Indiana Farmstead Assessment for Drinking Water Protection

Livestock Waste Storage

Introduction Management concerns Indiana Confined Feeding Control Law Waste storage options Solid storage Waste storage location

Abandoned pits Surface water concerns Contacts & references Authors Sources

Livestock Waste Storage Survey


Storage of livestock waste involves simply accumulating the waste in sometype of structure until it can be land applied. This is an important management option available to livestock producers. Waste storage gives the producer greatercontrol over when and where manure nutrients are spread. This strategy reduces the chance for manure to contaminate water resources; however careful manage-ment of both the storage structure and manure applications is required. A failed storage structure can result in significant water quality impacts primarily frombacteria and nutrients. Fish kills can occur due to a sharp reduction in dissolved oxygen when a large amount of organic waste is discharged to a surface water.

Management concerns

An optimal use of waste storage is to improve the timing of manure applica-tions such that manure nutrients are distributed to fields based on crop needs and soil fertility tests, instead of repeated applications on the same field based onconvenience. Storage also reduces the need for spreading manure during winter months when soil is frozen. This minimizes manure nutrient leaching and runoff,conserves nutrients contained in the manure, and saves wear and tear on farm equipment. Finally, storage is valuable, when application is impractical, duringextended periods of bad weather and when crops are actively growing.

The environmental safety of collecting large amounts of livestock waste inone place for an extended period depends on two things:

1) The design and construction of the storage facility.  

2) Thephysical and chemical characteristics of: the soil and
   subsurfacegeologic materials within the storage area; and the soil
   and subsurface geologic materials of the area to which any runoff
   from storage might flow.

If animal waste storage causes any significantwater contamination, the IndianaDepartment of Environmental Management (IDEM) can issue notice of discharge, which may require corrective measures. Problems can be avoided through propersiting and design, and regular inspection of the structure.

Indiana Confined Feeding Control Law

The Indiana Confined Feeding Control Law requires livestock operationsabove certain sizes or those identified as polluters to obtain approval for their manure management systems. The IndianaDepartment of Environmental Management is responsible for the approval. The law requires that livestock operations, subjectto the law, provide: adequate storage capacity for feedlot runoff and manure to permit timely disposal on the land; and adequateequipment and land for waste disposal.

If your operation is not regulated by theconfined feeding law, it is still very important for you to have an appropriate waste storage andmanagement plan. There may be local ordinances that affect your management options,particularly with regard to land application of manure. Your local extension educator or NaturalResources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservationist can assist you. Regardless of the size ofa livestock operation, the waste disposal system should ultimately use the soil as the receiver ofwaste; no waste should be intentionally released to surface water or tile line, or piled near a waterwell.

Waste storage options

Livestock waste can be stored either insolid, semi-solid or liquid states.

	*Liquid facilities hold manure in tanks,pits or bermed
	*Solid facilities use walls and slabs forstacking of heavily
	 bedded manure. 
	*Semi-solid facilities use piston pumps orother conveyances to
	 move manure into containment areas and may separatesolids
	 from liquids.

Liquid or semi-solid storage

Liquid and semi-solid storage systems areself-contained. Groundwater contamination can occur if the facility is not structurally sound,allowing waste materials to seep into the soil. A threat to surface water exists if pits are notemptied frequently enough, allowing wastes to flow over the top of the structure. Liquid storagesystems require the use of pumps and pipes for moving wastes from the barn to the storagestructure. These must be carefully installed and maintained to prevent leaks.

Each time they are emptied, check above-grade steel and concrete structures for cracks or the loss of watertight seals along the outside ofthe unit. If any breaks are apparent, repair them immediately. Likewise, check the walls ofearthen waste storage pits to be certain that liner materials have not been eroded away by pitagitation.

After a period of years, freezing and thaw-ing, as well as wetting and drying, may cause the sidewalls of earthen pits to crack and erode,allowing wastes to seep into the underlying soil or subsurface geologic material. Groundwater contamination will result if the subsurface soildoes not have appropriate physical and biological characteristics to break down contaminantscontained in the leachate.

While seepage from inground waste storagefacilities is not always easy to recognize, there are some signs:

	*A properly designed structure has the capacity to handle
	 wastes from a specific number of animals for a known number
	 of days. If a pit designed for 180 days of storage and
	 receiving designated wasteamounts has not needed pumping for
	 a year, the pit is almost certainly leaking.

	*Evaporation from liquid storage pits is minimal, if the
	 manure forms a crust when it is stored. (Monitoring wells
	 installedaround the pit, upslope and downslope, can be used
	 to confirm the seepage.)

Some facilities for storage of solid or semi-solid manure are designed to allow seepage from the manure stack. In these instances, structuredesign must include treatment for the wastes that seep out. If conditions allow, structures suchas picket dams can be used to hold back solids. Grass filter strips help remove remaining pollut-ants in runoff water. These systems should not be considered on sites with coarse-textured soils,creviced bedrock or shallow water tables. Care must be taken to ensure that the runoff system isnot overloaded.

Both systems require maintenance. Withgrass filter strips, it is important to ensure that the highly concentrated wastes do not "burn"vegetation in the filter strip. A thick, healthy stand of vegetation allows runoff to seep into thesoil and uses the nutrients in the water.

The best way to handle seepage is to chan-nel it into a watertight holding pond or storage tank. In those areas where sufficient soil isunavailable for the construction of filter strips, or where the construction of a holding pond is notfeasible, another option is to build a roof over the structure to eliminate additional rainwater beingadded to the manure stack. Roofed storage systems require adequate bedding to absorb andretain the liquid portion of the waste.

Solid storage

Short-term storage, usually 30-90 days, (120days if IDEM approval is required) is an important option available to farmers. It allows them to hold livestock wastes during periods of bad weather when daily spreading may not be feasible, when crops are growing or when thereis a shortage of crop acres to handle daily hauling and spreading of manure without the threat of runoff.

Short-term storage systems may be appli-cable for small operations that are not subject to the confined feeding law. Farmers with thissystem often find themselves having to stack manure in fields, particularly during periods ofbad weather. This is not a recommended practice since it poses a contamination threat to surfaceand ground water. If manure is frequently stacked in fields, consider constructing a short-term storage facility at that site.

Likewise, many farmers scrape manure into piles in the livestock yard rather than haul it during bad weather or a busy work period. This practice is not recommended because of possible herd health problems and water problems. Theseverity of those problems depends on characteristics of the livestock yard area where the manureis piled and the area to which runoff flows. Also, regulations governing milk production do notallow milking cows to come in contact with stacked manure.

In open housing for young stock, such aspole sheds, wastes are often allowed to accumulate for extended periods of time. Roofs on thesestructures keep rain and snow off the manure. These structures are relatively safe for waterquality if they are protected from surface water runoff, and if adequate bedding is provided toabsorb liquids in the wastes. To minimize water quality impacts, provide adequate bedding toreduce seepage and clean these sheds as frequently as possible.

Waste storage location

The location of livestock waste storage inrelation to any well is an important factor in protecting the farm water supply. For manurestacks, the Indiana State Board of Health recommends a minimum separation of 50 feet. For liquid-tight manure storage structures, the recommended minimum separation distance is 100 feet.

While observing these minimum wellseparation distances may help to protect your own well, poorly designed or poorly maintainedlivestock waste storage facilities could still contaminate the groundwater that supplies otherlocal drinking water wells. Protecting the groundwater resource as a whole can helpprotect your neighbors' wells, as well as possible drinking water supplies for future generations.

Locating manure storage facilities downslope from the well is also important for protection of your water supply. Depth to sea-sonal high water table or fractured bedrock, along with soil type at the waste storage location,is another important factor. Sites where soils and slopes could allow a waste leak to easily reach awell or surface water are not good locations for waste storage. If your existing storage facility islocated in such a site regular checks for leaks is necessary to protect your drinking water supply.

Abandoned pits

Abandoned waste storage pits, especiallyearthen ones, can pose significant water quality problems. Any abandoned structure should beemptied. The remaining hole should be filled and leveled.

Manure packs from pole sheds no longer inuse should also be removed and the wastes land applied. If manure is stacked in fields, it shouldbe removed as soon as conditions permit.

Surface water concerns

Although this farmstead assessment pack-age focuses on groundwater, it is important to note that most incidents of water pollution dueto manure storage are incidents where surface water was contaminated by runoff from a failedor improperly maintained storage structure. Serious damage to water quality can occur inthese situations and the responsible landowner may be required to pay a significant penalty.

Be sure to inspect your structure regularlyfor surface runoff problems, make sure the structure's design is appropriate for potentialheavy rains (see your Extension educator or NRCS conservationist about this), be present atall times during pit pumping and spreader loading, and prepare an action plan in case a spillor overflow incident should occur.

Contacts and References

Design assistance and technical standards
for livestock yards and runoff control systems

	Indiana Department of Environmental
	Management (IDEM) 
	Land Application Group,
	Water Quality Section 
	P.O. Box 6015
	Indianapolis, IN 46206-6015

	Natural Resources Conservation Service 
	6013 Lakeside Blvd. 
	Indianapolis, IN 46278-2933

	Purdue University Cooperative
	Extension Service 
	888/EXT-INFO or local office

What to read about...  

Handling, management and storage of livestock waste

	*AMANURE computer program (1)
	*MBUDGET computer program (1)
	*ID-114 Runoff Control Systems for OpenLivestock Feedlots(2)
	*WQ-7 Animal Agriculture's Effect onWater Quality -- Pastures
	 and Feedlots (2)
	*WQ-8 Animal Agriculture's Effect onWater Quality -- Waste
	 Storage (2)

Planning and design of livestock wastestorage facilities

	*ID-120 Design and Operation of LivestockWaste Lagoons (2)
	*MWPS-7 Dairy Freestall Housing &Equipment Handbook (1,3)
	*MWPS-18 Livestock Waste Facilities andHandbook (1,3)
	*Livestock Manure Storage (CD-ROM) (4)


Sarah Brichford
Cheri Janssen
Joe Yahner
Joe Eigel



1. Purdue Farm Building Plan Service
   1146 Agricultural and Biological
   Engineering Building
   West Lafayette, IN  47907-1146 

2. Purdue University Cooperative Extension
   offices or
   Media Distribution Center
   301 South 2nd Street Lafayette, IN  47901-1232
   765/494-6794 or 1-888/EXT-INFO

3. Midwest Plan Service
   122 Davidson Hall
   Iowa State University
   Ames, IA 50011 

4. Center for Technology Transfer and
   Pollution Prevention
   1146 Agricultural and Biological
   Engineering Building 
   West Lafayette, IN  47907-1146

Click below for survey 7

Livestock Waste Storage Survey

Reviewed 5/1/01

It is the policy of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, David C. Petritz, Director, that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO.