OCAMM Seminar Series
Regulatory Issues


Click on title to view summary.  Presentation date in parenthesis.

Implication of manure handling regulations on current livestock production and expansion in Ohio
Kevin Elder, ODNR; John Kessler, OEPA; Mike Monnin, USDA-NRCS (2000)
Permits to Install: Ohio CAFO's respond
Jon Rausch, Ohio State University (2000)
OEPA water quality sampling associated with AFO's: Issues and case studies
Rick Wilson, Ohio EPA (2001)
Perceived risks of dioxins: Are proposed EPA sewage sludge regulations protecting agriculture?
Dr. Lynn Willett, Ohio State University (2001)
Review of Senate Bill 141 Rules
Kevin Elder, Ohio Department of Agriculture (2002)
Agriculture and carbon sequestration
Dr. Rattan Lal, Ohio State University (2003)
Navigating the CNMP process
Mark Wilson, Land Stewards (2005)
Powderlick Run: A model for meeting Ohio's water quality goals
Andy Rogowski, Ohio Department of Agriculture (2006)


Implication of manure handling regulations on current livestock production and expansion in Ohio
Kevin Elder, ODNR; John Kessler, OEPA; Mike Monnin, NRCS

Kevin Elder provided an overview of the role of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) in monitoring farms with fewer than 1,000 animal units (AU).  Under the guidance of the Agricultural Pollution Abatement Rules and Standards, the ODNR regulates overflow discharge from animal manure storage and treatment facilities.  Areas of concern include seepage of wastes from holding facilities, rainwater runoff from feedlots and waste management facilities, waste waters such as milkhouse or silage drainage, and land application of manure.  Under the ODNR, the Division of Wildlife can enforce compliance and issue fines for stream litter and fish kills.  Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) personnel work with landowners on a voluntary basis but have enforcement powers if water quality is impacted.

John Kessler described the role of the Agricultural Group which operates under the Division of Surface Water of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (OEPA).  This group is responsible for approving the Permit-to-Install (PTI) and monitoring farms with more than 1,000 AU.   During the approval process for a PTI, the Agricultural Group reviews technical aspects of the application, visits the site and holds public information sessions and public hearings as needed.  The PTI covers installment of waste treatment or holding systems, storm water control, and special conditions such as spill reporting.  In addition to the PTI, the operator must have and comply with a manure management plan.  OEPA monitoring duties include compliance inspection, complaint response, enforcement and stream monitoring.  Currently, OEPA receives about 25 PTI applications each year.

Mike Monnin presented the role of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in manure management.  The NRCS develops technical standards and provides planning and construction assistance to livestock operators through individual consultations as well as education programs.  Under the Clean Water Initiative, the NRCS is developing technical guidance for Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) and expects to work with up to 1,400 farms per year to develop plans by 2009.  A CNMP addresses nutrient management, realistic crop yields, land management and conservation planning, alternative manure utilization, feed alterations and techniques for manure storage and treatment. The NRCS is also revising technical standards for waste utilization, waste storage, lagoons and other technologies.  Once the guidance and standards are completed, NRCS, SWCD and third party personnel will be trained to write CNMPs. 

Harold Keener (OSU) questioned the status of the controversy between the U.S. EPA and OEPA.  Kessler explained that a National Permit Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is required for direct discharge of waste from a system.  OEPA interprets two exceptions :  1) system discharge that occurs only during a 25-year, or larger, storm and 2)  fields used for agriculture.  The U.S. EPA wants to require an NPDES permit for Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), defined as 1,000+ AUs, with a history of discharge.  Since OEPA is reluctant to follow up on this request, $200,000 in grants have been withheld.

Larry Smith (OSU) questioned the accuracy of a Kansas study that concluded earthen manure storage lagoons leak at a rate of 1/20 of an inch per day.  Elder noted that design parameters require that these lagoons have a liner with a permeability equal to 0.0000010 inch per 100 years.  While the liner may be compacted clay or a synthetic material, the key to maintaining low permeability is in the construction.  There is some concern in western Ohio where fractures in the glacial till may increase the flow rate.

Kessler noted that a site-specific geologic survey of an area is important in determining local permeability.

Monnin commented that the soil identified during a geologic survey determines the required compaction rate.  The flow rate in the Kansas study implies a sandy soil.  The glacial tills of Ohio usually have a high clay content so do not have that problem.

John Smith (OSU) asked why farmers that have a spill that results in a fish kill are fined while cities that dump wastewater into streams are not.  Kessler responded that there are two standards.  Cities must meet discharge limits under a NPDES prior to release.  He also noted that the ratio of fines requested is usually higher than what is received.

Elder commented that the Division of Wildlife has cited municipalities for discharge infringement.  Also, while agriculture is currently receiving the most press, the biggest hole in the system is septic systems.

A participant in Lima questioned the status of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) legislation and its expected effect on CAFOs.  Elder responded that the TMDL legislation is a work in progress which addresses impaired streams.  Allocations for loading of the pollutant that caused the impairment will be made.  Currently, the use of TMDLs to regulate non-point source pollutants from land application of manure and fertilizers is in question.

Ted Short (OSU) questioned the discrepancy between the use of the phosphorus standard by
NRCS and the nitrogen standard by OEPA in evaluating  nutrient balance.    Monnin explained that the NRCS uses the limiting nutrient which could be nitrogen.  In revising current standards, the question is “What is the maximum phosphorus level for the soil?”

Elder noted that Bulletin 604 which is used by the NRCS and SWCD to evaluate nutrient balance also considers water holding capacity and permeability.  The overall goal is sound nutrient cycling.  Also, the nitrogen standard is in place to protect human health.

Short asked if an operator received a PTI that met the nitrogen standard but was later found to have excess phosphorus levels, would it be recognized and would changes to the original nutrient management plan be required.  Kessler noted that the OEPA requires yearly reports and can monitor a stream if problems arise.  However, to require a revised plan, a connection between a specific operator’s practices and the stream impairment must be made.  OEPA does encourage operators to meet the phosphorus standard.

Elder commented that states that have problems with high nutrient levels (e.g., Chesapeake Bay watershed) are looking at controlling phosphorus as well as nitrogen.

Russ Conrad (OSU) questioned whether certification of third party vendors includes methods used for laboratory analysis.  Maurice Watson (OSU) commented that there are no standard reference methods or certification for soil tests, only recommendations.  Elder noted that NCR #13 recommends methods.  Watson responded that these are not certified by a government agency.  Elder suggested that this is an area that needs attention.  Watson noted that national standard procedures are under development for manure testing.

The impact of a new administration on the slow down or reversal of EPA policy was questioned.  Elder commented that policies are out of U.S. EPA, not the Federal Register, so they are subject to change.

Tom Price (Price-Barnes Organics) noted that the current policy for livestock operators is zero discharge and questioned the existence of future air discharge regulations.  Kessler responded that the OEPA is reviewing air emissions exemptions.  Current scrutiny by social and government entities will probably result in increased study and documentation.

Short questioned if the permitting process considers whether land for applying manure is rented or owned by the operator and if land is monitored to maintain the required acreage.  Kessler replied that the initial application for a PTI must include sworn affidavits concerning rented land and an annual report must include updates of these contracts.  Also, the OEPA can inspect these properties.

Gene McCluer (OSU) questioned whether changes are expected in regulations for applying poultry manure to no-till farms.  Kessler commented that it is allowed in some instances but contingency plans and setbacks are required.    Elder noted that OEPA guidelines are similar.

A Lima participant asked who is liable when manure is purchased and spread by a broker from a producer such as Buckeye Egg Farm.  Kessler responded that a broker has a contractual agreement with the producer to apply the manure as required by the PTI.  However, because the contract does not specify who is liable, liability is decided on a case-by-case basis.  Also, just because complaints arise regarding nuisance issues in applying manure, it does not mean anyone is guilty.  The key it to follow the nutrient management plan.

Price asked how OEPA public meetings that degenerate into a shouting match could be better managed.  Kessler noted that a public meeting is a legal proceeding that produces a legal document.  Each person testifies and there is no control of comments unless they are abusive.  During a public information session, concerned citizens and others have open discussions that can improve communications.

L. Smith asked how many PTI applications the OEPA can handle each year.  If there is an increase, could they handle it?  Kessler noted that 15 to 20 applications are approved each year, and 5 to 10 are returned for revisions.  If the number of applications increases, it will strain their resources.

John Dougla (Dairy Producer) commented that if numbers cited by Monnin were correct (95% or 1400 farms per year fall under NRCS guidance), OEPA could expect 70 applications per year.  Kessler noted that there are ambiguities in the percentages used – they are not exact figures.  Monnin replied that the percentages are based on national figures.  Also, the 1400 farms are based on existing farms, not new applications.

L. Smith questioned the probability that permits will be required for operations with fewer than 1,000 AUs.  Elder noted that the threat exists but that because of the time and cost involved, nutrient management of smaller farms is expected to remain voluntary.  The exception is if specific problems arise.

Monnin observed that if more producers under 1,000 A.U. voluntarily develop and follow CNMPs, it will help to prevent additional regulations.  Kessler noted that there will be more emphasis on smaller farms over the next few years.  However, the U.S. and Ohio EPA prefer voluntary plans and recommend operators to be given two years to correct problems after they are identified.

Permits to Install:  Ohio’s CAFOs respond
Jon Rausch, Ohio State University

In Ohio, CAFOs * are required to receive a Permit to Install from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).  In Fall 1999 operators of Ohio’s 115 CAFOs received a survey concerning the permitting process.  Although the data is still being analyzed, preliminary results (65 respondents) indicate that Ohio CAFOs are family operated, represent less than 25% of livestock production in Ohio, are between 4 and 40 times larger than the average livestock operation and gross sales of over $1.2 million annually.  On average, application processing required 137 days.  Compared to those submitting incomplete applications, those with completed applications experienced fewer requests for additional information, more OEPA contacts before submitting the application and fewer OEPA contacts after submitting it.

The survey also addressed manure handling practices.  While the majority (69%) of applicants did not change manure storage facilities to obtain a permit, others had to install a special facility or expand an existing one.  Of the manure generated, the majority (72%) is applied to owned or rented farmland or moved off-farm with the remaining being processed before transport.  To receive permits, over 57% of the CAFOs formalized agreements to utilize or transport manure.  The OEPA also requested special conditions from 34% of the CAFOs including machinery and equipment (average cost - $10,000); time, labor and consulting ($12,000); and other management or structural changes ($20,000).  Approximately 56% negotiated of these special conditions with the OEPA. Of those surveyed, 71% recommended changing the permitting process in some way.

* CAFO -Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation.  These farms have more than 1,000 animal units, e.g., 700 mature dairy cattle, 2,500 swine each weighing more than 55 lbs., 100,000 laying hens, etc.

Note:  “Columbus” indicates an unidentified participant in Columbus

Columbus asked if there is a “typical” Ohio CAFO or if it refers to an average of a wide range of numbers.  Rausch responded that it is an average.  For example, an individual CAFO may apply 100% of its manure on-farm while another may transport 100% of its manure off-farm.  The average is 50% on-farm and 50% off-farm.

Fred Michel (OSU) questioned the fate of the off-farm manure.  Rausch speculated that the majority is given to a nearby neighbor for field application.  Some manure is sold through a broker and less than 2% is processed to create a value-added product such as compost.

Columbus asked about the recommended changes in the permitting process.  Rausch replied that not all respondents specified changes.  However, the suggestions included speeding up the processing time, moving the permitting authority to the Ohio Department of Agriculture and requiring OEPA reviewers to be more familiar with livestock operations.

Columbus asked is enough information is available to determine if there have been changes in the permitting process between 1984 and 1999.  For example, has the time to issue a permit increased or decreased or the number or type of special condition changed?  Rausch noted that although the data exists, it has not yet been analyzed in this way.

Maurice Watson (OSU) asked if the OEPA follows up with a permit after inspection.  Rausch observed that the current process is for spot or random inspections.  It is not clear how often a given operation is inspected.  Kevin Elder (ODNR) noted that the OEPA proposes to spot check 25 facilities per year.

Michel asked how much of Ohio’s total production of livestock is accounted for by CAFOs.  Rausch estimated approximately 10 to 15%.  Elder noted that it varies by species and may be as high as 20% for some.

Jay Dorsey? (OSU) asked if farms are staying below the 1,000 animal unit requirement to avoid the permitting process.  Rick Stowell (OSU) responded that it varies by species.  Some groups or individuals recommend operations be limited to 90% of the specified number then replicated at different locations.  On the other hand, some operations that have fewer than 1,000 animal units have voluntarily submitted applications for a permit.

Harold Keener (OSU) commented that the permitting process may have a negative impact on the expansion or addition of livestock operations in Ohio.  Some may go to other states.  Stowell noted that the application time and open-endedness can be a problem.  Operators who have tied up millions of dollars in an expansion need to have a commitment to proceed within a year.  However, other states are experiencing similar problems.

Gene McClure (OSU) reported that there is a perception that the OEPA is not granting permits at this time.  Paul Painter (OEPA, Ag Unit) responded that the current issue is a review of the impact on air pollution.  They are waiting for the review to be final before acting on permits.

Painter also noted that centralization of the OEPA two years ago and political issues have had an impact on the review process.  Also, the level of expertise within the Ag Unit has increased.  Painter emphasized that the OEPA’s request for special conditions is a result of the quality of the application.  Issues that are addressed up front require few, if any, special conditions.

Stowell asked if there is a relationship between the OEPA’s request for special conditions and whether the application is complete.   Rausch responded that although the survey data has not been evaluated for such a correlation, it is possible.  Painter noted that while special conditions create apprehension, they are not an OEPA policy.  He reiterated that they are a means to address technical needs that have not been addressed in the application.

Keener questioned the air quality issues producers will need to address in the future.  Painter noted that he is not qualified to speak on air quality issues but more information should be available in the next several weeks.  Title V permits and particulate matter emissions are expected to be addressed.

Ohio EPA water quality sampling associated with AFOs:  Discussion of issues and case studies
Rick Wilson, OEPA, Division of Surface Water, PTI Unit

Public and agency concerns regarding the potential for nutrient runoff from manure applied to frozen fields appear to be justified based on data samples acquired in January 2001.  Investigation of one complaint verified that poultry manure had been spread within a grass waterway and stockpiled 30’ from it.  Water samples taken downstream of the waterway on January 29, 2001, when the ground remained frozen, detected minor amounts of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P).  However, as temperatures rose during a thaw on January 30 and 31, samples detected significantly higher amounts of BOD, N and P.  These values were also high when compared with runoff samples taken during the thaw from fields with no manure applied and from a field in which manure had been applied the previous year.

Although large Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are required to file Livestock Waste Management Plans (LWMP), which specifies manure management practices and record keeping requirements, application of manure to frozen ground is not prohibited.  In this case study, the required records were incomplete, lacking specific sources of manure (i.e., barns), laboratory data to verify manure moisture and manure and soil nutrients, names of haulers and spreaders, any indication of field inspection or oversight by the AFO operator.  To address the apparent disconnect between agencies which address manure management, the OEPA developed a “Memorandum of Understanding Concerning State AFO Programs” between the OEPA and Soil and Water Conservation Districts which outlines communication between the agencies regarding information and technical support as well as reports of discharges.

A Columbus participant asked whether similar BOD, N and P loads discharged during the thaw would be permitted from municipalities. Wilson responded that a large city such as Columbus, could discharge similar loads (5,790 lbs. BOD, 356 lbs. ammonia, and 242 pounds of P) but a smaller municipality could not. 

Harry Hoitink (OSU) noted that phosphorus and ammonia losses were relatively low during the thaw and it appeared that BOD was the primary pollutant.  This suggests that N and P are tied up in the BOD.  Wilson responded that these cannot necessarily be correlated.  BOD reflects substances which remove oxygen from water as they decompose.

Kevin Elder (ODA) asked how many tons of manure were applied to the field.  Wilson said 6,548 wet tons were applied to 1,461 acres.  Of the wet tons, records indicated that 3,713 tons were at least 50% solids and 2,930 tons were at least 70% solids.  However, the sampling location drained only 330 of the 1,461 acres.  Wilson also noted that it appeared that the percent solids were based on estimates not laboratory data as there were no variations in moisture other than 50% and 70%.

Elder questioned the number of total pounds of ammonia applied on the 330 acres.  Wilson responded that the records indicated that application rates did not exceed 3 dry tons/acre.    

A Columbus participant asked if rain had contributed to the discharge of manure from a 300-cow dairy in March 2001.  Wilson said no.  The holding pond had reached capacity and a contract applicator had applied the liquid manure, plugging field tiles to reduce runoff.  However, due to the slope of the field, the hydraulic head created pressure on the tiles causing the system to short circuit.  Fortunately, there were no fish killed.  Wilson noted that a hearing was held four days later regarding the dairy’s request for expansion to 2,500 cows.

Fred Michel (OSU) noted that regulations for the pulp paper industry specify color limits based on platinum-cobalt colors.  Is there a similar system to regulate the color of water from manure runoff?  Wilson was not familiar with the regulation for the pulp paper industry as it is relatively new.  There is not a similar method for manure.

John Smith (OSUE) asked if any fines had been levied for the application of manure to frozen fields for the case presented.  No, because settlement negotiations were already underway to address previous violations. 

Smith also asked if manure is sold, is the owner of the land to which it is applied responsible?  Wilson noted that permits issued by the OEPA do indicate that responsibility but it is very vague and difficult to enforce.   Smith asked if the same is true for composted manure.  No, the permit primarily deals with raw manure. 

Bob Miltner (OEPA) asked if the if the results of the sampling were the norm or exception given the obvious mismanagement of manure handling evidenced by the results.  Wilson responded that it was the first time such sampling had been done by the OEPA.  As a result, the statewide impact of manure application to frozen ground is currently unknown.

Maurice Watson (OSU) questioned how the LWMP addresses application to frozen ground.  Wilson noted that it only stipulates the rate of application.  The State of Vermont does prohibit it.

Elder noted, for clarification, that the rates specified in the LWMP are based on zero discharge from a site.  Thus, discharge should occur only as a result of over application.  Wilson also observed that anyone who purchases the manure from the AFO is supposed to also follow the LWMP.

Elder suggested that while the discharge at the case study site was high compared to most municipalities, the discharge was of a short duration.  There is some data that indicates that there is similar movement or periods of high discharge related to biosolids.  If manure is to be sampled, so should biosolids.

Miltner discussed the development of a database of nutrient and fish communities in Ohio.  It correlates nutrient parameters, habitat, and biological production and indicates how to interpret the results for TMDL assessments.  Habitat is important to the assimilation of nutrients.  In Ohio, it appears that more nitrogen is ending up in streams than can be assimilated.

Perceived risks of dioxins: Are proposed EPA sewage sludge regulations protecting animal agriculture?
Dr. Lynn Willett,Ohio State University

The US EPA recently published 10-year study on dioxin which identifies 2,3,7,8-tetrachloro-p- dioxin, dioxin congeners and other dioxin-like compounds as potent animal toxins as well as likely carcinogens.  Although the carcinogenic potential is controversial within the scientific community, the report states these effects may be “. . .occurring in humans at general population background levels.”  According to the report, dioxins, by-products of combustion and industrial chemical processes, enter the food chain primarily from volatilization from soil to forage crops to milk, dairy and beef products, which are identified as the source of 60-90% of human exposure.  Dioxins accumulate and are stored in fat tissues with clearance rates ranging from a half-life of 58 days in lactating cattle to 7.1 years in humans. 

US EPA standards on the use and disposal of sewage sludge are codified in 40 CFR 503 which is expected to be finalized in December 2001.  Although sewage sludge as a soil amendment is favored for sustainable agriculture, it is a potential source of dioxins, especially if co-mingled with industrial waste and household chemicals.  The initially proposed standards would permit application of sewage sludge with less than 300 part per trillion (ppt) of dioxin and require testing by Public Operated Treatment Works (POTWs) treating more than 1 million gallons per day.  The OEPA sewage sludge regulations, being developed under Ohio Administrative Code 3745-40, do not specify a tolerance limit for dioxins but are expected to use the US EPA limit.  The OH 3745-40 requires testing for dioxins by POTWS treating more than 100,000 gallons per day.  

The federal and state EPA sewage sludge regulations are not consistent with the findings of the EPA dioxin study.  The US EPA regulations permit application of sewage sludge with dioxin levels significantly above the mean rural background level of 3.6 ppt which was identified as having potential toxic and/or carcinogenic effects.  In addition, the study stated that “At elevated chronic exposures of about 10 times background exposures, clearly adverse effects have been observed in both animals and humans.”  The National Sewage Sludge Survey indicates that about 90% of sewage sludge has dioxin levels between 3.6 and 300 ppt.  Both regulations require records of sewage sludge application be kept only 5 years even though the half-life in soil is 25 to 100 years.  If regulations change to meet the perceived risks stated in the dioxin study, soils receiving application of sludge with dioxin levels above background are at risk of being permanently taken out of production in the future.


Chris Bowman (OEPA) agreed with Willett’s presentation of the study and regulations and noted that the OH 3745-40 is not complete.

John Estinick (OEPA) asked if the clearance rate of 57 days for a lactating cow was for 2,3,7,8-TCDD only or other congeners and dioxin-like chemicals.  Willett noted that the half-life figures were based on a combination of data and were therefore only ballpark estimates.

Estinick clarified several points:
1)    Although dioxins do not translocate through plants, there can be some absorption at the roots resulting in a concentration there.  It is not a problem, unless the plant’s roots are ingested.  
2)     POTWs which have no industrial waste stream may still have dioxins from both toilet paper and human feces. 
3)    In 1986, a US EPA risk assessment of the application of paper-mill sludge for mine reclamation indicated that dioxin levels of 100 ppt did not pose an unacceptable risk to farmers living off the land.  However, farmers who ingested dioxin-contaminated livestock and poultry did have higher concentrations in their tissues.
4)    EPA discussions have focused on the concern of sewage sludge application to pasture land.  Willett responded that the regulations focus on pasture, but they are not as major a source of feed as forage (hay, chopped corn, etc.) or other plants with a large leaf canopy.  Estinick agreed and noted that the US EPA has ongoing research regarding forage but results are preliminary and have not been published.

Mike Lilburn (OSU) asked about the possibility of treating sewage sludge as more cost effective than treating contaminated soil.  Willett responded that it is difficult to separate dioxins from the sludge.  Activated charcoal can tie up the dioxins but it is only temporary.

Lilburn asked whether the negative effects of spreading brine include being a potential source of chlorinated compounds.  Willett did not think so.  If the brine is produced from an oil well there is a possibility of mixing with hydrocarbons, however, high temperatures are needed to produce dioxins.

Maurice Watson (OSU) asked if any microorganisms had been identified for bioremediation of dioxins.  Willett replied that they had been studied since the 70’s with little success as it is difficult to break the aromatic rings and oxygen bridges associated with dioxins.  The white rot fungus showed potential but has not panned out.  Ultraviolet light will break down dioxins, but a good source is needed.  Dioxins in soil may be lightly covered quickly reducing UV penetration.

Jack Vimmerstedt (OSU) asked whether stopping the use of chlorine in treating wastewater would reduce dioxins.  Willett agreed that it could but would increase the risk of pathogens in water supplies which is a greater concern.

Watson noted that he had heard that the highest concentrations of dioxins are in vacuum cleaners.  Estinick commented that furnace filters have the highest concentration and that they can be found in dryer lint or other placers where air is filtered.

Harold Keener (OSU) suggested that since dioxins are continually volatizing from the soil, concentrations should be reduced.  Willett agreed but noted that there is a continuing replenishment.  Surveys conducted over the last 20 years, indicate an overall decrease in dioxins as sources have been identified and eliminated.  However, in applying sludge, there is a risk of increasing the background level – as risk that is preventable.

Fred Michel (OSU) asked the Ah receptor binding which results in toxicity is related to the carcinogenic mechanisms.  Willett noted that it is part of it but more is involved. 

Michel asked if incineration of municipal waste is stopped, would dioxin levels be reduced.  Willett said it could help but is not necessarily.  The incineration process needs to be improved so dioxins don’t form.  Estinick noted that the EPA is working on incineration regulations, including cremation and agricultural open barrel burning which can generate dioxins equivalent to a municipal incinerator for the same time period.

Bruce Bailey (Kurtz Bros.) asked if dairy farms receive sludge where cows graze.  His experience is that it is usually applied for agronomic crops where leaf cover gives protection to the crop.  Willett did not have a percentage of dairy farms applying sludge.  He noted that even if the sludge is applied only to agronomic crops, there is no guarantee that the crop will not change in the future.  With a long long-half life, dioxin continues to be a potential contaminant.

Bailey asked if the problem exists of only organic farms or all.  Willett said all.  Bailey asked Bowman if he was aware of a major problem with farms being taken out of production.  Bowman was not aware of any but commented that he was not the best person to ask. 

Bailey noted that, in his experience, the Ohio Farm Bureau supports sewage sludge application to farmland and questioned whether they need to address this potential problem.  Willett responded that they should pay attention to the issue because of the potential ramifications of the US EPA’s statement regarding background levels.  Although current contamination of livestock is not a problem it could be immaterial if it is perceived to be a problem in the future.

Dave Jones (OSU) asked for clarification on the point that application of sludge to pasture is not a problem but would be for alfalfa or corn silage.  If a farmer were using only pasture, wouldn’t that be a problem?  Willett noted that for that farmer it would be.  However, those livestock feeding only on pasture are a small percentage of the total.  Scenarios differ for different farms.

Keener suggested that it could be assumed that if the sludge is tested for dioxins, the risk depends on the concentration.  Willett agreed.  The sludge is not a problem unless it contains regulated or harmful substances.

Bailey asked the range and mean of dioxin concentrations for sewage sludge tested in Ohio.  Bowman responded that, for the 40 POTWs tested in Ohio, the range was 1.85 to 65 ppt with a mean of 20 ppt.  For comparison, sludge tested from 10 large, east coast municipalities (New York City, Baltimore, Boston and Pittsburgh) had a higher mean.  The highest tested was from Wheeling, West Virginia at 184 ppt.

Bailey asked if the material from West Virginia was sludge or composted sludge.  Estinick was not sure.

Watson questioned the standard deviation of analysis for testing.  Willett noted that it is hard to answer as there are differences in laboratories and abilities to measure such small concentrations.  Bowman noted that only 6 labs were approved for dioxin concentrations but the US EPA has recently increased the number. 

Willett asked if criteria have been set for quality control/variance of approved labs.  Estinick noted that the Federal Register specifies analytical methodology for 2,3,7,8-TCDD at 2 part per quatrillion(?) with an upper limit of 10 ppqt although it varies with the matrix and interfering compounds.

Billie Lindsay (OSU) asked the cost of dioxin tests.  Estinick replied that it varied depending on the matrix.  The cheapest is for dioxin in water at about $700.  For non-water matrix, the cost can range from $900-$1,500, with soil or sludge at about $1,000 and tissue the most expensive.  Canadian laboratories are substantially cheaper due to the current exchange rate.  The total number of samples also affect the cost.

Review of Senate Bill 141 Rules
Kevin Elder, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Livestock Permitting Division

Following a brief overview of SB 141 rule for permitting of livestock facilities for concentrated animal feeding opertions, the floor was opened for quesitons.  To review the rules and for more information on the permitting process, click here.

John Smith (OSU) questioned the expected time needed for approval once an application is submitted.  Elder replied that is expected to be less than 90 days but will depend on the response of the public in requesting a public meeting and hearing.  Seven to ten days after receipt of the permit application, a notice of intent will appear in the local newspaper.  If within 30 days more than 20 people request a public meeting, a notice will be published announcing the meeting in another 30 days.  Following the meeting, a public hearing may be requested following the same procedure.

Elder noted that operators can minimize the processing time by discussing the application with ODA while it is being prepared.  This will allow questions to be answered ahead of time and reduce delays once the application is submitted.

Ted Short (OSU) asked the status of the operations currently permitted under the OEPA.  Elder responded that the ODA will review the permits for these 120 farms and will visit each to confirm compliance with the existing permit and verify that water quality problems do not exist.  The first priority is to protect water quality and the second is to ensure all components of the facility are covered under the new rules.  Compliance to the new rules will be required within 2 years.  If capital expenditures are required, they are limited to $4/animal units within this time frame.  If larger expenditures are required, the facility will have 5 years to comply with the new rules unless waster quality is impaired.

Fred Michel (OSU) asked about limitations on the distribution of manure and manure products off-farm.  Elder replied that is the manure is applied to off-farm acreage, manure tests must be provided and all standards specified in the permit (e,g,, setbacks, slope limitations, etc.) must be met.  If the manure is transported to a composting facility, it must be tested and the volume documented.

Agriculture and Carbon Sequestration
Dr. Rattan Lal, Ohio State University

The greenhouse effect is caused by atmospheric gasses, including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, that help trap heat near the earth’s surface and is essential for life.  However, burning of fossils fuels has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and created an increase in the temperature at a rate of more than 0.1 C/decade, an effect known as global warming.  Because the potential impact of global warming can affect sea level and climate, scientists are evaluating ways to sequester carbon into pools, such as vegetation and soil, where it can reside for 10 to 35 years.  Typical disposition of organic residues results in 60 to 80% of the carbon returning to the atmosphere as CO2.  Agricultural practices can reduce these emissions by increasing the density and depth of carbon in the soil profile and decreasing the decomposition of carbon and losses due to erosion.  Tillage and planting practices that reduce soil erosion and the land application of manure and other organic materials can increase carbon sequestration.   There are also hidden carbon costs associated with fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation due to emissions of CO2 during manufacturing and from energy consumption.  Changes in agricultural practices have the potential to reduce carbon emissions by 288 million tons/year in the U.S. and 1 billion tons/yr worldwide.  Although it is not a long term solution, soil sequestration of carbon has the potential to help reduce CO2 emissions to a more sustainable level while alternative energy sources are being developed.

Charlotte Bedet (OSU) questioned the Department of Energy slide indicating soil sequestration as a primary means of reducing CO2 emissions.  What is the role of the end-use technology which appears to be more dominant after 2050?  Lal clarified that soil will play a major role in carbon sequestration only in the next 20-30 years as it is currently the most cost effective option.  Carbon emissions are 6 billion tons/year and soil sequestration can only reduce that by 1 billion tons/year.  Larger sinks, such as renewable energy alternatives to replace fossil fuels, are needed to have a long term impact.  Soil sequestration provides a bridge to that future.

Krishna Vadrevu (OSU), referring to a sustainability index that is determined as a ratio of carbon output to carbon input, asked if net primary productivity is the best measure of carbon output.  There is a maximum limit to net primary productivity, thus the harvest index may be a better measure.  Lal replied that in order for a system to be sustainable, the index should be 4 to 5 and increasing.  That is, the carbon being produced should be 4 to 5 times greater than what is being consumed.  The ratio is important not the exact output.  The harvest index is limited because it does not consider root biomass.

Navigating the CNMP Process
Mark Wilson, Land Stewards, LLC

The Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is a planning tool based on USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical standards and specifications.  A CNMP is comprised of six general areas:  manure and waste handling and storage, land application of nutrients, land treatment/soil conservation, alternative utilization of manure, record keeping and feed management (optional). Livestock producers can apply for Environmental Quality Improvement Program (EQIP) cost share funds to help defray the cost of developing a CNMP and a CNMP is required for producers applying for EQIP funds for implementing manure management practices.  Producers may also request a CNMP to improve farm management and profitability or to meet requirements of regulatory agencies if manure management practices have not been effective.  Producers usually ask their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to write the plan, but the option to contract with certified Technical Service Providers (TSP) also exists.  Although the NRCS has developed a website (http://techreg.usda.gov/) to help expedite the process of using private TSPs, the TSP program has had limited success in Ohio due to inefficiencies in the certification process and reimbursement rates that do not cover the costs of completing the CNMP.   As a result, SWCD personnel have a backlog of CNMPs to write which has resulted in much of the work being contracted to TSPs outside of Ohio resulting in frustration for everyone involved.
Fred Michel (OSU) asked if CNMPs are required based on the size of the facility.  Wilson noted that size is not a criteria; only producers requesting EQIP funds are required to have a CNMP.  Jon Berger (SWCD) noted that most requests are from livestock producers but some crop farmers who utilize manure may also request one.

Michel asked what percentage of farmers receive EQIP funds.  Wilson did not have a figure but noted that 80-90% of producers are involved in commodity programs.  Berger noted that in Wayne County, which has 1800 farms, only 30-40 have received EQIP funds.

Duane Wood (SWCD) asked if there is a cost difference between states in the note to exceed reimbursement rates and the number of plans.  Wilson has not evaluated that but noted that Environmental Management Solutions, a company in Iowa certified to write CNMPs, estimates that approximately 100 hours are needed by experienced TSP to write a CNMP.  In Ohio, the estimate is 60-80 hours per plan.  Wood noted that the $1500 cap on reimbursements in Ohio is not very realistic.

Maurice Watson (OSU) asked how often a plan needs to be re-written.  Wilson responded that they need to be reviewed yearly and record keeping must be current.  Berger noted that soil tests must be updated every three years.  If a farmers changes animal units by more than 10% or applies for additional EQIP funds, a new CNMP may be needed.  Wood noted that there are opportunities for making the system more efficient.  Wilson agreed and said that the time needed for writing a plan varies with the amount of information available and the producer’s organization of that information.
Mary Wicks (OSU) questioned the economics of contracting Ohio CNMPs to a TSP in North Carolina and whether site visits are required.  Berger noted that for the 70 plans written by the TSP, one visit was made to Ohio.  A site visit is not necessary for the CNMP but would be required for a manure management plan approved by the Ohio Department of Agriculture which requires a Conservation Plan.  Wilson suggested that the costs of writing 70 plans may be spread somewhat.

Robert Mullen (OSU) commented that he had been working with Norm Widman (NRCS) to develop a TSP training program at OSU.  As Widman has left the state, the discussions will have to wait for his replacement.    

Powderlick Run: A model for meeting Ohio’s water quality goals
Andy Rogowski, ODA-Livestock Environmental Permitting Program

Hydromodification, which typically includes removal of trees, straightening, and deepening of streams, is the leading cause of water quality impairment in both Ohio and the U.S.  Powderlick Run is roughly a 4 square mile watershed located in north western Union County, Ohio.  Some sections of this stream have been modified including a 3,600 foot reach on Daylay Egg Farm property just south of York Center.  The stream drains to Bokes Creek then to the Scioto River which is the source of drinking water for Columbus.  Powderlick did not meet Ohio’s water quality standards for chemical water quality or bio criteria (fish and macro invertebrates).  Stream restoration typically focuses on three primary methods of improving nutrient processing: travel time, denitrification potential of the substrate, and the addition of carbon to the system.  Travel time was increased in this project by building a meandering stream with riffles and pools.  The meanders were created within a 50-60 foot belt width and utilized existing filter strips to create a flood plain.  The constructed riffles were built to help oxygenate and denitrify the water column.  Carbon was not added to the system but will begin to naturally accumulate as the riparian area which is comprised of trees, shrubs, and grasses begins to deposit organic matter.  As a result of the restoration project, fish and macro invertebrate populations have increased.  A significant improvement has also been made in the nitrogen assimilation capacity of the stream from 0.29 mg/l/hr over 12 miles to 11.9 mg/l/hr over ½ mile.  Chemical and sediment loading has also been reduced: nitrogen by 1,530 lbs/yr, phosphorus by 766 lbs/yr and sediment by 760 tons/yr.  Continued water quality improvements are expected from growth of trees and shrubs planted along the stream which will provide shade for cooling and carbon to tie up nutrients. 

While a floodplain of 6-10 times the channel width is usually recommended for stream restoration, results of the Powder Lick Run, in which the floodplain is 5-6 times the channel width, indicate that significant improvements can be achieved by slowing water movement, increasing substrate for aquatic habitat, and developing a vegetated floodplain. Oxbow River and Stream Restoration’s President, Steve Phillips, said it would be hard to add too much carbon to the system during construction and research is underway to quantify how much is needed to help jump start various projects.  Additional benefits of stream restoration include the elimination of maintenance for dredging and clearing and decreased flooding.  For this project, 60 percent of the funding was provided by an Ohio EPA 319 Water Quality Implementation Grant. The remaining 40 percent of the project cost was provided by the following project partners: Daylay Egg Farm, Oxbow River & Stream Restoration, Inc., City of Columbus, Scioto River Valley Federation, and the Union Soil and Water Conservation District.

Harold Keener (OSU) asked how a farmer who would have to pay the costs of stream restoration, including taking acres out of production, might view a restoration project.  Rogowski noted that the farm operators at Daylay Egg Farm, which has 3 non-discharging CAFOs in the watershed, were not initially supportive of the project, but as education at the site has increased awareness of the benefits, there is increasing acceptance among the local residents.  The Daylay farm operators do not have a problem with the project because their drainage has been improved.  It should also be noted that the stream restoration project was completed within the original footprint of the ditch and filter strips.  The ODA also recognizes the problems resulting from hydromodification and the benefits of restoration.  It is also important to know that while the goal of TMDLs (total maximum daily loads) is to decrease phosphorus, nitrogen and sediment loads, the reality is that the “fish and bug” population carries much more weight in determining the health of the stream.  These populations will increase as loading decreases even if chemical water quality standards have not been achieved.

Keener questioned the expected adoption by smaller operations for which the costs may be prohibitive.  Rogowski suggested that larger farms are the starting point as they can better bear the financial burden and are under regulatory and neighbor pressure.  However, smaller farms can make improvements but will need help with funding, including community support.  Note:  319 funds require a match from the community.

Brian Gwin (Wayne Economic Development Council) asked if the water quality improvement from the Powder Lick Run restoration provided any benefits to the City of Columbus.  Yes, the Scioto River is used for drinking water and the City purchased an easement on the project to protect it for future generations.  This is also similar to what New York City has done by providing money for upstream BMP’s instead of spending it on equipment to treat the water.  They have found that upstream BMP’s are more cost effective.

Gwin questioned whether various components of restoration could be implemented with some expected improvement.  This approach could be more cost effective.  Rogowski noted that the cost of restoration for a smaller headwater watershed is approximately $70/linear foot.