Manure Spill Information

Agricultural Pollution

The Division of Soil and Water Conservation has the authority to establish standards for a level of management and conservation practices in farming and animal feeding operations. The purpose of these standards is to reduce pollution of waters of the state by soil sediment, animal manure and residual farm products. This authority is granted through Ohio Revised Code Chapter 939.

These regulations apply to all farming operations in Ohio, except those that are permitted through ODA’s Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting or the Ohio EPA.

Enforcement of these regulations is typically performed through a complaint process. If the Division of Soil and Water Conservation receives a complaint alleging that an agricultural operation is not in compliance with these standards, then the Division will investigate. If the Division of Soil and Water Conservation determines that the agricultural operation is in violation of the law, then the Division will seek to find a cooperative solution to return the operation to compliance. ODA may require corrective actions. If these corrective actions are not completed, ODA has the authority to issue a civil penalty of up to $10,000.

ODA has entered into agreements with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to implement these rules. These agreements give the SWCDs authority to investigate complaints, identify violations, and require corrective actions. SWCDs also assist ODA by providing landowners and farm operators' technical assistance, advice and expertise and informing them of the level of conservation necessary to comply with the rules and standards.

Please click Here for more details.

Manure Application

The Division of Soil and Water Conservation has the authority rules regarding the application of manure at farming and animal feeding operations. These regulations apply to all farming operations in Ohio, except those that are permitted through ODA’s Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting or the Ohio EPA.

ODA may assess a civil penalty of up to $10,000 for a violation of these restrictions.

For more information click Here .

A Manure Spill Exercise Field Day was on July 17, 2019 in Hancock County. Various staff from ODA , SWCD's, and landowners attended to see the specific steps needed to take in case of a manure spill.

The Blanchard River Demonstration Farms: Manure Spill Exercise Field Day @ the Stateler Demonstration Farm July 17, 2019


Always prepare for manure spills

Manure application involves controllable factors as well as uncontrollable or unforeseen factors. What this means is that somewhere, sometime, a manure spill or escape is going to happen.

I attended the Manure Science Review program that took place in Hardin County in July. Glen Arnold, OSU Extension field specialist in manure nutrient management systems, gave a presentation on Avoiding Manure Spills/Escapes.

While the goal is certainly to avoid manure spills, Glen pointed out with a series of photos, video clips and life stories that manure spills happen. The consequence of that spill/escape, the degree of negative impact it has, along with the financial cost, all depends upon farm preparedness for a manure spill/escape.

Locations of spills

During his presentation, Arnold said that manure spills/escapes occur at three different locations and/or phases of manure management. One area is on the farmstead itself, close to farm buildings and facilities.

Most of these manure incidents are actually escapes and are the result of manure pit overflows, manure pond overflows and/or lot runoffs. Manure spills can happen during the transport of manure. As farms and applicators strive to do a better job of matching up manure nutrients with fields needing those nutrients, manure is getting transported longer distances.

During transport, manure spills are the result of flipped manure tankers or semi-truck tankers, manure hose leaks, or improperly secured manure loads. The third area where manure spills/escapes happen is on the field, during or shortly after the manure application.

These spills are the result of surface runoff or rapid movement through the soil profile and into field tile. Identifying the where/when manure spills/escapes occur is useful especially when combined with an analysis of why manure spill/escapes happen.

Taken together they identify areas of risk that include both manageable factors as well as those factors outside of the farm’s or applicator’s control. For example, a manure escape happens because the manure storage structure overflows.

Weather events

Probably because weather events did not permit the hauling and application of manure and/or an unexpectedly large rain event pushed storage over the top. Weather is an uncontrollable event, yet farms need a plan to manage this possibility.

Is there a neighbor with extra lagoon space or a lagoon available on a former dairy facility that might be used in an emergency? Some other causes of manure spills are the result of equipment failures, traffic accidents, lack of monitoring, over application of manure, manure applied at the wrong time/improper conditions, and operator error.

With each of these causes, the farm manager needs to identify what can be done to minimize risk, including such things as periodic and regular equipment checks/maintenance, emergency shut-offs, employee/applicator training, work schedules that provide adequate rest, up to date manure management plans that guide application rates, weather monitoring and record keeping.

To this point, we have discussed planning and preparation to prevent manure spills and escapes. Despite planning, preparation and best intentions, some unforeseeable action or uncontrollable event will result in a spill or escape.

Emergency plan

Therefore, the farm needs an emergency plan. The plan should spell out what to do, who will do it, and who to contact in case of a manure spill/escape. Quick response can minimize detrimental effects; delays make a bad situation worse.

In his presentation, Arnold said your spill plan should contain cell phone numbers of key people who can help and you need to know who responds to text messages. You should know who has equipment to block a ditch or stream? Who has equipment to pump manure out of a stream or ditch?

Who has tile plugs? Who can transport the spilled product you are cleaning up? When manure gets into a stream be prepared to pump 20 to 25 times the volume of the manure that entered the stream according to Arnold. Where will this pumped product go?

How will you get oxygen back into the stream and who has that equipment?

Spill kit

As part of their preparedness, some farms keep a manure spill kit available.

A list of some materials and resources to include in a manure spill kit is available at

According to a Purdue and Michigan State University publication entitled Emergency Action Planning for Livestock Operations, the four C’s of a manure spill/escape response plan are:

  1. Control the source of the spill/escape.
  2. Contain the spill.
  3. Clean up the spill, which involves assessing the extent of the damage and restoring the affected area.
  4. Comply with reporting requirements.

That publication, along with other manure spill response resources is available online at

Rory Lewandowski is an Ohio State University Extension educator at Wayne County Extension.

What is LEAP?

LEAP is a voluntary environmental assurance program for all major livestock species in Ohio, including sheep, beef and dairy cattle, swine and poultry.

As Ohio livestock farmers, taking care of our land, air and water resources is a top priority. We design and follow management plans describing how much manure our farm will produce and how our farm will use or distribute it. We implement pest control measures to minimize insects and rodents. And, we follow best management practices for disposing of deceased animals.

The Ohio Livestock Environmental Assurance Program (LEAP) is a voluntary program to help Ohio’s livestock farms take a proactive approach in protecting the land, air and water on and around our farms. LEAP helps farmers identify and address key management issues affecting environmental quality by providing helpful tools and resources – from regulations and current legislation to specific best management practices and assessments and evaluation tools.

To see their full website please click here.