Farm Horizons, February 2014

Program available for manure storage basin closing

By Lori Brinkman
Assistant Carver County Feedlot Administrator

Every Saturday morning, when I was a kid, my mom would head to Glencoe with her shopping list that was organized by store – Ben Franklin, Snyder Drug, Lee’s SuperValu, and Red Owl.

She shopped weekly ads and gladly went to each store to find the best deal. It seems strange in this day-and-age of the one-stop shop. Times certainly have changed.

Our route to Glencoe included driving past the farm of my dad’s cousin. We knew them well, because we worked with them during harvest.

I have many memories of their family and farm. One thing I remember vividly is when they put up a new silo, and my dad pointing out the words they had inscribed on top – God Is Above All, and Pit Stop Dairy.

The silo, like many silos in the area, is a bit of a monument among monuments. I don’t know if it is still used to store feed. If not, I guess it still serves a purpose if you’re willing to look up and read it as you’re driving by. Just be careful, I don’t think there is a four-way stop at that intersection anymore.

So, in that little corner of McLeod County, the intersection is no longer a four-way stop; the dairy is no longer managed as a dairy; and after talking to a member of the family, it sounds like the manure pit is not currently used as a manure pit, although it has the potential.

It’s no secret that farming has changed. Many owners choose to keep farm infrastructures in place in case the next generation chooses to farm, but if there is no one interested, it may be sold to someone with completely different ideas.

There are uses for smaller barns and buildings, but there are few uses for an unused manure storage basin.

Unfortunately, it can be a safety hazard for people and livestock if it does not have a perimeter fence, and depending on its construction and management, could be a hazard to surface and ground water resources.

If you have ever considered closing an unused basin on your property, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has a manure storage basin closure program.

For earthen structures, the plan typically involves removing any manure that is left in the pit and any contaminated soil. Any old transfer pipes are removed or flushed, and sealed at both ends. The pit is then filled in and sloped to drain naturally. The site can be returned to crop production or seeded to perennial vegetation for pasture or other uses.

The program has been in place for a number of years, but recent changes have been made which offer a flat rate for basin closure rather than a percentage of the project cost. This may make it more accessible to certain individuals, as it has the potential to pay for 100 percent of the project.

For more information, landowners are encouraged to contact the local NRCS field office or visit the MN NRCS website at www.mn.nrcs.usda.gov. In Carver County, contact the NRCS in Waconia at (952) 442-2106.

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