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PA Manure Application Setbacks

April 14, 2015

All agricultural operations in Pennsylvania that land apply manure need to have a Manure Management Plan (MMP) and follow setbacks established by the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law. These are the minimum setback requirements. Any operation considered a Concentrated Animal Operation (CAO) must have an ACT 38 Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) and follow specific ACT 38 setbacks.

The following setback requirements are for MMPs. A 100ft setback is mandatory for all manure application near an existing open sinkhole, private drinking well or spring, and public water well. When applying manure near surface waters like a stream, lake, or pond a 100ft setback is required. If a 35ft permanent vegetative buffer is established, manure can be land applied up to the buffer. A 50ft setback is allowed if current soil tests show less than 200ppm phosphorous, no-till practices are used, and a cover crop is planted when residue is removed. Winter application of manure can occur if there is a 100ft setback from streams, lakes, ponds, existing open sinkholes, private drinking wells and springs, public water wells, and above ground inlets to agricultural drainage systems. Plus no application on slopes greater than 15% and there must be a minimum of 25% ground cover from cover crops or crop residue.

When following an ACT 38 NMP slightly different manure application setbacks are required. A 100ft setback is mandatory for all manure application near an existing open sinkhole, private drinking well or spring, and public water well. However, if a 35ft permanent vegetative buffer is established around an existing open sinkhole, manure can be land applied up to the buffer. When applying manure near surface waters like a stream, lake, or pond a 100ft setback is required. If a 35ft permanent vegetative buffer is established, manure can be land applied up to the buffer. Fall application of manure must follow all surface and ground water setbacks plus there must be a minimum of 25% ground cover from a cover crop or crop residue or manure must be injected or incorporated with 5 days with minimum soil disturbance. Winter application of manure can occur if there is a 100ft setback from streams, lakes, ponds, existing open sinkholes, private drinking wells and springs, public water wells, and above ground inlets to agricultural drainage systems. An additional 100ft setback is required from all wetlands identified on the National Wetlands Inventory, if that wetland is within a 100 year floodplain of an Exceptional Value stream and surface flow is toward the wetland. There must also be a minimum of 25% ground cover from cover crops or crop residue.

Anyone that works at your local Conservation District or NRCS can help you determine the necessary manure setbacks on your operation. In addition you can visit https://www.paonestop.org/ to create your own operation maps showing the location of necessary manure setbacks.

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