Navigating Manure Storage: What Producers Need to Know

When it comes to responsible farming practices, manure management is a critical aspect that farmers in Alberta, need to be well versed in.  Proper manure storage is not only essential for efficient agricultural operations but also for safeguarding the environment and nearby communities. 

Before setting up manure storage facilities, it’s important to determine whether you need permits or approval from relevant regulatory authorities. The permitting process ensures that your manure management practices align with environmental protection standards. 

Manure storage is one step in the manure management cycle. The design and construction of manure storage facilities play a vital role in preventing leaks and contamination of soil and water.  Alberta’s regulations often outline specifications for factors such as size, location, lining, and structural integrity.  These guidelines ensure that your storages are built to last and minimize the risk of environmental harm. 

Maintaining appropriate distances between manure storage facilities and sensitive areas is crucial.  Alberta’s regulations require minimum setback distances from water bodies, riparian areas, wells, residences, and public spaces.  These setbacks are designed to prevent potential contamination and address odor concerns, fostering harmony between farming activities and neighbouring operations.

Effective management of leachate (liquid draining from stored manure) and runoff is paramount.  Regulations often demand systems that prevent these substances from entering water bodies or causing pollution.  By implementing proper management strategies, you contribute to maintaining the integrity of Alberta’s water resources. 

Preparedness is key in farming. Having plans in place to manage overflow or emergencies that could lead to manure spills or leaks is a regulatory requirement.  These plans detail steps to mitigate incidents and provide a clear framework for reporting.  By being proactive, you demonstrate your commitment to responsible farming practices. 

Regulations often stipulate the importance of maintaining detailed records related to manure management activities, including storage, application, and disposal.  By keeping accurate records and adhering to reporting requirements, you contribute to transparent practices that support regulatory compliance. 

For larger operations, an environmental impact assessment might be necessary to evaluate potential effects on the surrounding environment.  These assessments provide insights into the potential impacts of the manure storage and help tailor management strategies accordingly. 

Navigating manure storage regulations in Alberta requires a commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture.  By staying informed about these regulations and following them diligently, you contribute to the well-being of your farm, your community, and the province.  To ensure you have the most current and accurate information, regularly consult Alberta’s government websites and relevant regulatory bodies. 

The Alberta Environmental Farm Plan works with producers to create an action plan for their operation based on their on-farm management practices.  The EFP considers setback requirements, AOPA regulations, NRCB requirements within the question relating to manure management and on farm utilization.  The EFP can help producers determine priority areas for improvement of their operation’s manure storage. 


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