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Early morning on the farm.
photo: USDA/NRCS

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Four Way Farms: Manure Management Success in Wisconsin

September 2008

By moving cattle feedlots away from the water-quality impaired Kohlsville River tributary to the Rock River in Washington County, Wisconsin, county and state agencies were able to repair environmental damage and meet water quality standards in the stream without requiring a TMDL.

In 1998, the Kohlsville River, a tributary to the East Branch of the Rock River in Washington County, Wisconsin, was placed on the state's Clean Water Act Section 303(d) list of Impaired Waters due to sediment and nutrients in overland runoff. Diffuse sources of pollution were impairing the water's in-stream habitat. While these sources were known to be agricultural, the significant step of pinpointing and eliminating these pollutants was yet to come.

In 2002, Washington County staff identified a severe barnyard runoff problem near the river, which was experiencing algae blooms, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen problems. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) staff began monitoring the river. When county staff noticed significant compaction and trampling of stream bank along the river and its tributary, they began collecting continuous meter data from the stream, one below the barnyard and one above. The results illustrated that the barnyard runoff was indeed posing a water quality problem. The following year, in 2003, county staff applied for and received a Targeted Runoff Management (TRM) grant which funded work with landowners to put in place best management practices that resolved the severe algae problems encountered in the stream.

Stream recovery work involved relocating two separate animal feedlots that had direct discharges and unlimited livestock access to the stream. Both animal herds were relocated into one new free stall building along with the construction of a manure storage facility for these animals. The feedlots that the animals were moved from now contain a permanent deed restriction for livestock and the pasture area along the stream is also permanently protected to serve as riparian buffers.

Four Way Farms: Manure Management Success (PDF) (2pp, 178K)

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