All manure applicators in Iowa must follow state laws when land applying manure. Most of those laws are designed to keep manure out of waters of the state and away from environmentally sensitive areas such as sinkholes or high quality water resources. Some of the separation distances that must be maintained are designed to help minimize odors for neighboring homes, businesses, schools, churches and public use areas.
See the following fact sheets for more information about the laws that apply to manure application:
Manure from animal feeding operations may be stockpiled provided that State regulations are met. Manure stockpiles are prohibited on land with slopes of greater than 3 percent unless methods, structures, or practices – such as hay bales, silt fences, or temporary earthen berms – are utilized to prevent runoff. All stockpiled manure must be properly land applied within six months of the establishment of the stockpile. The following fact sheets summarize the requirements including minimum separation distances.
Stockpiles for Confinements:
Stockpiles for Open Lots:
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) licenses and regulates the storage and application of unmanipulated bulk dry animal manure and compost materials used as a fertilizer or soil conditioner under Iowa Code Chapters 200 and 200A.
State law requires manure applicators in Iowa to be certified. Producers who remove and land apply manure from a confinement feeding operation with an animal unit capacity of more than 500 animal units must be certified or use a commercial manure applicator. Producers with small animal feeding operations (500 or less animal unit capacity) or open feedlots may land apply manure without being certified. Commercial manure services and representatives must be certified regardless of the source of the manure (confinement or open feedlot) or the size of operation. All manure applicators in Iowa, regardless of certification requirements, must follow state laws when land applying manure.
The DNR is responsible for the certification program and offers certification for two types of manure applicators:
- Confinement site manure applicators, who are essentially private applicators, applying manure from their own confinement feeding operations that have more than 500 animal units, and not charging a fee. For more information, see the confinement site manure applicator fact sheet.
- Commercial manure applicators (aka commercial manure service representatives) must be associated with a licensed commercial manure service. A commercial manure service is a sole proprietor or business association engaged in the business of transporting, handling, storing, or applying manure for a fee. For more information, see the commercial manure service applicator fact sheet.
Do I need to be certified
to transport, handle, or apply manure? [PDF]
Certification: There are three main options for obtaining certification. Applicators may choose the method that is most convenient and appropriate.
- Training: Iowa State University Extension & Outreach provides in-person training opportunities for manure applicators primarily in January and February each year. A statewide training session for commercial applicators is offered early in January each year via satellite downlink. You may also schedule an appointment to watch the training video at a local ISU Extension office. For more information including study guide materials, training events, and educational program details, please see the Manure Applicator Certification section of their website.
- Testing: Though the DNR strongly encourages applicators to attend the training sessions to keep up with current law changes and technologies, the DNR field offices offer in-person testing sessions. Tests consist of 50 multiple-choice questions.
- Online: The DNR also offers E-Learning and online payment processing for both confinement and commercial applicators. To take the education course online, applicators will need to register for an IowaID. This can be done by clicking on the E-Learning link above and following the prompts.
Manure applicators can view information regarding their renewals, expiration dates, and fees in the online Manure Applicator Certification Database.