What goes in must come out: manure and nutrient management
In a cow-calf operation where cattle are often fed in pens for a portion of the year, pens are generally cleaned at least annually to remove accumulated manure and bedding. While backgrounders and feedlots have enforced protocols to manage and store manure, general guidelines apply to all producers who are handling and storing manure.
Manure offers a long-term source of nutrients that can influence soil properties, increase soil carbon and nitrogen, and alter soil phosphorus and potassium concentrations along with other nutrients. Best management practices must be followed across all sectors from cow/calf to backgrounders and feedlots.
Though specifics vary by region, recommendations include:
- avoid short term stockpiles on sandy soils, rock quarries, or gravel pits
- use a concrete pad if possible, to prevent nutrient leaching into soil and groundwater
- have runoff containment, such as a lagoon
- ensure that stored manure areas are at least 60 metres from drilled water wells, 400 metres from municipal wells and 120 metres from all other wells, streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds
- the slope of the land where manure is stockpiled must not be greater than 3% to avoid overland runoff
- keep winter feeding sites and corrals at least 30 metres from bodies of water
Treatment of stored manure can include stockpiling, composting, drying, and less commonly, separation and filtering. These methods reduce moisture content, which reduces volume and odour. Stockpiling (no treatment), composting and drying are the most common treatment strategies in beef cattle operations.
Visit our new webpage for more information on the benefits, use and storage of manure.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Environmental Guidelines for Livestock Producers
- Prince Edward Island: Agricultural Waste Management
- Nova Scotia: Environmental Regulations Handbook for Nova Scotia Agriculture
- New Brunswick: Nutrient Management
- Quebec: Agricultural Operations Regulation, Environment Quality Act
- Ontario: Nutrient Management Act, 2002
- Manitoba: Restrictions on Winter Application of Nutrients
- Saskatchewan: Regulation of Intensive Livestock Operations in Saskatchewan
- Alberta: Manure management guidelines and legislation
- British Columbia: Code Of Practice For Agricultural Environmental Management
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