Waste Storage Facilities: Is Your Storage Sustainable?
Manure management can be an extremely complex combination of systems. Many farms use manure storage as a critical system component when managing their manure. The whole system needs to be designed and built correctly but also operated appropriately in order to continue to be sustainable. A storage that worked in the past may not be meeting the farm's current needs.
Increasing herd size, increasing production, additional (or a change in) bedding, added waste or added runoff may fill the storage faster than originally designed. Solid buildup, not emptying on schedule or more precipitation than designed may be filling the storage sooner, therefore requiring spreading during the winter or early spring when the risk of runoff is highest. The disadvantages of spreading manure during wet conditions are becoming more apparent. To be sustainable the manure storage may need to be increased in size, more carefully managed or even complemented by adding storages facilities.
Manure storage requires intense management. Odors, spills and spreading problems from stored manure can be significantly worse than daily spreading. Sometimes efforts to improve water quality will make odors (and water quality) worse. Producers will have to find ways of managing their farms with a low odor impact while protecting water quality. These are methods that help: management, distance and dilution, injection/incorporation, manure storage covers, controlling spreading times and locations, and manure treatment.
Make sure your manure management system incorporates safety and health protection. They have the potential to expose owners, employees, and the public with safety hazards that include: drowning, asphyxiation, mechanical hazards, electric shock, explosions, etc. At times safety issues are ignored because the operator has successfully practiced unsafe acts in the past with no problems.
Any sustainable operation will need to comply with environmental regulations controlling how and when the manure is spread. Safety regulations may be applied to some farms.
The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) program is one source of financial assistance as producers improve the sustainability of their manure management system. Develop a cost estimate and a partial budget to determine if the system will work for you.
To learn more, please visit our Environmental Quality Incentives Program web page, or visit your local USDA-NRCS office.
Natural Resources Conservation Service standard for Waste Storage Facility can be found online in the Field Office Technical Guide, Part 4. You can also use the link below to download the PDF.
Waste Storage Facility (Conservation Practice Code 313) (PDF; 53 KB)