Manure Management Project Book for Youth
Here's the Scoop
Animals at a farm operation are enclosed in pastures, meadows, barnyards, and barn areas. This leads to concentrated areas of manure where piles add up. Even when a just a few animals, or a single animal, are being raised for a couple months before summer fair season that manure can add up fast. Did you know that a single pig can produce 1 ton of manure in the five months it takes to grow to 250 pounds?
Manure makes great fertilizer, but it also can have a significant impact on our local waterways.
Manure can leach into our groundwater and run downhill in the rain and melting snow, ending up in our creeks and ponds. Manure can carry pathogens, like bacteria, into our drinking water and favorite fishing holes. It also adds nutrients to the water, that good stuff in our fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus.) That may not sound bad, but it is. When we have too much nutrient in the water, it causes algae to bloom. A thick coat of algae in the water not only looks bad, it also ends up depleting all of the oxygen dissolved in the water. That oxygen is critical for fish and other aquatic life to survive. Some major bodies of water across the country now have "deadzones" because the oxygen isn't there to support life.
Rules and Regulations in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, everyone who produces manure or applies manure to the land is required to have a written plan about how they are managing their manure. Many smaller farms, hobby farms, and youth raising project animals may not know about the impacts of manure and the type of plan they need to write. Penn State Extension has created a new resource to help. With the support of the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the contributions of partners at the Lancaster County Conservation District and Manheim Central Ag-Ed program, a new project book is available to help guide youth in manure management.
New Youth Project About Manure Management
"Manure Management Planning for Youth Animal Projects" is a curriculum full of hands-on activities, career exploration, and more. It includes chapters on manure composition, soil types, how plants utilize manure, manure impacts on water, mapping for planning, and the basics of a PA Manure Management Plan. We encourage all youth raising animals for 4-H and FFA/Ag-Ed programs to include this new project in their learning experiences. Teaching youth about manure management also makes a great topic for a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE.)