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Managing manure: PA issues new manual

November 16, 2011

The Wayne Conservation District (WCD) board of directors learned at its meeting on November 9 that a new Pennsylvania manure management manual has been issued and is now in effect since its publication in the PA Bulletin on October 29. Those who handle animal manure must complete plans based on the new manual.

Peter Tarby, DEP Water Management and Chesapeake Bay Program nutrient management specialist, who provided the information, stressed that the focus right now is on education and outreach to those who will need to complete plans. “We’re not out to go after anybody,” Tarby said. DEP is encouraging conservation districts statewide to be proactive and develop Agricultural Compliance Policies to inform agricultural operations of their obligations under Chapter 91.36 (manure management planning).
Concerns that the new manual may alarm the farming community were raised during the meeting.

Wayne County Commissioner Brian Smith worried that the process could seem overwhelming at first, and urged WCD staff to offer training and assistance. “The sooner the better, before there’s a fear factor that spreads through the farm community and everybody’s agitated,” said Smith. “We need to let them know that the district can offer assistance in writing new plans.”

WCD staff responded that they are planning educational sessions for farmers, stables, commercial operations and hobby farmers with just a few animals. Special outreach will target the needs of the horse community. The sessions are expected to occur in December (contact WCD at 570/253-0930 for more information).

In Pennsylvania, statewide regulations require that any person who handles animal manure must have a manure management plan. People who own animals addressed in the manual—such as chickens, hogs, cows and horses—must complete a current plan using the new manual and its workbook. Those who own animals not addressed in the manual, such as sheep and goats, can use the book’s values in preparing their plans.

The new manual is designed to be user-friendly and contains a sample plan that farmers can follow and complete by themselves. Broken into seven sections, it focuses on basic farm information, manure application rates and timing, record-keeping, mapping, manure storage structures, pasture management and more.