Manure Management

On October 29, 2011 the PA Department of Environmental Protection released a revised Manure Management Plan guidance document (document # 361-0300-002) for the land application of manure. The purpose of these revisions is to update the manual so that it can be used directly by farmers and to make the Manure Management Manual reflect changes to both Federal and State Laws. The following is an overview of these guidelines:

  1. All farms that generate or use manure, regardless of the size of the farm, are required to have a Manure Management Plan.

  2. Farms that are defined as CAOs (Concentrated Animal Operations) or CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) need to follow a different, more detailed Nutrient Management Plan.

  3. General Requirements for Manure Management Plans:
    1. Farms generating or using manure must develop a written plan.
    2. The manual provides a standardized process for developing a written plan. The standardized workbook should be used. An alternative plan format can be used, but would require prior approval from DEP.
    3. The planner does not have to be certified. A farmer can write their own plan.
    4. The plan does not have to be submitted or approved. The plan needs to be retained on site at the farm.
    5. The farm must be managed consistent with what is identified in the plan.

  4. Authorized Manure Management Practices:
    1. Acceptable manure application rates can be developed using one of three methods:
      1. The manure application rate charts provided in the manual
      2. Nutrient balance sheets providing a more specific recommendation
      3. The PA Phosphorus Index, developed with assistance from someone who has been properly trained.

    2. Manure Application Setbacks for Mechanical Application of Manure
      1. 100-foot setback from streams, lakes, ponds, sinkholes and drinking water wells
      2. The 100-foot setback from surface waters can be reduced if the following criteria are met:
        1. 50-foot setback if the soil phosphorus level is less than 200ppm, the field is farmed using continuous no-till and when residue is removed a cover crop is planted.
        2. 35-foot setback if the buffer has a permanent vegetation cover

    3. Winter Application of Manure
      1. “Winter” is defined as any of the following:
        1. December 15 through February 28
        2. Any time the ground is frozen
        3. Any time the ground is covered or partially covered in snow

      2. Farmers may not do the following in winter:
        1. Apply more than 5,000 gallons of liquid manure per acre
        2. Apply more than 20 tons of dry non-poultry manure per acre
        3. Apply more than 3 tons of poultry manure per acre
      3. Fields where manure is being applied during the winter must have at least 25% crop residue or have a cover crop
      4. Manure may not be applied to slopes greater than 15% during the winter.

    4. Pasture Management
      1. Pastures must maintain a minimum of 3-inches of vegetation during the growing season
      2. Pastures not meeting the minimum 3-inch vegetation standard are considered ACAs (Animal Concentration Areas) and must follow the requirements for ACAs.

      3.     Feed Lots are an example of Animal Concentration Areas.
            These areas are properly managed to prevent erosion of exposed
            soils and manure.

    5. Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs)
      1. Defined as areas of outdoor animal confinement that will not maintain the dense vegetation of a pasture (i.e. barnyards, feed lots, exercise lots, etc.)
      2. The following must be addressed for ACAs:
        1. Divert upslope water away from the ACA
        2. Direct runoff from the ACA into storage or a filter
        3. Limit animal access to streams except where an improved/stabilized stream access has been installed.
        4. Keep watering and feeding areas away from streams as much as possible.

    6. Manure Storage Facilities / Manure Storage Tanks
      1. Liquid & Semi-soild manure storage facilities
        1. Must be designed and certified by an engineer if built after 2000
        2. Must be designed to NRCS standards
      2. Requires a DEP permit if:
        1. Volume exceeds 2.5 million gallons of liquid or semi-solid manure
        2. Volume exceeds 1.0 million gallons of manure and is located in a special protection or agriculture impaired watershed
      3. Manure Storage Maintenance
        1. Facility must be checked for leaks, cracks, overflows, unwanted vegetation, rodents or anything that would threaten integrity of the facility
        2. Must maintain the require freeboard

    7. Stacking of Dry Manure
      1. In-field stacking on Unimproved Areas
        1. Maintain a 100-foot setback from streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, drinking water wells and sinkholes
        2. Placed in areas with a slope less than 8%
        3. Stacks are to be covered if left for more than 120 days
        4. Upslope water is diverted around the stacking area if necessary
      2. Stacking on Improved (Stabilized) Areas

    Runoff cannot reach streams, drinking water wells, sinkholes, or other water sources.




    Is Your Farm Considered a Concentrated Animal Operation (CAO)?
    Concentrated Animal Operations are farms with any of the following:

    • More than 150 cows per 100 acres of cropland
    • More than 1500 hogs per 100 acres of cropland
    • More than 60,000 chickens per 100 acres of cropland

    CAO farms require a Nutrient Management Plan


    Is your Farm Considered a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)?
    Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations are farms with more than any of the following:

    • 700 Cows
    • 2500 Hogs
    • 500 Horses
    • 82,000 Layers (chickens)
    • 125,000 Broilers (chickens)
    • 1 million pounds of live weight animals (combined)
    • More than 300,000 pounds of animals and a CAO

    CAFO farms require a Nutrient Management Plan and a CAFO permit

    Is your operation a CAFO? - Click here for a detailed reference chart




    Nutrient Management Plan – written to Nutrient Management Act standards by a certified specialist. Must be approved by the State Conservation Commission or delegated County Conservation District.

    Manure Management Plan – written to manure management manual guidelines. Does not have to be written by a certified specialist and can be written by the farmer. Does not have to be submitted for review or approved.


    Return to Agriculture Main Page