kolstad, and Lenny Hulburt.

Transporting manure
When feedlot operators are transporting manure, all vehicles used on roadways shall not leak or spill. Manure deposited onto a public roadway must be removed by the hauler. If the state or county is called to remove the manure, the farmer will be billed, Pearson reminded them.

Stockpiling manure
According to the SWCD, stockpiling of manure is a commonly used method of storing solid manure and used bedding or litter until it can be applied to cropland as fertilizer.

Stockpiling of manure can be a reasonably environmentally safe method of storage in some areas; however, site selection must be carefully considered. When rain or snow melt water comes in contact with manure, the water can pick up particles of manure and transport it off-site. The pollutants can be solids that are visible to the naked eye or dissolved nutrients, pathogens, or materials that cannot be seen.

Two different methods of approved stockpiling have been identified. The decision as to which method is used will depend on the site. Stockpile sites should be flat places with no run-off. The two methods are:
•Permanent site: an area where manure is stockpiled either on the feedlot or field.
•Temporary site; under temporary are long term: a temporary method of storing manure for more than four weeks, but less than a year; and on a short term site, the site will not be used to store manure for more than four weeks.

Under the new state proposal, the short-term site volume can't exceed amount needed for 320 acres.

Manure cannot be stockpiled for more than a year, according to the county plans.

The county plan requires stockpiled manure on a permanent site should be on a pad made of clay or have a plastic liner.

When selecting a stockpile site, the county asks the feedlot operators to be aware of floodplain areas, location of public and private wells, run-off potential, water conduits, surface waste, and soil types.

Under the proposed state plan, manure stockpiles must be placed on liners, and surface water must be diverted and manure contaminated wastewater must be contained.

Record keeping proposals
Feedlot operators will also be required to keep records of where they dispose of the manure and to whom they sell manure.

The records will require volume or tonnage and nutrient content of the manure, the location of where the manure is deposited, the rate of application, whether it is applied com-mercially, and the name and address of the applicator. Applicators need to be licensed.

Under the new state record keeping proposals, any person receiving manure from a facility with 100 animal units must maintain manure and commercial nutrient application records for three years if applying on land not in a special protection area and six years if applying manure within a special protection area.

Jane Knott, Stearns County Feedlot officer, said they hope to implement some of the new state plans by August 2000 if there is no moratorium.

"The MPCA has received more than 150 pages of comments from feedlot operators during the comment period on the proposed state revisions. The state has acknowledged their concerns and are making revisions accordingly," Knott said.

According to Knott, the state proposes to give feedlot operators up to 10 years to fix their pollution problems. "Under the proposed plan, operators have five years to reduce their pollution problems by 50 percent and 10 years to reduce their pollution 100 percent. Under the old plan, operators had only three years to reduce their problems by 50 percent," she added.

Knott said the county is hoping feedlot operators who have already registered their manure management plans and feedlots with the county will be exempt from the first round of registrations required by the state. They would then need to reregister in four years.

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