New Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulations are in effect for both obtaining construction permits and commercial fertilizer recordkeeping for producers with manure management plans.

A top priority of the Iowa Pork Producers Association is keeping pork producers informed about state environmental rules and regulations. In addition to providing magazine articles such as the one provided here, the IPPA also hosts regional meetings and ICN programs and distributes electronic updates on important changes, critical dates and new regulations that affect Iowa’s pork producers.

IPPA recently hosted regional environmental update meetings in five locations in late August. In addition to the information from Eldon McAfee presented in this article, producers attending the meetings also heard from Dr. Robert Burns, ISU Agricultural Biosystems Engineering and Dennis Pate, Director of Planning with Validus.

Producers with manure management plans are required to keep records of manure application such as the method (injection, incorporation, etc.), date(s), field location, number of acres, and application rate for the manure applied. However, additional new recordkeeping requirements are now in effect.

First, DNR rules require that if manure is applied to fields not owned, rented or leased for crop production by the livestock producer with the manure management plan, the livestock producer must obtain from the crop farmer “a statement specifying the planned commercial nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer rates to be applied to each field receiving the manure.” A few key points about this requirement:
  • DNR has indicated that the livestock producer must have this statement at the time manure is applied so that manure application rates may be accurately determined.
  • The rules require that there be a statement for each field where manure is applied. Accordingly, a statement is not required for fields in a manure management plan where manure will not be applied for the next crop year.
  • The statement must be obtained from whoever farms the land. If the land is farmed by a tenant, the tenant may provide the statement.
  • The statement must be obtained even if the crop farmer does not plan to apply any additional nitrogen or phosphorus fertilizer.

DNR has developed a form which is posted on the DNR website at However, the rules do not require producers to use the DNR form. Producers may use a different format so long as the statement meets the rules requirement of “specifying the planned commercial nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer rates to be applied to each field receiving the manure.”

Second, this DNR rule also requires that manure management plan records include the date and application rate of commercial nitrogen and phosphorus on fields that received manure. This requirement applies to land farmed by the livestock producer and also applies to commercial fertilizer applications on land farmed by someone else under a manure application agreement.

The rules provide some protection to livestock producers with manure management plans from enforcement actions by DNR for fertilizer applications by someone else that result in violation of the limits on nitrogen and phosphorus levels in a manure management plan. The rules state that in this situation DNR cannot bring an enforcement action for noncompliance with a manure management plan or the recordkeeping requirements unless the livestock producer “knew or should have known” that application of commercial nitrogen or phosphorus would result in exceeding limits established in the manure management plan.

As part of their overall manure management program, livestock producers should review their manure agreements with landowners. To ensure compliance with DNR rules and proper application of manure and other soil nutrients, the agreements should clearly state that the crop producer will comply with the nitrogen and phosphorus limits in the manure management plan and that the crop producer will provide the dates and application rates of commercial nitrogen and phosphorus to the livestock producer.

Producers should also note that DNR rules continue to allow applications of nitrogen in addition to amounts allowed in a manure management plan if the additional applications are recommended by soil or crop nitrogen test for optimum crop yields.

The new DNR rule implements 2002 legislation that requires a construction permit for physical construction or modification of a confinement building or a concrete or other formed manure storage structure if the animal unit capacity of the operation (including all confinement buildings at the site) will be more than 1,000 animal units (2,500 head of hogs weighing more than 55 pounds or 10,000 head of pigs weighing between 15 and 55 pounds).

In addition, a construction permit is required for a change (even if no construction or physical alteration is necessary) that increases the volume of manure or a modification in the manner of manure storage in a formed manure storage structure if the animal unit capacity of the operation (including all confinement buildings at the site) is or will be more than 1,000 animal units.

It is important to note that if an operation was built when the construction permit threshold was 625,000 pounds of animal weight capacity and that operation has between 2,500 and approximately 4,100 head, that operation will need a construction permit if it now increases the volume of manure without physical construction or alteration. Increases in manure volume without physical construction because of an increase in animal capacity, animal weight capacity or animal unit capacity do not require a construction permit if the increases are within the capacities in an existing construction permit.
It is also important to note that if DNR determines that an increase in manure volume is “insignificant”, a construction permit is not needed. To make that determination, plans for repairs or modifications must be submitted to DNR. The DNR has indicated that in most cases, double stocking weaned pigs at a wean-to-finish site will be considered an insignificant increase in manure volume and a construction permit will not be required.

Because of the seemingly never-ending increase in environmental regulation, producers may want to consider conducting an environmental self-audit of their operations. Environmental self-audits are environmental reviews to determine compliance with sound environmental practices and current environmental regulation.

Iowa’s environmental audit law was enacted in 1998 to encourage environmental responsibility by offering legal protections to any business which conducts a voluntary self-audit and takes appropriate corrective action. A livestock operation is a business which can qualify for the benefits of this law. In addition to assuring that an operation is not negatively affecting the environment and neighbors, conducting an environmental audit provides immunity from DNR penalties for a violation if the producer promptly and voluntarily discloses to DNR, before DNR begins an investigation, that an environmental violation was discovered in the audit. In most cases, immunity for an environmental violation includes immunity from penalties for late-filed manure management plans. See for more information on environmental self-audits.

The number of nuisance lawsuits filed in Iowa against swine operations has declined from a high of 13 in 2003 to two last year and two so far this year. There are a number of steps producers can take to minimize the impact of their livestock operation on neighbors and help avoid a nuisance lawsuit.


  • Dr. Robert Burns discussed nutrient management planning, the Iowa Phosphorus Risk Index and where to start in the nutrient management planning process.
  • Dennis Pate covered the requirements needed for livestock producers to obtain financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). He also discussed requirements for receiving payments under the Conservation Security Program (CSP), emphasizing planning and recordkeeping in order to qualify for payments under these programs.
  • All speaker presentations are available for download on the Resources and Information page of, or by calling (800) 372-7675.