Waste management systems design

An agricultural waste management system design will:

• Describe the management, operation, and maintenance of the waste from production to utilization

• List the practices to be installed

• Locate the major components on a plan map

• Include an installation schedule

Agricultural waste management systems are highly varied, and many alternatives are available. The various processes mentioned above are usually interdependent. For example, if a landowner wants to store waste as a dry material, the waste cannot be collected using a flush system. If limited land is available for utilization, the landowner may need to select a treatment process that reduces the nitrogen content of the waste.

Because of the variety of situations into which an AWMS must be incorporated, no one procedure can be followed to arrive at a system design; however, the following guidelines may be helpful.

Determine decisionmaker's concerns and needs.

Landowner objectives along with social concerns must guide the planning of the AWMS.

Determine the characteristics and annual production of the waste requiring management. The waste characteristics and amount could limit alternatives and influence management decisions. Future changes in operation size and management must also be considered.

Determine the alternatives the decisionmaker is willing to consider for utilization. This helps the planner know what to work toward. Some alternatives may have specific limitations or requirements for the characteristics of the waste, and the system must be designed to deliver waste with those characteristics. If the utilization alternative involved land application, a quick check needs to be made to determine if sufficient land is available and when the spreading operations can take place. This helps determine whether treatment will be necessary and what the storage period should be.

Determine the landowners preferences for equipment and location of facilities. The landowner may desire specific features in the system or may have specific equipment available. These features and site characteristics detailed in chapter 2 should be identified and discussed with the landowner so that their impact on the total agricultural enterprise and their effect on onsite and offsite natural resources are fully understood. Existing equipment and the opinions of the decisionmaker should not limit the discussion and consideration of other alternatives.

Design the system beginning with production and ending with utilization. At this point the entire system begins to take shape. The management requirements and safety concerns should be fully addressed and understood. The previous decisions may need to be adjusted or refined.

A good way to document the decisions of the landowner is to list the major processes in the order in which they occur in the system and then record under each heading the pertinent information associated with that process.

The nitrogen and phosphorus content of the waste, including heavy metals, toxins, pathogens, oxygen demanding material, or total solids, must be known. Knowing what is produced, how much is produced, when it is produced, and where it is produced helps the planner understand the existing agricultural enterprise into which the waste management system must be integrated.

Figure 9-3 Waste handling options—dairy



Milking center

Solid floor barn (freestall)






Solid floor barn (freestall)


* Liquids from lot runoff discharged to waste storage pond only

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