Prior to 1997, many townships across PA passed ordinances in an effort to regulate manure management. These ordinances varied greatly across the state so PA, in an effort to provide statewide uniformity to manure management regulations, passed the Nutrient Management Act in 1993. This law took effect in October 1997 and was known as Act 6. The Act provided statewide uniformity by super ceding all township ordinances that were more stringent. The Nutrient Management Law, Act 6, was revised in 2006 and is now referred to as Act 38.
Act 38 provides regulatory oversight of nutrients by requiring high density operations (concentrated animal operation, CAOs) develop and implement an approved nutrient management plan. These plans must be developed by a state certified nutrient management specialist and submitted to the conservation district for review and approval. A CAO is defined as an agricultural operation with 8 or more animal equivalent units where the animal density exceeds two AEUs per acre on an annualized basis. An animal unit is defined as 1000 lbs of animal weight. The following calculation is used to determine the number of AEUs on an operation:
Average number of animals on a typical production day X average animal weight (lb) X number of production days per year/365,000 = total AEUs for each animal type
To determine the animal density, divide the AEUs by the number of acres of land suitable for the application of manure. These acres include cropland, hayland or pastureland (owned or rented) that (1) is an integral part of the operation and (2) is or will be used for the application of manure from the operation. A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) is a good tool designed to efficiently utilize nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus from manure and fertilizer, in an environmentally safe manner to grow crops. The NMP contains balanced manure and fertilizer field application rates for nitrogen and phosphorus based on crop nutrient needs. Crop nutrient needs are based on the crop uptakes of nutrients and projected crop yields. Act 38 NMPs also address manure collection and storage facilities, animal concentration areas and manure application setbacks from surface water to ensure water quality is maintained at the animal operation. Funding may be available for assistance with the cost for NMP development and BMP implementation. For more information, contact the Nutrient Management Specialist at the Conservation District at 717-264-5499.
All farms and private landowners that land apply manure and/or have animals (cattle, swine, poultry, horses, llamas, goats, etc.) on their property in Pennsylvania must have a Manure Management Plan. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has published a workbook designed for landowners to be able to write their own plans. We offer assistance by hosting plan-writing workshops several times each year and one-on-one plan development. Please call us, stop by our office to get a workbook, sign up for our next workshop, and/or get more information. You can also download the workbook via the link provided below.
Click here for the Land Application of Manure-Manure Management Plan Guidance