Every farm in Pennsylvania that land-applies manure or agricultural process wastewater (generated on the farm or received from an importer) is required to develop and implement a written Manure Management Plan regardless of farm size. This includes farms where manure and agricultural process wastewater are applied by equipment and/or through direct application by livestock in pastures and Animal Concentration Areas (ACAs). In other words, farms that do not mechanically apply manure but which do have pastures or barnyards still need a Manure Management Plan.
A copy of Pennsylvania’s Manure Management Manual can be found on Penn State Extension’s PA Nutrient Management Program website, along with flowcharts and other tools to determine what type of plan your farm will require.
Pennsylvania’s Nutrient Management Act (2005) requires farms with high animal densities called Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) to develop and implement an Act 38 Nutrient Management Plan. CAOs are defined as an agricultural operation where the animal density of all livestock on the farm exceeds 2 animal equivalent units (AEUs) per acre on an annualized basis. Act 38 was revised in 2004 to include horses in this calculation. Any operation with fewer than 8 AEUs is not considered a CAO regardless of the animal type or density.
PA DEP provides a helpful AEU calculator excel spreadsheet that is available for public use.
Nutrient Management Plans must be written by a certified, trained specialist. Act 38 plans balance manure application rates to match crop needs, evaluates manure storage, phosphorus runoff potential, animal concentration areas (ACAs), and accelerated erosion.
Farms under the regulated animal density are still encouraged to get a Nutrient Management Plan, and in fact, about 90% of Pennsylvania’s Act 38 plans are volunteers. By analyzing storage and usage of on-farm nutrients, Act 38 participants can take measures to improve water and soil quality as well as improve crop production, decrease fertilizer costs, and secure some liability protection against civil penalties and actions.
Penn State Extension’s PA Nutrient Management Program website is a comprehensive resource for educational materials and technical guidance related to Act 38.