In spring 1993, the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Act (Act 6) became law. On October 1, 1997, the State Conservation Commission’s regulations detailing the requirements under Act 6 went into effect in Pennsylvania. Since Act 6 regulations went into effect, high-density animal operations were required to develop and implement approved nutrient management plans to safely manage the utilization of manure. Also, many other animal operations voluntarily developed and implemented nutrient management plans.
In 2002, the State Conservation Commission was required by law to review the Act 6 regulations. This extensive review along with a concurrent policy initiative known as Agriculture, Communities, and Rural Environment (ACRE) resulted in a new law (Act 38), which replaced Act 6, and in revised regulations that went into effect October 2006. The Clean Streams Law requirements still apply to all farms using manure. However, Act 38 imposes additional requirements on high-density animal operations.
Who is Affected by These Regulations?
A farm is required to get an Act 38 Nutrient Management Plan if they are a Concentrated Animal Operation (CAOs). CAOs are defined as operations where the animal density exceeds two animal units per acre on an annualized basis (AEU). An AU is defined as 1,000 pounds of animal live weight. However, farms with less than 8AEUs are not required under this law to have an approved Act 38 Nutrient Management Plan regardless of the animal density on the farm.
Farms with less than the mandated animal populations are encouraged to voluntarily develop a plan. Voluntary nutrient management plans follow the same planning criteria as plans developed for CAOs. Under the Clean Streams Law, all farms in Pennsylvania are required to have a manure management plan based on the DEP Manure Manual. An Act 38 nutrient management plan for a CAO or volunteer would meet this requirement.
Voluntary nutrient management plans on non-CAOs can often save the farmer money and improve yields on the operation. Also, properly implemented Act 38 nutrient management plans provide liability protection for the operator from civil penalties and actions.
For more information on Armstrong Conservation District’s Nutrient Management Program or to get a list of available Nutrient Management Specialists, please contact Jessica Schaub at the Armstrong Conservation District at 724-545-3628 or check the PA Nutrient Management website.