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Manure and Agricultural Waste Management

Dairy Waste Management

There are two types of lagoons. One is the anaerobic lagoon and the other is the aerobic lagoon. Anaerobic lagoons are earthen containers sized to provide biological treatment and long-term animal waste storage. They are larger than manure storage basins, which do not provide significant biological treatment or long storage periods. On the other hand, anaerobic lagoons are smaller than aerobic lagoons, which are designed to provide a higher degree of treatment with less odor production. Most dairy lagoons are anaerobic. The advantages of anaerobic lagoon systems are:

  • manure can be handled hydraulically with water flushing systems, sewer lines, pumps and irrigation equipment
  • high nitrogen reduction minimizes the land area required for liquid effluent disposal
  • high degree of stabilization reduces odors during land application
  • long-term storage at low cost

Compost is the product of the controlled biological decomposition of organic materials. Composting typically reduces manure volume by 30 to 50 percent, which makes the material significantly more affordable to transport and provides many other benefits. Composting is a microbial-driven process. Composting could occur in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions. However, aerobic composting is preferred. If provided a suitable environment, the microbes will do the composting work. The most important factors for successful composting are the nitrogen to carbon ratios (the ideal C: N ratio is generally considered to be around 30:1), moisture contents within compost piles (between 50-60 percent), temperatures (105-160 degrees Fahrenheit), oxygen contents within compost piles (more than 10 percent is better) and pH levels (5.5-8).

Stockpiling is one way of storing solid manure until it can be applied to cropland as fertilizer. The first and most important thing is that stockpiling must follow federal, state and local rules pertaining to manure stockpiling. Two types of stockpiling: short-term (less than one year) stockpiles and permanent stockpiles. General rules for stockpiles state that “they must be located and constructed such that manure-contaminated run-off from the site does not discharge into the waters of the state." As mentioned before, the stockpile must also contain at least 15 percent solids. This eliminates the possibility of stockpiling true liquid manure.


University of Idaho Extension

Phone: 208-934-4417, (c) 208-539-2582