The lowdown on short-term manure storage

Provincial specialist Chris Ullmann says producers need to review the rules before using short-term manure storage

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Short-term manure storage allows producers to manage their manure and field activities, but can raise issues, says a specialist in confined feeding operations with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

“It’s also an activity that often generates questions,” said Chris Ullmann. “Short-term storage can be concerning to neighbours if the rules are not followed or if people don’t understand why you would store manure in a temporary location.”

Producers use short-term storage for a variety of reasons, he said.

“They can store their manure to avoid spreading when the potential for run-off losses is high, like when the ground is frozen, saturated or flooded,” said Ullmann. “They may also use short-term storage so that they can apply the manure at an appropriate time or at agronomic rates. As well, temporary sites can be used for composting in the field.”

The practice is regulated by the Agricultural Operation Practices Act.

“These rules are in place to protect surface, groundwater, soil (from nutrient accumulation) and to reduce impacts on neighbours,” said Ullmann. “Producers need to meet setbacks from neighbours, water bodies, water wells, groundwater and flooded areas, to protect water quality and reduce nuisance impact.

“As well, the site must be short term and temporary. For example, if you store in early November and spread in late May (seven months), you must not use that spot again for another two years.”

Ullmann recommends farmers read the Agricultural Operation Practices Act brochure on manure storage.

“The 2008 AOPA reference guide is one of the best resources I have to help people understand the act and its regulations — it’s probably the No. 1 document that I hand out,” he said.

To get a copy, go to the Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website, email, or call 310-FARM (3276) and ask to speak to a confined feeding operations extension specialist.

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