Extension Ag Update
May/June 2007
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Illinois Manure Management Plan

Leanne C. Lucas, University of Illinois, College of ACES, 62 Mumford Hall, MC 710, 1301 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL  61801, (217) 244-9085, llucas@uiuc.edu,

Developing a comprehensive manure management plan just got easier for livestock producers in Illinois. The Illinois Manure Management Plan is now available online at www.immp.uiuc.edu
          
The online manure management resource was developed by the University of Illinois Extension with financial support from various Illinois livestock groups including the Illinois Pork Producers Association & the Pork Checkoff, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, IL Livestock Development Group, Illinois Farm Bureau, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
          
“Using swine manure as a natural fertilizer in crop production saves billions of cubic feet of natural gas which would otherwise be used to manufacture commercial fertilizers," said Brian Sturtevant, a pork producer and current President of the IL Pork Producers Association. “This web-based tool will help producers better manage this valuable resource, while continuing to be a good steward of our environment.”   
          
Extension specialists at the University of Illinois who developed the original workbook are certain the web version of the IMMP will allow producers of large and small facilities to spend more time managing their animals, and less time worrying about manure.         

"This is a great application that takes you by the hand and leads you through the process, step by step," said Ted Funk, an agricultural engineer at the U of I, and one of the Extension specialists who developed the plan. “It uses an interview-type format that prompts you for data, which you enter only once. That information is automatically pulled from the database whenever it’s needed in a form or report.”
          
“Most of the larger facilities are required by law to have a written plan, whether they are trying to comply with the Livestock Management Facility Act, or they have to have an NPDES permit,” said Randy Fonner, Extension specialist and co-author of the IMMP. “And producers who apply for EQIP funds have to have a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan to access those funds.” Fonner continued, “This program will help you develop one manure management plan that makes sure you’re in compliance with any or all of those regulations.”
          
Funk believes the convenience of developing a plan online will also appeal to many producers.  “Some farmers use a consultant to help develop their plans, but there are a limited number of qualified consultants,” Funk said. “If a producer can do a lot of the work himself, the consultant can be 500 miles away, but he can log onto the website and check the information. Then he can make a phone call or send an email that says ‘This doesn’t look right, check your numbers,’ or whatever. The whole process will be much easier and more efficient.”
          
Some features of the web-based plan include:

  • Calculation tools to match manure application rates with crop needs and soil tests
  • Mapping tools to draw the farmstead with its features, including buildings and storages
  • Help with annual plan updates
  • Recordkeeping and report forms
  • A user-defined calendar that will send automatic email reminders for inspections and records
  • Individual plans are password-protected and reside on a U of I server for reliable storage and instant retrieval on any computer with web access.

In order to have a viable, environmentally friendly livestock industry in the state, Fonner said, “It’s becoming more and more important for producers, regardless of their size, to have a plan. The very basics that any of the state agencies want to know is, ‘How much manure are you producing and what are you going to do with it?’ We feel that the more the producer is involved in writing a plan that answers those questions, the more likely it is that he’ll use it.”

“So is it a piece of cake?” Funk concluded. “Well, no. It takes some work. But this program pulls together all the resources you need, and in the end, it saves you money and reduces environmental risk."