Livestock farms in southern Minnesota respond to heavy rains causing manure storage overflows

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-979-1776

Recent heavy rains in southern Minnesota find some livestock producers scrambling to stem the overflow from livestock manure storage basins. Pollution problems include overflowing manure storage structures as well as open feedlots located in floodplains or in sensitive areas where runoff can enter surface waters.

If manure-storage facilities overflow, if manure enters surface waters, or if a storage structure is inundated by floodwaters, farmers must call the Minnesota Duty Officer immediately at 800-422-0789.

If manure-storage facilities are in danger of overflowing, farmers should contact the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) during regular business hours at 800-657-3864 or 651-296-6300 and ask for a feedlot staff person for assistance. Farmers in the 50 counties that include most of Minnesota’s livestock production can also contact a county feedlot staff person.

To reduce the likelihood of an overflow, feedlot operators are encouraged to divert water from manure-storage facilities and open feedlots if possible.  Manure stockpiles located in flood-prone areas should be removed immediately if not yet flooded.

While we can’t control weather, planning ahead can reduce the impact of bad weather on manure management and land application. A little more investment in storage, conservation practices, and planning can be a cost-effective form of insurance. It also reduces the risk of economic loss of nutrients from surface-applied manure.  Farmers with open feedlots should use a weekly scape-and-haul strategy that keeps their feedlots free of a manure pack.

For more information about flooding and the environmental problems it can create, visit the MPCA's Floods: Minimizing pollution and health risks webpage. The webpage includes a factsheet specifically for livestock producers titled Managing manure storage and land application during adverse weather conditions.