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Agricultural Waste and Nutrient Management Systems

Agricultural Waste and Nutrient Management Systems

The following conservation practices are commonly used to minimize water quality impacts associated with agricultural wastes and nutrients.


This practice is a managed temperature waste treatment facility to biologically treat waste as a component of a waste management system. this practice is used to: produce biogas and capture for energy, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pathogens, and improve nutrient management.


An animal mortality facility is an on-farm facility for the treatment or disposal of livestock and poultry carcasses.  This practice may be applied as part of a conservation management system to support one or more of the following purposes:

  • To decrease non-point source pollution of surface and groundwater resources, 
  • To reduce the impact of odors that result from improperly handled animal mortality,
  • To decrease the likelihood of the spread of disease or other pathogens that result from the interaction of  animal mortality and predators,
  • To provide contingencies for normal and catastrophic mortality events.


A composting facility is installed for biological stabilization of waste organic material.  The purpose of this practice is to biologically treat waste organic material and produce humus-like material that can be recycled as a soil amendment or organic fertilizer.  This practice applies where: waste organic material is generated by agriculture production or processing, composting is needed to manage the waste organic material properly, and an overall waste management system has been planned that accounts for the end use of the composted material. 


This practice typically involves protecting heavily used areas by establishing vegetative cover, by surfacing with suitable materials, or by installing needed structures. This practice is used on any land area frequently and intensively used by livestock.  Treatment provided by this practice is primarily for erosion control but also addresses other types of natural resource degradation.


Roof runoff management involves the installation of facilities for collecting, controlling, and disposing of runoff water from (typically barn) roofs.  The purpose of this practice is to prevent roof runoff water from flowing across concentrated waste areas, barnyards, roads, and alleys.  The practice reduces pollution, flooding, and erosion. It also improves water quality, drainage, and the overall efficiency of a waste management system.


This practice is a filtration or screening device, settling tank, settling basin, or settling channel used to separate a portion of solids from a liquid waste stream in order to partition solids, liquids and their associated nutrients as part of a conservation management system.


A waste storage facility is an impoundment made by constructing an embankment, excavating a pit or dugout, or by fabricating a structure.  A waste storage facility is a component of a complete agricultural waste management system. The purpose of the practice is to provide temporary storage of waste material generated by production and/or processing of agricultural products. The waste material may be animal manure, wastewater, or contaminated runoff.


This practice is typically performed by completing the installation of a manure conveyance system using structures, conduits, or equipment. The purpose of the practice is to transfer animal manure, bedding material, spilled feed, process waste water, and other residues associated with animal production to a treatment facility or to agricultural land for final utilization as a source of organic material.


A waste treatment lagoon is an impoundment made by excavation or earth fill to provide storage for biological treatment of animal or other agriculture waste. The purpose of this practice is to store and biologically treat organic waste, reduce pollution, and protect water quality.

In addition to the conservation practices listed above, Nutrient Management as described in Cropland and Hayland Management Systems is a key component of an Agricultural Waste and Nutrient Management System plan.

For additional information related to these conservation practices, visit the Vermont NRCS Conservation Practice Information web page.

Cropland and Hayland Management System Practices

Erosion Control System Practices

Grazing System Practices

Riparian Protection System Practices

Wildlife and Wetland System Practices