Manure Management

​Every farm in Pennsylvania that has animals and/or spreads manure, regardless of size or density is required at minimum to have and implement a written Manure Management Plan (MMP). A farmer can write their own Manure Management Plan using the forms and step-by-step instructions found in the Manure Management Manual and the Manure Management Webpage. Manure Management Plans don’t need to be submitted and approved, but a MMP needs to be kept on site.

A MMP Contains:

  • Environmentally sensitive areas as well as manure application setbacks to protect these areas,
  • Acceptable application rates for manure type, crop grown, field history, and the season applied,
  • A Farm Map representing the operation and identifying sensitive areas and manure application setbacks is needed,
  • Records or past manure application and crop yields.
A description of pasture management should also be included in am MMP. Pastures must be maintained in vegetation with an average height of 3” of forage. Overgrazed pastures not meeting the required vegetation height are considered Animal Concentration Areas.
Animal Concentration Areas or ACAs are outdoor animal confinement areas that will not maintain the dense vegetation of pasture. 
ACAS Must Be Managed By:
  • Diverting upslope water
  • Directing runoff into a storage or treating runoff through a vegetative filter
  • Controlling animal access to a stream by providing a stabilized crossing
  • Proper sizing and location to protect sensitive areas.
A MMP must list all manure storages, date of construction, dimension, estimated capacity, and any known problems. Liquid and semi-liquid storages must be checked for cracks, leaks, overflows and other issues that threaten the integrity of the storage; and verification of minimum freeboard is maintained. Liquid and semi-liquid storages should be checked on a monthly basis and written records kept as part of the MMP.
A Manure Management Plan should describe manure application setbacks.
Year Round Manure Application Setback Are:
  • 100’ setback from all wells,
  • 100’ setback from streams, lakes, ponds, and sinkholes.
  • 35’ setback with a permanent vegetative buffer.
  • 50’ with current soil test phosphorus level <200ppm when using no-till; a cover crop is required where residue is removed.
A Manure Management Plan also describes any winter application and identifies field locations. If the operator plans to apply manure in the winter, the Manure Management Plan needs to describe methods planned to reduce the likelihood of runoff and pollution.  


Winter is Defined as:
  • ​the period from December 15th - February 28th,
  • or when the ground is frozen more than 4 inches,
  • or when the ground is snow covered. 
Winter Setbacks:
  • ​100’ from all sensitive areas, PERIOD!
  • Includes 100’ setback from areas draining to above ground inlets (inlet pipes and piped terraces, etc.) 
Winter spreading is restricted to fields that have at least 25% residue or cover crop. Avoid spreading on steep slopes. USE COMMON SENSE!
Winter Speading Rates are Restricted to:
  • ​5,000 gallons/acre liquid manure
  • 20 tons/acre non-poultry solid manure
  • 3 tons/acre poultry manure
A Manure Management Plan should include a list and schedule of Best Management Practices, either physical or operational changes made to address any sources or potential sources of manure laden runoff.