Early this week with little fanfare, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection rolled out its revised guidelines for managing, storing and spreading manure. It's called the "Manure Management Plan Guidance". And, it's significant to note that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation commends the two-year-long effort.
"This workbook is a long-overdue tool that guides farmers through the steps of developing a customized plan, and how to carry it out." says Kelly O'Neill, CBF's agricultural policy specialist in Pennsylvania. "It enables farmers to keep the manure nutrients on the fields, where it's needed, and out of local waterways. At the same time, it doesn't create onerous requirements for farmers facing tight financial circumstances."
Penn Ag Industries Association also applauds the revamping into a farmer friendly, useful tool which, when implemented, will bring all Commonwealth farms into compliance with protecting our natural resources for future generations," adds Jennifer Reed-Henry, chair of DEP's Agricultural Advisory Board and assistant vice president of Penn Ag Industries.
The Department worked with a subcommittee of the Board that included farm organizations, environmental organizations, Penn State, Natural Resources Conservation Service and State Conservation Commission staff. The manual comes after two years discussions and negotiations with many in the livestock industry.
Through the new guidelines, every farm producing or using manure will be required to develop a written manure management plan to be kept on-site, with records of manure applications and other on-farm practices. The 84-page document includes worksheets for those necessary records.
Manure Management Plan Guidance requires application setbacks from streams or other water bodies; defines maximum winter manure application practices and rates; prescribes best management practices for barnyards, feedlots, and other animal concentration areas, as well as for temporary manure stockpiles; and additional practices, to prevent manure runoff to water bodies.
Included tables split out nitrogen and phosphorus crop removal rates for manure by species: horses, beef steers, beef cow-calf, broilers, layers, swine and dairy. It covers pasture manure applications. It also covers manure transfer and storage inspection recordkeeping.
The manual, with instructions, rate charts, and a workbook, is online at www.elibrary.dep.state.pa.us/dsweb/Get/Document-86014/361-0300-002%20combined.pdf