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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers.
Visit your local county extension office.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Farming on the Fringes

One question that I get on a regular basis is about the storage and management of manure on livestock farms. Where can I store it, how far from a stream or a neighbor should it be stored, what other management requirements might there be. A survey of New Jersey horse farmers taken several years ago indicated that over 80% of survey respondents stored manure over 200 feet from water, wetlands or a neighbor. Some guidelines for manure storages are found in the following table.

Minimum distances (feet) between manure storage areas and other activities
Property line                                                                   50
Residence or place of business                                      200
Private well or other potable water source                     100
Wetlands or surface (streams, pond, lakes)                   100
Subsurface drainage pipe                                                25
Water table (seasonal high)                                              3
Bedrock                                                                           3                        
(Adapted from On-Farm Composting Handbook, NRAES 54, 1999)

Finally, how should manure be stored? In addition to the distance requirements for storage it should meet the following requirements:

1. It should be stored in a level area.
2. The base should be impermeable.
3. It can be covered, but this is not a requirement. Whether covered or uncovered it storm water and leachate leaving the pile should be management to prevent any runoff reach wetlands or surface streams.
4. A vegetative filter can be an excellent means to manage storm water and leachate.

Vegetative filter strips are land areas of either planted or indigenous vegetation, situated between a potential pollutant source area and a surface-water body that receives runoff (see figure below). The term 'buffer strip' is sometimes used interchangeably with filter strip, but filter strip is the preferred usage. Runoff may carry sediment and organic matter, and plant nutrients and pesticides that are either bound to the sediment or dissolved in the water. A properly designed and operating filter strip provides water-quality protection by reducing the amount of sediment, organic matter, and some nutrients and pesticides, in the runoff at the edge of the field, and before the runoff enters the surface-water body. Filter strips also provide localized erosion protection since the vegetation covers an area of soil that otherwise might have a high erosion potential.

Often constructed along stream, lake, pond or sinkhole boundaries, filter strips installed on pasture or cropland not only help remove pollutants from runoff, but also serve as habitat for wildlife, and provide an area for field turn rows and haymaking. Livestock should be fenced out of filter strips to maximize the pollutant filtering potential. Additionally, filter strips may provide increased safety by moving machinery operations away from steep stream and ditch banks.

Filter strips are an edge-of-the-field best management practice. They often are used in conjunction with other sound agricultural and land management practices, such as pasture management, soil testing, and proper nutrient and pest management. Because of their potential environmental benefits, filter strips are recommended by a number of state and federal agencies as both an urban and agricultural best management practice.

-Source: Ohio State University Extension

For more information please follow the information at the following link: Rutgers University Animal Waste Management Pages.

- Michael Westendorf