Education to Improve Feedlot, Manure, and Nutrient Management

Project Staff: 

Principal Investigator: Jim Anderson, WRC Co-Director, and Professor, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota

Additional Staff: Kevin Blanchet, University of Minnesota Extension, Dennis Busch, University of Minnesota Extension, Les Everett, WRC, University of Minnesota, Bruce Montgomery, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Philip Nesse, University of Minnesota Extension, David Wall, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Funding: 

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (EPA 319 grant)

Summary: 

Final Report

The final phase of this project, also known as the Feedlot Rule Education Project, was successfully completed in 2004. The goal of this project was, through education, to enable livestock producers, their agronomic professionals, and agency staff to reduce the environmental impact of manure, as specified in the new Minnesota feedlot rules and the EPA-USDA joint strategy on animal feedlot operations.

Taking advantage of the high profile of new state feedlot rules, a team of University of Minnesota Extension, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and USDA-NRCS staff, coordinated through the Water Resources Center, began a program of informing livestock producers and agricultural professionals about required and recommended manure management practices. A “train-the-trainer” model was followed, with regional sessions held for county staff of Extension, County Feedlot Officers, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts, followed by county meetings for producers organized by the county staff. In the first year, 338 county staff in six regional sessions, followed by over 4,000 producers in 53 county meetings, received a general overview of feedlot registration, permitting, and manure management practices found in the new rules. In the second year, education focused on practices for land application of manure, including rates, records, and management of manure near open water and other environmentally sensitive areas. In that phase, 222 county staff attended nine regional meetings and subsequently organized 44 county meetings attended by 1149 producers and others. In 2003, education was delivered to livestock producers in county meetings focused on reduction of runoff pollution from open feedlots. These “Open Lot Agreement” information meetings were held at 25 locations with a total attendance of 718 producers and others.

A unique feature of the project was a combination focus group and questionnaire evaluation approach employed in 2002. The objective was to identify farmers' educational and informational needs in the area of manure and nutrient management, and to determine past and intended future levels of adoption of a series of Best Management Practices. Some key findings from the focus group discussions and associated questionnaire included:

  • Producers spreading solid manure often do not follow recommended rates because of manure variability and limits to time and availability of scales for spreader calibration.
  • Suitable forms for field-by-field record keeping are needed.
  • More private sector agricultural professionals are needed to provide manure/nutrient management plans.
  • Most of the farmers either don't use or seldom use the World Wide Web to get information. They prefer publications and workshops.
  • Preferred topics for workshops and field days include: soil phosphorus levels and manure application rates in field selection; managing sensitive areas; and manure application technology.

When asked about intentions to adopt a group of ten manure management practices, producers who had attended the county information sessions expressed a higher intended adoption rate than those who had not attended (92 versus 84 percent), even though they had started at a lower level of pre-2000 adoption.

Publications: 

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2002. Applying manure in sensitive areas.
A twelve-page guide for livestock producers and agricultural professionals.

Randall, G., M. Schmitt, J. Strock, and J. Lamb. 2003. Validating N rates for corn on farm fields in southern Minnesota. University of Minnesota Extension bulletin BU-07936-S.

University of Minnesota Extension. 2004. Field record for Minnesota farms. A 110-page pocket record book for recording field operations.