Improving Manure Management to Protect Water Quality in the Southwestern U. S.

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1996: $60,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1999
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $106,019.00
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jessica Davis
Colorado State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, millet, potatoes, rye, sunflower, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, sheep, swine
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: manure management, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, application rate management, tissue analysis, terraces
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, extension, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: grass waterways, riverbank protection, wetlands
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships


    The purpose of this project was to improve the use of manure as a fertilizer that is applied at agronomically and economically sound rates and to reduce fertilizer applications accordingly, so that water quality is protected. We held nine workshops to train farmers and Extension and NRCS personnel in nutrient management planning using a case study approach. Over 400 participants attended the workshops. The makeup of the participants was 14% farmers, 42% NRCS, 20% extension, and 24% other.

    We wrote an extension bulletin meant for the western dairy farmers. Our bulletin, Manure Best Management Practices: A Practical Guide for Dairies in Colorado, Utah. and New Mexico is available on the internet at the following address:
    We printed copies of this bulletin and distributed them to dairies and extension and NRCS personnel throughout our three states.

    Lastly, we demonstrated manure management Best Management Practices including calibration of manure spreaders, basing manure application rates on soil sampling, and use of polyacrylamides to reduce nutrient runoff from manured fields. Extension and NRCS staff in CO, NM, and UT are now better prepared to help farmers protect water quality.

    Project objectives:

    1) To demonstrate and encourage the use of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for poultry, lagoon, and feedlot operations within the animal production units and in crop production systems in the field.

    2) To educate NRCS and Cooperative Extension personnel in methods of livestock waste utilization within the frame work of western U.S. agriculture.

    3) To revise and update NRCS guidelines for livestock waste management to address specific concerns for western U.S. climates, soils, and cropping systems.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.