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Manure Management

Tractor spreading liquid manureManure management is an important aspect of livestock farming in Pennsylvania.  Every livestock operation should have a site specific plan, called a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMPs) that includes the best practices and strategies to manage the collection, storage and land application of manure.

Many livestock farmers collect and store manure over a period of time before applying it to a field.  A CNMP recommends the size of manure storage structure based on the number of livestock, the desired frequency of field application, and environmental conditions, such as frozen ground.   The producer should be able to store manure during the times of the year that have an increased risk of nutrient loss, such as the winter months when the ground is frozen. 

Manure is fertilizer because it contains nutrients vital for plant growth.  When manure is spread on a field with growing plants the nutrients in the manure become available to the plant.  Sampling the soil in the field will let a producer know how much of a nutrient is already in the soil before applying manure.  There is a greater risk of nutrients will leave the field in water that runs off the surface or drains into field tile if the soil contains more nutrients than the plants need. 

Farms that import manure to spread on fields should also have a nutrient management plan. Nutrient management plans for these farms document practices on the fields receiving manure and amount of nutrients already in the soil.

NRCS has many practices and technical information to help farmers with manure management. Properly managed manure can improve soil quality, crop yields and reduce the risk of runoff to the surface waters.


Structural / Engineering conservation practices related to manure management include:

  • Waste Storage Facility (313)
  • Heavy Use Area Protection (561)
  • Roofs and Covers (367)
  • Waste Transfer (634)

Agronomic / Non-structural conservation practices related to manure management include:

  • Cover Crop (340)
  • Nutrient Management (590)
  • Waste Recycling (633)

Additional Information

Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) - documents of record establishing how nutrients will be managed for plant production while addressing identified resource concerns including the offsite movement of nutrients.  These plans are prepared in collaboration with producer and/or landowner and are designed to help the producer implement and maintain an effective plan for the application of nutrients from available sources.  The objective of a CNMP is to provide Animal Feeding Operation owners/operators with a plan to manage manure and organic by-products by combining conservation practices and management activities into a conservation system that, when implemented, will control soil erosion.

For more information, please visit your local USDA Service Center.

Pennsylvania Agronomist:

Mark Goodson
(717) 237-2146