Short-Term Manure Storage

Meeting regulations a starting point

The safe storage of manure is a relatively simple challenge from an environmental perspective. In Alberta, manure storage is regulated through the Agricultural Operations Practices Act (AOPA), which sets out minimum setback distances of manure storage facilities from water bodies and certain buildings.

There are instances, such as when manure is being stored in preparation for the spreading process, that producers use a spot in a field as short-term solid manure storage. Also, this practice allows the manure to be applied with field equipment rather than road equipment, resulting in less soil compaction in the fields. These sites are subject to AOPA regulations.

Definition of temporary storage

According to the AOPA, a short-term, or temporary, solid manure storage site is defined as one in which manure is stored an accumulated total of seven months over a period of three years. This limitation is put in place to allow vegetation to use any nutrients that may have leached into the upper soil horizon. If a site stores solid manure more than seven months within three years, the manure needs to be moved to a new spot on the field.

Regulations and best practices

Under the AOPA, short-term solid manure storage sites must be located more than 150 metres (492 ft.) from any residence not owned by the person storing the manure, at least 100 metres (328 ft.) from a spring or a well, and at least 30 metres (98 ft.) from the nearest common body of water – when drainage is towards the common body of water, and the mean slope of the land measured over 90 metres is less than 4 percent.

The following table shows the required distances based on the mean slope of the land towards the common body of water over 90 metres.

Mean slope of land towards a common body of water (measured over 90 metres from the edge of the common body of water) Required distance between temporary solid manure storage site and common body of water
4% or less 30 metres
> 4% but < 6% 60 metres
> 6% but < 12% 90 metres
12% or greater Do not store solid manure on any land with a mean slope of 12% or greater that slopes towards a common body of water

Manure piles should not be located within flooded areas and must be located one metre or more above the flood level. They also should not be located on boggy ground (a water table within one metre of the surface).

When it comes to an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), the goal is to meet or exceed these regulations. One Beneficial Management Practice (BMP) is to use short-term solid manure storage sites during the winter, with manure spread prior to the growing season.

Available Assistance
Information and technical assistance on manure storage is available through a network of EFP Technicians throughout the province.

This article may be reprinted with the credit: Alberta Environmental Farm Plan
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