IFB highlights IEPA manure winter application rules pertaining to all hog farms

Answers to your questions about winter manure guidelines, application plans and where to find more information.

By Kay Shipman

Editor’s note: FarmWeek is highlighting manure application requirements in winter for Illinois swine, beef and dairy farms.

Illinois Farm Bureau wants to help farmers who raise hogs better understand Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) regulations pertaining to manure applications during the winter.

Question: Do the regulations apply to my hog farm?

Answer: Specific requirements for winter manure applications pertain to all hog farms. IEPA rules include specific provisions for applying liquid or solid manure to frozen, ice or snow-covered ground. IEPA defines frozen ground as soil that is frozen from the surface anywhere from a half-inch to 8 inches deep.

11-28_You Need To Know

Pork producers should avoid surface manure applications when the ground is frozen or covered by ice or snow. These steps may include emptying manure storage in the fall. If the farm lacks sufficient storage to last until spring, a farmer should consider transferring the manure to other manure structures.

If winter application is absolutely necessary because no other options exist, a farmer must follow certain criteria. Limit applications to areas with less than 5 percent slope or with adequate erosion control practices. Select fields with the most residue, such as cornstalks, rather than bean stubble or fields with a cover crop.

Apply manure far from any surface water or surface water conduit, including tile inlets, grass waterways or field ditches. Farmers should consider using a reduced application rate and applying only as much manure as necessary until a better application window becomes available.   

Hog farms defined as an unpermitted large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) or a permitted CAFO have limited options for winter manure applications.

Related: Manure winter application rules applied to two hog farm examples. Click here

A hog farm is defined as an unpermitted large CAFO if it confines 2,500 hogs weighing 55 or more pounds or 10,000 hogs weighing less than 55 pounds for more than 45 days in a 12-month period.

A farm is defined as a permitted CAFO if it, regardless of size, has a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit with IEPA.

Unpermitted large CAFOs and permitted CAFOs are prohibited from surface manure applications on frozen, ice- or snow-covered ground unless all the following conditions are present:

- No practical alternatives to transfer or dispose of manure at any other facility or location

- Manure cannot be injected or incorporated within 24 hours of application

- Before Dec. 1, the farm owner/operator took steps to provide 120 days of storage, but those failed and insufficient storage volume exists

- The owner/operator notified IEPA in writing by Dec. 1 that the CAFO has less than 120 days of available manure storage

- A storage structure discharge to a surface water is expected

Q: Does my farm need a winter application plan? What must the plan include?

A: Unpermitted large CAFOs that want to qualify for an agricultural stormwater exemption and permitted CAFOs must have a winter application plan – whether or not manure is applied in winter. The plan must include the following:

- A quarter-mile setback from nonfarm residence

- No discharge during the manure application

- No surface applications on frozen ground within 24 hours of a predicted storm for a quarter-inch of precipitation

- No surface application on ice- or snow-covered ground within 24 hours of a predicted storm for a tenth of an inch precipitation

- On fields where manure is applied on frozen, ice- or snow-covered ground, the farmer must expect seven days of below-freezing temperatures after the application, must visually monitor runoff from the site until ice and/or snow melts, and must report to IEPA any runoff as a discharge, using the report protocol

Unpermitted large CAFOs and permitted CAFOs surface applying manure on frozen, ice or snow-covered ground must select fields with:

- Adequate existing erosion and runoff control practices and slope of 5 percent or less

- Surface residue or vegetative buffers measuring 200 feet between the land application area and surface water, grassed waterways, tile inlets or other surface-water conduits

- Soil erosion losses below T (tolerable soil loss with erosion factor for soils available from Natural Resources Conservation Service) and soil phosphorus levels of less than 300 pounds per acre

On those fields, normal setbacks from surface waters, wells, etc., are multiplied based on the field slope.

Q: Where do I go for more information?

A: The Illinois Agricultural Coalition, which includes IFB, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Milk Producers’ Association and Illinois Pork Producers Association, developed resource guides available in swine, beef and dairy editions. The guides clarify and simplify IEPA rules and identify best management practices.

For more information or to obtain a free resource guide, email Lauren Lurkins, IFB director of natural and environmental resources, at llurkins@ilfb.org.

Want more? Come to a micro talk

Tim Maiers with Maiers Ag Consulting will discuss what livestock farmers must do to comply with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency rules and best management practices at noon, Dec. 3 in Theater 1 during the Micro Talks at Illinois Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Chicago. Click here for a full micro talk schedule.

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