Managing Heavy Use Areas or ACAs

Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs) are self-explanatory—animals congregate there and it gets bare, quickly.  ACAs are one of the potential sources of pollution runoff from a farm.  Managing manure and sediment runoff from an animal concentration area (ACA) is required under Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law and Nutrient Management Act.

Whether an ACA is called a turn-out lot, exercise lot, corral, barnyard, heavy use area, or sacrifice lot, good management is critical.  Unmanaged ACAs become a primary source of sediment and nutrient pollution in water. Overloaded with manure and bare soil, one heavy rain can cause polluted water to flow off site.

How to manage soil loss and reduce manure runoff:

  1. Minimize the size of the denuded area(s).
  2. Select a good location for the ACA. Pick an area that is high and dry.
  3. Divert clean water away from the ACA by installing swales to redirect storm-water from up slope fields or pastures.
  4. Direct polluted runoff into a storage area or a correctly sized, well maintained vegetative filter strip.
  5. Remove accumulated manure from the ACA routinely.
  6. Keep ACAs away from streams and other water bodies

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Even under the best management, in wet conditions ACAs can become an unattractive, muddy mess. When properly managed, ACAs do not cause environmental concerns, but they can still be unattractive to neighbors and passers-by. It is best to keep ACAs to a minimum size, and away from property lines or areas highly visible from the road.

To make sure an existing ACA is well managed, compliant with regulations, or for technical assistance to create a new ACA, contact your local County Conservation District or NRCS office.

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