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Nutrient Management for Open Feedlot Operations

Manure DisposalOpen feedlot
Iowa law requires that all manure from an animal feeding operation be disposed so that it does not cause surface or groundwater pollution. Animal feeding operations include open feedlots and confinement feeding operations. All sizes of animal feeding operations must meet this requirement. These rules also apply to manure that is produced outside of Iowa, but land applied in Iowa.

Separation Distances
There are also some separation distances that must be maintained between areas of land application and protected buildings or other locations such as sinkholes, wells and ag drainage wells. Producers and manure applicators should check the Separation Distances for Land Application of Manure to determine which separation distances apply to their operation. Recent changes in Iowa law added water sources and high quality water resources as protected areas.

Manure disposal is generally prohibited within 200 feet of a well, ag drainage well, cistern, surface water inlet or water source (lakes, rivers, streams, ditches, etc.) unless:

  • The manure is injected or is incorporated in the soil on the same date of application, or
  • Permanent vegetation covers the area within 50 feet of the designated area, and no manure is applied within the 50-foot area.

Manure disposal is also prohibited within 800 feet of a high quality water resource unless:

  • The manure is injected or is incorporated in the soil on the same date of application, or
  • Permanent vegetation covers the area within 50 feet of the designated area, and no manure is applied within the 50-foot area.

Reporting Manure Releases

A manure release, including actual, imminent or probable discharge of manure from an animal feeding operation structure, must be reported to the DNR within six hours after it occurred or was discovered. Releases that must be reported include any that go to surface water, groundwater, a drainage tile line or intake, or to a designated area resulting from storing, handling, transporting or land-applying manure. The DNR field office staff members are experienced in handling manure releases and may be able to help producers and manure applicators limit the extent of the spill or prevent extensive damage.

Releases should be reported to the nearest DNR field office during normal working hours. At other times or when the appropriate field office cannot be reached by phone, releases can be called in to (515) 281-8694 and to the local police department or sheriff in the county where the release has occurred.

Nutrient Management Plans

  • Existing open feedlots with 1,000 animal units or more must submit an NMP to DNR by July 31, 2007.
  • Proposed new operations and expansions that will have 1,000 animal units or more, and those operations that are newly required to have an NPDES permit (national pollutant discharge elimination system permit) must submit an NMP to the DNR with the construction permit application.

NMPs - Information for the public

A nutrient management plan (NMP) is a tool that producers use to manage their feedlot's manure and process waste water, matching up the nutrient value of the manure with the fertilization needs of crops. Properly developed and used, a nutrient management plan prevents over-application of manure. It also provides producers with a valuable fertilizer, saving money and improving organic content of the soil. Producers who have 1,000 beef cattle, 700 dairy cattle or 2,500 finishing hogs kept in an unroofed pen are required to have NMPs in Iowa.

Reviewing the NMP: The public may review the NMP at the appropriate DNR field office and make comments on the NMP to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

NMPs - Information for the Producer

Who Needs an NMP?
Open feedlots with 1,000 or more animal units (1,000 beef steers or 700 mature dairy cattle or 2,500 finishing hogs) must have a nutrient management plan (NMP) implemented and submitted to the DNR by July 31, 2007. Other livestock and poultry producers who must have a national pollutant discharge elimination system or NPDES permit must also develop, implement and submit an NMP to the DNR. Producers may not land-apply manure, process waste water or effluent after July 31, 2007, without an NMP approved by the DNR. Producers who are planning to construct a new facility, or expand or modify an existing facility with 1,000 animal units or more should submit their NMP with the construction permit application.

What About Forms?
For an NMP form, look for DNR form 542-2021, also available or another option. Producers must submit a copy of the NMP to the appropriate DNR field office. Allow 60 days for the DNR to review and approve or disapprove the plan. This includes time for the public to comment on the plan or request a public hearing. Include time to develop the plan, including:

  • figuring out how much cropland is needed to land apply,
  • obtaining soil samples,
  • calculating the P index and soil loss (RUSLE2) for each field where manure or effluent will be land applied, and
  • obtaining written agreements if spreading on land not owned or rented by the producer.

Publishing Public Notice:
Producers must publish a public notice (DNR form 542-1553) on the NMP, including where the NMP can be reviewed, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or counties

  • where the feedlot is or will be located, and
  • where manure, process waste water or open feedlot effluent will be land-applied.

Producers must submit a clipping(s) or copy of the actual notice(s), including the publication date and newspaper name to the appropriate DNR field office.

This information should be submitted to the DNR as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days after the publication date.

The DNR will consider public comments when reviewing the NMP. The DNR will also consider requests for a public hearing and notify the producer if a hearing is scheduled.

 


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