Tips to Keep Manure Pits from Overflowing

Farmers who raise and produce livestock, such as pigs or dairy, often have ponds where the waste of their animals is stored until it can be applied to fields, adding nutrients that encourage the growth of crops. These ponds, so-called “manure pits” have been filling up faster in recent years because of the increase in rainfall in Ohio and across the country. The pits receive not only manure but also rainwater and rainwater runoff. When they get full, farmers have to find opportunities to apply the manure when the ground is not saturated and the soil can absorb moisture and nutrients.

To keep manure pits from overflowing:

  1. Contact neighbors and look for available manure storage areas. Many dairy farmers have exited the industry in recent years and their manure storage facilities could be available. Older swine facilities could also have a manure pit or manure pond storage available.
  2. Some locations have built satellite ponds in recent years for the purpose of receiving manure during times like this. Check with anyone who might have a satellite pond.
  3. Expand your existing manure storage capacity. Hire a contractor to build another storage pond.
  4. Look at the weather forecast. April will bring warmer weather in the coming weeks. Consider manure application to pasture fields, wheat fields, fields with cover crops, and hay fields.
  5. When corn is planted, consider an application to newly planted or emerged corn up to the V4 stage of growth using a drag hose system. Newly planted soybean fields can also receive manure immediately after planting. For drag hose systems to work properly, fields need to be firm so loose soil is not scoured onto piles ahead of the hose. For videos illustrating side-dressing of corn, visit OSU Nutrient Stewardship on YouTube.