Along with a nutrient management plan, many farmers use manure storage structures and barnyard runoff controls to improve manure management and protect water quality. Storage allows manure to be safely stockpiled until conditions are environmentally safe for spreading. Runoff controls such as diversions, rain gutters, settling basins and filter strips keep clean water from flowing over manure-covered areas and clean up runoff water before it reaches a waterway.
How it helps...
Protects water quality by preventing runoff from feedlots
Cuts fertilizer costs and reduces nutrient losses
Allows for field application when conditions are right
A diversion around an animal lot and gutters on buildings are inexpensive and effective ways to minimize the amount of water falling on and washing across manure covered areas. A diversion is often the first step in solving a runoff problem.
Incorporating a concrete wall with an outlet box at the lower end of the lot controls the rate of runoff to filter areas, and allows trapped manure to be easily scraped and removed. A grass filter strip cleans up water that leaves the lot.
Four types of storage are common: walled enclosures, earthen ponds, aboveground tanks, and under-floor storage. Before deciding on manure storage, carefully consider your operation, siting or design limitations, bedding, transfer to storage, local and state regulations and costs.
Consider that the costs of storage, even with cost-sharing, are seldom offset by the fertilizer savings. Costs range from $100 per cow for earthen ponds to $1,000 per cow for above ground tanks.
Runoff controls require regular maintenance. Gutters need to be cleaned, filter strips cut and reseeded as needed, and the yard and outlet box regularly scraped and cleaned.
Manure storage structures need to be checked regularly for leaks or structural damage. Leaking structures can pose a significant threat to surface water and groundwater.