Delaware County Extension Office Offers Water Quality Test Kit for Small Livestock Producers

water quality testing kit

After an extended dry period in Iowa, recent rains remind us this is a good time for beef and dairy farmers with open lots and cow yards to evaluate if runoff from their cattle yards affects waters below the yard.

As part of the Water Quality Initiative for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations, a cooperative education and outreach program, the Iowa DNR has made water quality testing kits available through twenty Iowa State University Extension and Outreach County Offices. These kits help producers evaluate the impact of potential feedlot runoff from their livestock operation.  In addition to the test kits, resource materials for dairy and beef operations are made available through the Small Feedlot and Dairy Operations Web page at Iowa State University, http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/smallfeedlotsdairy.html.

These kits are quick and simple to use, are free, and the program is confidential.  The only person that knows the results of the ammonia test is the livestock producer.  The test kits come with an instructional video and a fact sheet on water quality impacts. These materials, used in conjunction with the self assessment worksheets and producer guides available on the above web page, can help a livestock producer determine if their manure control structures are operating correctly and can guide producers to cost-effective ways to change control structures or management practices to protect water quality.  

The time to inspect and test is during or shortly after a rainfall, when water is running off the cattle yard.  The water quality testing kit is available from the Delaware County Extension office.  Please contact the Delaware County Extension by calling 563-927-4201 to determine the availability of the kit for use on your farm.

Educational and testing materials are part of the Water Quality Initiative for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations, a two-year plan to provide resources for farmers with small or mid-sized open lots.  Partners in the project include the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State Dairy Association, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has provided partial funding through a Section 319 grant.

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