IMMAG Updates

April 2016

Welcome to the monthly update for the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) Web site. This update is provided as a service to inform you about changes made to the IMMAG Web Page or items of interest dealing with manure management and air quality from animal feeding operations. If you wish to subscribe to this mailing please click here. You may also view this update with direct links on the CURRENT NEWS site on IMMAG.

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Spring Rains and Lot Runoff:
A group of attendees learn about how a settling basin and pumping systems lets this farmer keep lot runoff out of the ditch and get those nutrients to his corn field. Photo credit: Rachel Klein, Ag & Natural Resources, ISUEO Spring in Iowa brings planting, calving, and wet weather; snowmelt and spring rains can cause challenging conditions for manure management. This is the time of year to spend some time assessing your farmstead to ensure that manure nutrients are not reaching the waters of the state.
Take some time this month and help do your part to protect Iowa’s waters. Perform a visual inspection of your farm, paying close attention to the cow yard, feedlot, manure storage structures, manure stockpiles, and feed storage areas. This practice ensures that everything is in working order and could help you identify any problem areas that could impact water quality.
To assist with your self-assessment, tools are available to help you understand what to look for while surveying your farm. A great place to start is with What to Expect When DNR Inspects, which outlines what the Iowa DNR is looking for when reviewing a facility. Another resource is the Feedlot EMS worksheet, created by the Iowa Beef Center, which allows producers to evaluate their situation and identify any areas of concern.  
To reduce nutrient movement, implement best management practices including:

  • Utilize clean water diversions and gutters for roofs to prevent clean water from coming in contact with areas where it could become contaminated.
  • Scrape open lots frequently to reduce what rain can move.
  • Select flat areas away from water pools or channels to locate stockpiles and compost piles to prevent runoff.
  • Keep feedstuffs dry.
  • Promptly clean-up spilled manure, feed, silage, and bedding.

Wondering if your farm is impacting water quality? ISU Extension and Outreach, in partnership with the Iowa DNR, has water quality testing kits available for check out at 19 extension offices. These kits allow livestock producers to check for ammonia in streams below their feedlots and cow yards and identify the potential impacts if runoff is reaching a stream. More information can be found at the Small Feedlots and Dairy Operations web page on the IMMAG site, including a list of counties hosting kits.
Or if you are interested in seeing what beef farms are doing to help protect water quality, check out this video by Shawn. Manure Management and Sand Handling at Dairy Farms:
Interested in learning more about manure management at dairy farms? Check out this video on Optimizing Nutrient Value of Dairy Manure while Minimizing Risks. Or for more about sand systems at dairy farms? Check out these posts at The Manure Scoop which discuss the science behind sand settling lanes or how long it would take for sand laden more to impact the soils you apply it to.

Example of sand settling lanes and sand stock piling at a dairy recycling their sand for bedding.

Beef Manure Management Systems:
For many years it seemed like most of our beef finishing operations were using some sort of open lot for finishing; however, in the recent years we have seen many different options becoming more common. In 2013 approximately 50% of cattle were finished in an open lot with shelter with another 27% finished in an open lot without a shelter, with approximately 19% and 4% of finishing cattle raised in a bedded confinement and on a slatted floor (deep pit) respectively. However, of the operation had expanded in the last five years about 10% put in slatted floor buildings (deep pits), 40% put in bedded pack barns (monoslopes, gabled roofs, or hoop buildings) (see A 2014 Survey of Iowa Feedlot Operators for more details).

Although there are many considerations in selecting the housing system that works right for your operation, it’s also important to consider the impact on manure. The latest Manure Scoop discusses some of the differences in manure nutrient content from these different types of operations.

Iowa DNR Spill Number:
Beth demonstrates how to use the water quality testing kit (available for check out at 19 extension offices) to tell evaluate if lot runoff is impacting a nearby stream. Photo credit:  Rachel Klein, Ag & Natural Resources, ISUEOManure application season is fast approaching, are you ready? Remember if you have a manure spill it is required that you report it to the Iowa DNR within 6 hours of the spill. If making the call during typical business hours (or there about) try calling your local field office:
Manchester: 563-927-2640
Mason City: 641-424-4073
Spencer: 712-262-4177
Atlantic: 712-243-1934
Des Moines: 515-725-0268
Washington: 319-653-2135

For spills on weekends or during non-business hours use 515-725-8694 to reach the Iowa DNR 24-hour spill line. Make sure you have this number updated in your phone and in the binder of important information of all that useful manure information you keep (like the manure management plan, site specific application instruction) for each facility you apply at.

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Still looking to get your certification or continuing education for 2016 completed? If you are still in need of training, there are still several options for getting your manure training completed. You can get certification by: 1) contacting your County Extension Office to make an appointment to watch the appropriate training video; 2) contacting your local DNR field office to schedule an appointment to take the certification exam; or 3) completing your training on-line!

To utilize the on-line option, you will need a computer, smartphone, or other internet capable device and an internet connection that will support streaming video. To find the online training site, please go to MAC E-Learning. Still have questions about the on-line training options? Here is an article that answers the questions we get the most frequently.

A quick reminder about who needs manure applicator training.

  • If you are in the business of hauling or applying manure, you will need a commercial manure applicator certification.
  • If you haul/apply manure from a confinement animal feeding facility with more than 500 animal units, you will need a confinement site manure applicator certification. You must complete your annual manure application certification training to keep your three-year license current.


The IMMAG Events page is a compilation of manure management related events. Please check the events page often for new listings.

Beef Methane Conference: A conference on methane emissions from beef cattle and climate change will be held on May 11 and 12 at the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel in Lincoln Nebraska. More information and registration information.

Manure Expo: The 2016 North American Manure Expo with be on August 3 & 4 in London, Ohio. The Manure Expo is an industry trade show, manure technology demonstrations, and educational events about manure. Mark this one down on your calendar.

Livestock and Poultry Environmental Management Webcast: On May 20th the LPELC will host a webinar on the implementation and experiences of the National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) around the US. Dr. Shawn Archibeque, Gerald May, and Grag Zwicke will discuss the tool, the national instructions from NRCS on how to use it, and what they are learning from the on-the-ground training. More information.

Wishing you safe manure handling and an efficient and effective planting season,

Dan Andersen
(515) 294-4210
Twitter: @DrManure

Angie Rieck-Hinz
(515) 231-2830
Twitter: @iowamanure

Iowa Manure Management Action Group

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