AMES, Iowa -- As beef producers work to produce meat for a hungry world, they also must be stewards of animals, land and water. Small open feedlots are used across Iowa to grow and finish beef animals. Operators of these feedlots manage manure and runoff better when they have affordable control and containment solutions, and workable management practices.
Small feedlots don’t come under all the regulations of large feedlots, but they can still have a significant impact on water quality, according to Shawn Shouse, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach agricultural engineer. Educational materials developed by ISU Extension and Outreach with industry and agency partners are assisting operators in their effort to decrease potential manure impacts on water quality.
“Management systems that work for the big feedlots are too expensive for the small operators,” said Shouse. “But there are a variety of affordable practices they can put in place to keep nutrients and pollutants from reaching Iowa streams.”
Shouse outlines those practices in a recently released publication, “Small Open Beef Feedlots in Iowa – a producer guide.” The guide, available from the Extension Online Store at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/, is one of many resources available to producers on a dedicated Web page for small feedlot and dairy operations, http://www.agronext.iastate.edu/immag/smallfeedlotsdairy.html. A similar publication for small open dairy lots is currently under review and will be available later this spring.
Shouse said fact sheets with more detail on practices mentioned in the producer guides are also being created. Demonstration sites around the state with the practices in place are being identified. “Operators will see that there are simple things they can do to get nutrients where they want them,” said Shouse. “We want them to understand what is in feedlot runoff, how it impacts streams and how simple it is to make environmental improvements to their operation that will limit environmental risks.”
Self assessment tools to identify feedlot runoff risk, videos and fact sheets are available on the small feedlot and dairy operations Web page. These educational resources are part of the Water Quality Initiatives for Small Iowa Beef and Dairy Feedlot Operations project supported by the Iowa DNR, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State Dairy Association, USDA-NRCS, EPA Region 7 and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.