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The Essential 13: CAFOs

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These examples include program features such as manure relocation programs, manure spreading advisory tools, and operator training. Part C of the compendium describes state regulatory features that integrate approaches across environmental media. These approaches address surface water quality impacts from manure management and environmental impacts in other areas such as air quality, groundwater, or emergency response.


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Although these program features are outside the scope of the CWA, they are included because they illustrate effective approaches to integrating environmental protection in a single regulatory tool, thereby simplifying requirements for farmers and ranchers. The purpose of this document is to share some transferable examples of state programs that are successful in promoting good manure management at animal feeding operations. The state examples that are included are implemented on the ground, and are focused on achieving environmental benefits. This is meant to be a living document which EPA intends to add additional case studies to in the future.

EPA has worked with the U. AADG keeps communication open and improves two-way understandings of viewpoints.

AADG is an informal and iterative group of animal agriculture stakeholders including representatives from the U. Department of Agriculture, all sectors of the animal feeding industry and their associations, academia, and states. The group convenes via conference calls and face-to-face meetings twice per year. Throughout history, people who raise livestock and poultry have used manure as a fertilizer, soil amendment, energy source, even construction material.

Manure contains many useful, recyclable components, including nutrients, organic matter, solids, energy, and fiber. Farmers, gardeners, landscapers, and others commonly use livestock manure as a fertilizer to provide nutrients needed for crop production. Manure nutrients have real value as fertilizer. Like commercial fertilizer, manure must be managed properly to avoid environmental impacts.


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Manure has fertilizer value in its raw form; however, processing manure through digestion, composting, or other means can yield materials that are more portable and whose nutrients are more available to plants, more balanced to crop needs, or less prone to environmental losses. Using fresh manure as a fertilizer to raise crops that will be fed back to the livestock, either directly or as a by-product of further processing, is an excellent way to recycle nutrients. Ideally, fresh manure would be used on the farm where the manure is generated or on a neighboring farm, because fresh manure is expensive to haul even short distances.

Livestock manure is commonly land-applied as a semi-solid or liquid. Farmers can incorporate manure into the soil or inject it under the soil surface to reduce the risk of runoff losses and odor problems. Sometimes manure solids are separated from the liquid. The solids can be used for bedding or for other uses and the liquids can be land applied to both water and fertilize crops. Farmers are the most common users of fresh manure for fertilizer, but home gardeners and landscapers also sometimes fertilize with fresh manure.

Composting livestock manure reduces odors, kills disease-causing agents pathogens , reduces bulk, and stabilizes the manure for easier handling. A properly constructed and managed manure composting operation can also process mortalities Exit dead animals from livestock operations.

In some parts of the country, composting operations must be intensively managed to guarantee pathogen-free compost that meets requirements of both health regulations and public perception. Compost can be applied more evenly and with better control than manure.

Agricultural Environmental Management CAFO: Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry

The nitrogen in compost is not as readily available to plants as the nitrogen in fresh manure, but the availability of phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients from compost is similar to, or higher than, the availability of those nutrients from fresh manure. Farmers and ranchers can use composted manure at their own operations as fertilizer or bedding. Sales of compost can remove excess nutrients from farms and ranches that cannot use all of their manure nutrients for their own needs. Compost is less expensive to transport than fresh manure due to its lower moisture content, and more profitable to transport because of its higher market value.

This means that compost has more potential for use in areas farther from the farm.

Manure compost can be used for many purposes in non-agricultural areas, including site restoration, erosion control, soil remediation, and wetland restoration. Pelletizing compacts fresh manure at high temperature and pressure to convert it into a dry finished product. Pellets are useful as a soil amendment or fertilizer. Because the pellets take up a smaller volume, they can be more easily stored and transported than manure. In some cases, processing can result in a product with a consistent and predictable nutrient content, making it more convenient for crop production and other uses.

The pelletizing process is mainly used for poultry litter but could be applied to separated solids from other manures. Nutrient extraction technologies, or manure nutrient recovery technologies, can remove nutrients from manure for fertilizer products.

Environmental Management of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Nutrient extraction removes elemental nutrients from raw manure, separated liquids, or residuals of anaerobic digestion by chemical precipitation or coagulation. Examples of fertilizer products that can be generated with nutrient extraction systems are ammonium sulfate, calcium phosphate, and magnesium ammonium sulfate struvite crystals.

Bioconversion involves growing organisms on manure or manure nutrients and then harvesting them to use as components of animal feed, fertilizer, or soil amendments. Algae grown on nutrients from dairy wastewater can be harvested to produce a product used in plant fertilizers and high-protein animal feed supplements.

Animal Feeding Operations Rules and Regulations

Black soldier fly larvae eat manure, killing disease-causing agents pathogens and transferring the manure nutrients to their bodies. The manure left over after the larvae are harvested is useful as a soil amendment or fertilizer similar to compost. Worms produce nutrient-rich castings. The castings, along with the manure used to grow the worms, are useful as a fertilizer or soil amendment. The EPA is reviewing additional data submitted during the public review period for the two draft documents; by the SAB panel during the March meeting; and public comments submitted to the SAB.

Recommendation : In order to more effectively determine the extent of air emissions from animal feeding operations, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should provide stakeholders with information on the additional data that it plans to use to supplement the National Air Emissions Monitoring Study.

Status : Closed - Not Implemented. The agency is developing a plan for estimating AFO emissions.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

Additional analyses of its existing data set is necessary to demonstrate that the current data set plus other relevant available data sets are representative and provide an adequate basis for estimating emissions for other farms that are not in the current datasets. Following completion of this effort over the next months, EPA, in conjunction with USDA, will work to understand the latest science related to process-based models for each AFO sector and determine what additional research might be needed to further develop and validate results generated by these models.

Recommendation : In order to more effectively determine the extent of air emissions from animal feeding operations, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should establish a strategy and timetable for developing a process-based model that will provide more sophisticated air emissions estimating methodologies for animal feeding operations. Skip Navigation. Advanced Search. Publicly Released: Sep 24, View Report PDF. Agency Affected : Environmental Protection Agency. Status : Closed - Implemented Comments : In the March 13, Federal Register, the EPA announced the availability of two draft documents related to the development of emission estimating methodologies EEMs for broilers animal feeding operations AFO and lagoons and basins for swine and dairy animal feeding operations.

Nov 20, Publicly Released: Nov 20, Publicly Released: Nov 18,