Skip Navigation

NRCS Missouri Assistance in Removing Old Lagoons Protects Groundwater

Back in 1974, Audrain County, Missouri, farmer Steve Welschmeyer expanded his swine operation by building a 480-head, open-front confinement building with a concrete feeding floor. NRCS provided assistance in designing a lagoon to handle the manure from this operation.

After many years of use, Mr. Welschmeyer decided to phase out his swine operation and concentrate on cropping and cattle operations. The facility was permanently abandoned about 10 years ago.

Missouri Lagoon Before
Missouri Lagoon After

In 2012, NRCS worked with Mr. Welschmeyer’s sons, David and Darrell, to eliminate the building, concrete, and lagoon and return the land to productive cropland. The abandoned lagoon and facilities, located about a half mile from the town of Martinsburg, posed an environmental liability and safety hazard.

NRCS engineers surveyed the old facility to make estimates of the amount of solid and liquid waste that needed to be removed, the amount of berm removal and site leveling needed, and the amount of concrete demolition and disposal needed to return the site to original conditions. An EQIP contract was approved in March 2012. and NRCS engineers prepared the final construction plans and drawings.

The landowners pumped the liquids to crops during the summer growing season. After the crops were harvested, the contractor removed the solids from the lagoon, spread them on a nearby crop field, and incorporated them according to a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) prepared by NRCS.  The NMP ensured nutrients were applied according to crop needs, eliminating overapplication.

The metal and wood in the old swine building were removed, and the contractor broke up the old concrete feeding floor and placed the pieces in the bottom of the cleaned out lagoon. The berm around the lagoon and the fill from under the building and feeding floor were placed back into the lagoon and leveled to original contours to return the area to crop production. NRCS engineers inspected the completed work in November 2012, and certified the lagoon as meeting NRCS plans, standards, and specifications.

The landowner is very pleased with the lagoon closure, the land reclaimed for cropping, and the elimination of an environmental liability and safety hazard. This closure also allowed the center pivot irrigation system to make a complete circle where the lagoon and building prevented it before.

Another lagoon closure on the Ralls County, Missouri, farm of Frank Wallace had an old gravity drain hog lot where all manure ran to an alley way and the alley way drained to the lagoon. The facility had been out of use for more than 15 years. The facilities were an eye sore and the lagoon had to be monitored for possible overflowing. After survey and contract development, Mr. Wallace pumped the lagoon effluent and hauled sludge to nearby fields to utilize the remaining nutrientsaccording to the NMP. He disposed of the concrete in areas where it was used to reduce erosion. Then the lagoon was filled and shaped to its natural grade, and the area is now used to grow hay.

Both of these projects are good examples of how NRCS assistance and programs protect the environment and improve both the aesthetics and profitability of farms.