Liners and Covers for Agricultural Waste Storage

Robert T. Burns, Faculty, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering


Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the Midwest require environmentally safe storage of agricultural waste.  There are multiple storage options for agricultural waste differing by cost and system needs. Liners help keep agricultural waste from seeping into the ground water and rivers. Agricultural waste covers reduce air emissions including particulate matter, odor, and harmful gases. Synthetic covers can also be used to collect gas to be use as an energy source.  


The objective of this course was to inform consultants, regulators, engineers and facility managers of the different liner and cover options for containment of agricultural waste and instruct participants on proper use and installation as well as the benefits and limitations of each system.


Dr. Burns developed the Liners and Covers training in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and industry specialist. The training includes the topics of compacted clay liners, geosynthetic liners, and permeable and impermeable covers; case studies, demonstrations, and site tours are provided to enhance learning. The training gives detailed information on design, installation, and testing methods that are appropriate for manures, agricultural wastes, industrial wastes, and municipal wastes. Participants include engineers and consultants involved in specifying, designing, or testing manure or waste containment liner and cover systems, regulators involved in permitting or evaluating waste storage structures, individuals involved in the installation and testing of compacted clay liners or geosynthetic covers, and individuals involved in the selection, specification, or design of gas and water collection systems for waste system covers.


This course trained 76 participants on Liner and Cover options. Industry consultants (both private and corporate), NRCS, regulatory agencies, and extension personnel attended the training. These individuals will use this information provided to assist producers in liner and cover selection and installation.


160 Natural Resources and Stewardship 

Page last updated: August 26, 2008
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