Manure Management

The PA Agricultural Ombudsman Program provides training for farmers about “Manure Management for Environmental Protection”.  If you or a group of farmers would like training or information, contact Beth or Shelly.

All farming operations, including equine operations, that land apply manure or agricultural process wastewater, whether they generate the manure or import it from another operation, MUST have a written Manure Management Plan.  All farming operations that include an Animal Concentration Area (ACA) or pasture MUST have a written Manure Management Plan.

For farms not defined as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs), Manure Management Plans can be prepared by the farmer, although the farmer may benefit from getting assistance by those trained and experienced in developing plans.  Manure Management Plans do not have to be submitted for approval but must be kept on the farm and made available upon request.

There is a workbook available for farmers to write your own Manure Management Plan.  The workbooks look a little overwhelming if you don’t know what is contained in them.  The majority of the workbook is background explanation, examples, record-keeping forms, and charts you may need to reference to complete the Plan.  Only a small percentage of the workbook actually needs to be completed. A workbook is available through your local County Conservation District office or regional Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) office.  You may also download and print a copy at

Many Conservation Districts in PA have hosted and will continue to host workshops for farmers on how to write your own Manure Management Plan using the workbooks.  Contact your local Conservation District for more assistance.

The PAOneStop website allows farmers to generate high quality maps for their farms that help meet the requirements of the Manure Management Plans, although hand-drawn maps are acceptable too.

Additional information can be found here and here.

Sections of a Manure Management Plan

Section 1: General information about the farm

Section 2: Mechanical Manure Application

  • Manure and fertilizer application rates for crop groups
  • Manure application setbacks from environmentally sensitive areas
  • Requirements for winter application

Special Note on Winter Manure Application:

Winter application of manure is discouraged.  DEP encourages farmers to use other management like solid manure stacking and liquid manure storage.  You may winter spread, but there are additional conditions and restrictions, including:

  • Setback of 100 ft. from top of stream banks, lakes and ponds
  • No application on fields with slopes greater than 15%
  • All fields must have minimum 25% crop residue at application time or an established and growing crop or cover crop
  • Maximum application rates of 5000 gal/ac or 20 tons/ac non-poultry manure and 3 tons/ac poultry manure

“Winter” is identified as:

  • December 15 through February 28 or
  • Anytime the ground is frozen at least 4 inches deep or
  • Anytime the ground is snow covered.

Section 3: Farm Maps identifying field boundaries and acreage, environmentally sensitive areas, manure storage structures and stockpiling areas, pastures, ACAs and roads.

Section 4: Record keeping.

Farmers are required to keep records of manure application, crop yield, manure export and manure storage observations.

Section 5: Manure storage and stockpiling/stacking areas

The Plan must identify any manure storage and stockpiling/stacking areas on the farm.  Manure and agricultural process wastewater must be properly stored.  Manure stacking on crop fields includes 100 ft. setbacks from environmentally sensitive areas and stockpiles must be on lands less than 8% slope.

Section 6: Pasture Management

Farmers have options for pastures, including

  • Maintain “dense vegetation throughout the entire growing season” which minimizes bare spots and maintains average vegetation height of at least 3 inches.
  • OR develop a Prescribed Grazing Plan, as outlined in NRCS PA Technical Guide Practice Standard 528

Section 7: Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs)

The Plan should include barnyards, feedlots, loafing areas, exercise lots or other similar animal confinement areas that will not maintain the dense vegetation of a pasture.  ACAs are not pastures.  When managing ACAs, a farmer should:

  • Divert clean water away from the ACA
  • Collect or treat dirty water flowing from the ACA
  • Limit animal access to streams
  • Minimize the size of the ACA
  • Move feeding and water areas away from streams
  • Routinely remove manure

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