Manure Management

Manure management refers to the capture, storage, composting, and utilization of livestock manures to improve crop production and protect water quality.

BENEFITS TO MANURE MANAGEMENT

  • Lower Fertilizer Costs
  • Increase Crop Yields and Quality
  • Improve Forage Density
  • Reduce Parasite Loads and Fly Populations
  • Reduce Volume of Livestock Manure as much as 50% during the composting process
  • Protect Water Quality
  • Protect Water Runoff
  • Protect Wildlife Habitat

STORING, COMPOSTING, AND APPLYING LIVESTOCK MANURE

 Y

CÓMO  COMPOSTER Y UTILIZER ESTIÉRCOL DE GANADO

MANURE STORAGE TIPS

  1. The best first step to storing livestock manure is to cover your manure pile. This minimizes risk of nutrients leaching out of the pile into ground and surface waters. Covering your livestock manure pile can also increase the speed of the composting process by controlling moisture levels.
  2. For your manure storage structure, plan to design for at least 6 months of manure storage to prevent the need to spread manure outside of the recommended months of the year. There are many storage options - stock pile, dry stack, composting facility. The most important thing is that you build a system that will work for your management style and goals.
  3. Locate your livestock manure pile or bins on high, dry, and level ground away from any wells, low spots, drainage ways, and surface waters. It is ideal if there is a strip of vegetation, like grass, to create a buffer from the pile to any vulnerable areas on the property that we want to protect. 
  4. To reduce mud, remove manure from your livestock stalls and/or paddocks areas often. For certain footings, livestock manure will needed to be collected daily or weekly. In certain footings like hog fuel, the system you're using will accommodate some manure accumulation. Regularly picking up manure will extend the life of your paddock footings. The less bedding you use in your stalls, the small your livestock manure pile will be and the faster your livestock manure pile will break down.

CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PLANNING YOUR COMPOSTING STRUCTURE

RUNOFF WATER CONSIDERATIONS WHEN PLANNING YOUR COMPOSTING STRUCTURE

MANURE APPLICATION TIPS

  1. The right weather conditions are critical! The right time to apply livestock manure is when there is at least a 3 day dry window with no forecasted rainfall or flood events and during the recommended months on the calendar below.
  2. The right field conditions are key! Wait to apply livestock manure until the fields are dry and the ground is not saturated, frozen, or snow covered. Rule of Thumb: If you can drive of the surface of your field without causing significant damage or compactions, it is likely a good time to spread. 
  3. The amount you apply and the growth state of the plant is important. Manure management ensures that nutrients are applied at the right rate, time, and distribution to well-established and actively growing plants that can utilize the nutrients in the manure right way. Plants require a certain amount of nutrients and a plant's demand for nutrients changes throughout the growing season. Rule of Thumb for Pastures: Spread a third of your pile at a time to grass that is at least 3-4 inches tall. If you have a different crop or an accumulation of livestock manure for more than a few animals, Pierce Conservation District can provide specific guidelines and recommendations for how much many to apply and when to your fields. 
  4. It is important to pay attention to setbacks of sensitive areas when spreading livestock manure. Setbacks refer to the distance between where you spread and where there is any kind of surface water on your land. Setbacks are recommended to minimize the risks to ground and surface waters in your watershed. Refer to the calendar below for the distances each month and apply manure the recommended feet away from wetlands, waterbodies, and ponded areas. To protect wellheads, it is recommended to get as close as you can to a 100 ft. setback when applying livestock manure to that area.

USING RAIN BARRELS TO COLLECT WATER ON THE FARM

Rain barrels are a great way to collect water that is being diverted from your gutters and downspouts off of the roof of your manure bin structures, barns, and livestock shelters. Watch the video below to hear about how you can set these up for your operation. Diverting away water and keeping clean water clean has many benefits to water quality and reduces mud.

MANURE MANAGEMENT RESOURCES

For links to past recorded workshops on manure management, visit our Farm Events and Workshops page.

How To Use and Compost Livestock Manure - Thurston Conservation District publication that includes considerations for composting livestock manure. 

Manure Management Flyer - Thurston Conservation District publication that includes considerations for storing and applying livestock manure. Includes a calendar for best times to apply livestock manure. 

Manure Volume Calculator - NRCS developed excel calculator that allows you to see how much storage you will need for your livestock based on your management practices.

Single Manure Bin Design Plans - Pierce Conservation District publication that includes a materials list and design plans for a simple one bin manure storage structure. 

Small Farm Composting Guide - Washington State University publication that explains how to store, compost, and spread manure. The publication also includes basic designs for a three bin manure storage structure. 

Livestock Manure Management and Livestock Mortality Composting - Oregon State University publication that examples the process of composting livestock manure and aboveground composting methods after a livestock mortality that protects water quality.