How do farmers and ranchers keep animal waste from causing runoff into streams, lakes and other waterways?
Raising farm animals indoors, like many of today’s poultry, dairy cows and pig farms, means farmers and ranchers can capture and contain animal manure, much of which is repurposed as fertilizer for crops in a highly managed process.
Farmers who raise more than 1,000 animals in one area must carefully plan and design manure management systems to protect natural resources including water. Manure storage structures can be constructed from concrete, metal or earthen materials. If earthen structures are used, they are generally lined with compacted clay or synthetic materials to ensure protection of ground water. Management of waste is much stricter than most municipal wastewater policies for humans. By law, farmers cannot release any waste into the environment.
While the waste from farm animals raised outdoors goes directly into the soil, farmers and ranchers are equally as mindful of environmental impact. Farmers and ranchers fence off areas next to wetlands and water sources to reduce erosion and water contamination and they rotate livestock to new pastures.