Feedlot Update - January 2016

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Feedlot Update

January 2016

Manure land application in winter requires extra care

winter manure land application

Land-applying livestock manure in winter requires much greater attention to locations and weather. And with increasing variability during winter, weather even more so. The main concern comes from insufficient incorporation, and runoff from frozen and snow-covered soil. (See article: "Research shows winter application of manure is a bad idea," from the Conservation Technology Information Center).

For large livestock farms with state or federal operating permits, land application of liquid manure is prohibited after Nov. 30 on frozen or snow-covered soils, unless an emergency application is approved. However, unlike last winter's early freeze-up, some current measures at a 6-inch depth show soil temperatures at or even above freezing. When planning to land apply either solid or liquid manure, applicators should always check soil conditions and weather forecasts. The Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture provides a webpage with links to soil temperature sites around the state.

Regardless of whether or not they have an operating permit, all livestock operations need to follow the Minnesota 7020 rules. During winter land application they must maintain a 300-foot setback from all sensitive features and use other best management practices to prevent manure from running off, and preserving its nutrient value for next year’s crop. For more information see the fact sheet, "Managing manure land application during adverse weather conditions."  Wisconsin farmers have access to the Manure Management System AdvisorySystem map, which provides real-time weather information about runoff risk. The Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture is working on a similar map.

Some common sense best management practices include:

  • Manure is applied more than 300 feet from sensitive features including lakes, streams, open tile inlets, sinkholes, water supply wells, mines and quarries, intermittent streams, un-bermed drainage ditches, or public water wetlands;
  • No active snowmelt is occurring that can create runoff from an application field. Active snowmelt is deemed to be occurring if there are two or more inches of snow on the field and maximum temperatures that exceed 40 degrees F. are occurring or are predicted to exceed 40 degrees F. within 24 hours of spreading manure;
  • No rainfall over 0.25 inches is predicted by the National Weather Service with a probability greater than 50 percent within 24 hours of the end of the application period;
  • Slopes should be less than or equal to six percent on the entire portion of the field where manure is land applied.
  • Water or ice should not occupy tillage furrows to the extent that additional snowmelt or precipitation cannot be contained between furrows or in other depressional storage areas within the field. 

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Legislative report details county program results, resources

county program legislative report cover

A report to the Minnesota Legislature on the delegated county feedlot program is available online via links to the Legislative Reports and Feedlot Program webpages, or directly to a copy of the report. In 2013 the Legislature requested this report from the MPCA.

The report summarizes the 2013 and 2014 work of the 53 Minnesota counties (currently 52) that are delegated to administer the state feedlot rule for facilities that do not require NPDES or SDS permits.

Delegated counties are a key component of the MPCA’s feedlot program. They provide local understanding and commitment to the regulatory components of the feedlot program and to obtaining technical and financial assistance for feedlot owners. Their responsibilities include registration, permitting, inspections, education and assistance, complaint follow-up and environmental improvement. In 2014 their work included:

  • Registration: 18,526 feedlots registered.
  • Permits: 156 construction and 65 interim permits issued.
  • Inspections: 2,975 inspections performed.
  • Producer education and assistance: 46 workshops attended by 1,221 producers.
  • Feedlot environmental improvements: 214 practices were implemented (buffers, manure storage, relocation, etc.).
  • Enforcement: 68 warning letters, 24 violation notices, and 5 court cases.
  • Total state grant funding per year: $1,959,000. 

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NPDES and SDS permit annual reports due March 1

Annual reports for livestock farms with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System or State Disposal System permits are due March 1, 2016. Forms are available on the MPCA feedlot program website. Links to the form are located on the feedlot program permits and forms webpage. Paper copies of the form may be requested by contacting the MPCA regional offices. The office phone numbers are listed on page 5. All land application records for the 12-month period starting Sept. 1, 2014, through Aug. 31, 2015, must be submitted as part of the report and on the included forms. For farms that do not transfer manure, land application records can also be generated and submitted using the MPCA excel based Manure Management Planner under Create Crop Year Records. A link to the planner is located on the feedlot program Nutrient and Manure Management webpage. Annual reports provide valuable information for determining compliance with Minnesota’s feedlot rules. Failure to submit annual reports by the March 1 deadline may result in an enforcement action from the MPCA. 

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NPDES general permit renewals, SDS permits due Jan. 31

A letter has been sent to feedlot owners and operators with permit coverage under the 2011-2016 general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)/State Disposal System (SDS) permit (number MNG44000) reminding them that their current permit coverage will expire on Jan. 31.

Feedlots with 1,000 animal units or more must submit a permit application for either the NPDES or the SDS Permit prior to that date. According to recent legislation, feedlots under 1,000 animal units may choose to either apply for continued permit coverage, or, if they have no discharge, may decline the permit. If the latter, a notice of permit termination is requested. 

To ensure continued permit coverage and to avoid potential enforcement for operating without a permit, owners that are required to maintain permit coverage must submit a permit application for either the NPDES or the SDS Permit by Jan. 31.

A single permit application has been developed for use when applying for either the NPDES or the SDS permit. The manure management plan, submitted as part of the permit application for either the SDS or NPDES permit, must be done on a form provided by the MPCA.

A fact sheet, titled “NPDES and SDS Permits for Feedlots,” is available to assist in determining the type of permit coverage preferred or required for a facility. Forms and factsheet can be found on MPCA feedlot website at: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/quick-links/feedlot-program

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2016 feedlot inspection records calendar available online

2016 feedlot calendar

The 10th edition of the MPCA feedlot program inspection records calendar is now available on the publication webpage (scroll to bottom of page). A limited number of printed copies will be available at Pork Congress and MPCA regional offices.

Use the daily check boxes to record regular inspections of water lines, weekly basin inspections and depth mark readings, storm water and runoff controls, and perimeter tile inspections monthly. The calendar notations would fulfill those NPDES and SDS permit record-keeping requirements.

Feedlot web page updates under way

The MPCA is working on a redesign of its feedlot program webpages, and updating documents. The current organization of links and documents dates back to 2005. Some design changes have occurred recently with the agency's overall redesign of its webpages. The new feedlot webpage layout will use a tab format to improve access to the various sections. Comments and suggestions for the webpages are welcome and may be sent to Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972, forrest.peterson@state.mn.us.

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Elk breeders convention Jan. 9 in Willmar


The annual convention of Minnesota Elk Breeders Association was held Jan. 9 in Willmar. The USDA's Census of Agriculture shows that Minnesota leads the U.S. in farmed elk production and is home to 141 elk farms raising more than 4,200 elk. The association's new website, sponsored in part by the state's Minnesota Grown program, was created to highlight the shortage of elk products and the need for more elk producers.

The group's president, Mark Lucas, says the elk industry is enjoying unprecedented demand for elk meat, velvet antler for the health-supplement market and hard antler for the dog-chew market. He said demand for trophy bulls and breeding stock has risen considerably, as well. For more information about the Minnesota Elk Breeders Association, go to mneba.org. - AP, 10-11-14

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News briefs

Dakota County withdraws from delegated county feedlot program

The Dakota County board of commissioners voted to withdraw from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency delegated county feedlot program effective Dec. 31, 2015. The reason given was "increasing demands without corresponding increases in state funding.” MPCA staff Mark Gernes and Paul Brietzke are now covering feedlot program duties in Dakota County. Mark Gernes: 507-206-2643, mark.p.gernes @state.mn.us; Paul Brietzke: 507-206-2616, paul.brietzke@state.mn.us. The county feedlot program is a cooperative arrangement between the MPCA and county government to administer Minnesota's feedlot rule. County feedlot programs are responsible for the implementation of feedlot rules and regulations in 52 (as of Jan. 1, 2016) Minnesota counties including most of the major feedlot counties.

MPCA permit forms available at Pork Congress

Feedlot program staff will be participating in the trade show and seminars at Pork Congress Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 19-20 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. All are welcome to visit the MPCA booth (#328) at the convention trade show. Application forms for NPDES and SDS permits will be available, along with annual report and permit termination forms. George Schwint of the MPCA Willmar office will be a presenter during the manure applicator workshop Tuesday afternoon. Other MPCA feedlot program staff planning to attend include Steve Schmidt, Dana Leibfried, Desiree Hohenstein, and Forrest Peterson.

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Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center news

LPE News logo

Webcast: Construction and Maintenance of a Manure Pond

The first in a two-part series on manure pond liners, this segment will cover the purpose of liners, testing procedures (soil permeability), and installation/maintenance case studies. Presenters are Bill Reck and Steve Reinsch, USDA NRCS and Joe Harrison, Washington State University. More... Jan. 22 at 1:30 p.m.

More on Webcasts...

What's Going On In the LPELC?

Expert Database. Are you looking for someone who is an expert on a particular topic? Someone who is in your geographical area? Check out the manure experts database, which can be sorted by several criteria. There is also a spot where you can add your name to the list!  More...

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In the news

Column: Water quality summit should focus on collaboration
AgWeek, 1/4/16
U.S. announces additional support for Iowa producers to improve nutrient management and water quality efforts
USDA news release, 1/5/16

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Jan. 19-20, 2016: Pork Congress, Minneapolis Convention Center.
Jan. 27-28: Minnesota Ag Expo, Verizon Center, Mankato.
Feb. 9: Nutrient Management Conference, Jackpot Junction, Morton.
March 16-17, 2016: Midwest Poultry Federation convention, St. Paul RiverCentre.

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Send the news

The MPCA Feedlot Update welcomes news from partners about, projects, people, and upcoming events. Email submissions to forrest.peterson@state.mn.us. Past issues of Feedlot Update are available on the feedlot program publications webpage.