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50 Ways Farmers Can Protect Their Groundwater
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46. Store Livestock Waste Properly


It's not a pleasant statistic: A 100-cow dairy herd can produce as much waste as 2,400 people. But that's not the only unpleasant fact: In certain types of soil, this waste can seep through the ground and reach groundwater, contaminating it with nitrate and bacteria.

If you store animal waste on the feedlot, locate the lot far away and downhill from any wells, sinkholes, or surface water. Make provisions to collect runoff water from the feedlot for proper disposal and remove new waste deposits every few days.

contaminated pond Just as with a feedlot, waste storage structures should not be located near surface water or wells. Also, take special precautions when storing waste in earthen structures to prevent wastes from seeping through the bottom of the basin to groundwater.
plastic lining When the bottom of the structure is something other than clay—sandy soil, gravelly soil, or fractured rock, for instance—you must seal it. Sealing can be done with compacted clay, plastic lining, or any other material that keeps water from seeping through the ground
soil borings For lagoons, Illinois requires that soil borings be made to determine the composition of the soil and evaluate the risk of seepage. The state also requires that the lagoon design be approved by a licensed professional engineer.
vegetative filter If your operation is smaller than 300 animal units, another option in Illinois is to use a vegetative filter to handle runoff water from livestock operations. However, the vegetative filter must be preceded by a settling basin.
stack manure solids on a concrete pad To prevent leaching to groundwater with solid-manure storage, stack manure solids on a concrete pad. In addition, cover the storage area with a roof to prevent rain and snow from causing the manure to run off.

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