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Agricultural Nutrient Management
Snyder County > Departments > Conservation District > Agricultural Nutrient Management

 General Information

Every farm in Pennsylvania that land applies manure is required to have some type of a written plan that describes how the manure and other nutrients are managed. This includes manure application by various types of equipment and/or direct application by animals on pastures and in animal concentration areas. By following the application requirements, the farmer will optimize yields and protect streams, rivers, ponds and groundwater.

However, certain farms require different plans. Farm operations can be grouped into three categories:

  • Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs, PA Act 38 Regulations)
  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs, EPA NPDES regulations through DEP)
  • All other operations

The sections below describe who falls in what category and what is involved. A chart titled "What Type of Plan Do You Need?" within the "General Info Links" section helps describes all possible situations.

Note: A farmer can earn a tax credit by completing a REAP application if you hire someone to write his manure management plan (MMP) or nutrient management plan (NMP). Also, there is a statewide cost share program available for farmers to hire a consultant to write a plan. Details can be found in our Agricultural Conservation Assistance web page under the "Financial Assistance" section.

 CAOs - PA Act 38

Act 38 of 2005 replaces the original Act 6 of 1993, the state’s first law that required certain farms to have approved nutrient management plans. Act 38 requires that Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) to develop and maintain a nutrient management plan. A CAO is an agricultural operation that has an animal density which exceeds two animal equivalent units (AEUs) per acre of land that can receive manure on an annualized basis. If a farm is not a CAO, this operation can also volunteer in the program.

These nutrient management plans must be submitted to the Conservation District for review under the supervision of the PA State Conservation Commission. Once approved, they must be updated within three years. CAOs and volunteers following approved nutrient management plans can receive limited liability protection.

If you are not certain if your farm operation is a CAO or when your nutrient management plan needs to be updated, contact Chip Spatz, Nutrient Management Technician, (570-837-3000, x119) to either call him direct or to set up an appointment.

For more information about the PA Nutrient Management Program, either contact Chip Spatz or go to links identified under "Act 38 External Links."

Farmers needing Act 38 nutrient management plans (NMPs) need to be aware of a change in policy: No manure can be field applied until the new NMP is approved!
For example, if a farmer wishes to apply manure in the fall of 2018, a farmer’s NMP will be being written for crop years 2019, 2020 and 2021. (The actual calendar plan dates are October 1, 2018 – September 30, 2021.) In order for the farmer to ensure that the NMP will be approved before October 1, 2018, it should be submitted to the Snyder County Conservation District (SCCD) at least by May 30, 2018.
Forward any questions about this and other nutrient management program issues to Chip Spatz, SCCD Nutrient Management Technician, at 570-837-3000, x119.


A small number of operations are classified as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). These operations are based on the number of animals. Refer to the CAFO Chart under the "CAFO External Links" section for a current definition.

These operations are regulated under the NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permitting program and other regulations through the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency). In PA, EPA delegates DEP (PA Department of Environmental Protection) to manage the program. CAFOs not only need an Act 38 nutrient management plan, but also complete permitting applications and record keeping requirements. Go to the DEP CAFO web link on the right for more information.

 Most AG Operations

As mentioned before, farm operations that are not a CAO or a CAFO are required to have a manure management plan (MMP), a simplified version of a nutrient management plan. Technically, this requirement has been in existence for many years, but DEP could not say exactly what this type of plan would look like in the past.

Now, with increased pressure to improve water quality from EPA and other Federal sources, in 2011, DEP released a workbook in which farmers can fill in the information themselves, follow the minimum guidelines, and be in compliance with PA and Federal water protection laws. Check it out in the "Most AG Operations Links" section on the right-hand side of this web page. Also, please check out the other items in this section as well.

Note: The Conservation District is offering assistance to farmers in helping them write their own manure management plans or teaching them how to write these plans. Farmers can go to in which they can create their own maps for their MMPs.

For more information about MMPs, contact Barry Spangler, Agricultural Conservation Technician, at 570-837-3000, x118.

 Other Manure Issues & Topics

There are two other programs, not through conservation districts, that effect certain farmers indirectly through nutrient and manure management:

Manure Hauler & Broker Program: This program certifies people that commercially haul, land apply or broker manure in PA. The PA Department of Agriculture (PDA) is tasked to manage the program. Go to the PA Manure Hauler & Broker Program link under the "Other External Links" section for more information.

Odor Management Program: As part of Act 38, this program requires that new CAOs and CAFOs, as well as CAOs and CAFOs that build new or expand manure storage or animal housing structures, have an odor management plan written and implemented. For more information, go to the PA Odor Management Program link under the "Other External Links" section.

 Contact Information

Snyder County Conservation District
10541 Route 522
Middleburg, PA 17842
Phone: (570) 837-3000
Fax: (570) 837-7300
Hours: Monday thru Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

 Do You Have a MMP?

A friendly message brought to you by the Snyder County Conservation District.

 Attention Animal Operators

**  Warning: You May be a CAO or CAFO  **

The PA State Conservation Commission (SCC) will be changing their average weights for many agricultural animal species very soon. This may redefine some farms from non-CAOs to CAOs (concentrated animal operations) or from non-CAFOs to CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).

If you were just below the CAO and/or CAFO threshold, you man be a CAO and/or CAFO in the near future. New CAOs are required to have an approved nutrient management plan (NMP). New CAFOs are required to have an approved NMP and an approved permit from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

A list of the new standard weights can be found on Penn State Extension's updated Agronomy Facts 54, "PA's Nutrient Management Act (Act 38): Who is Affected?" CAFO definitions may be secured by contacting DEP. CAO & CAFO information can be found within this webpage. You can also contact the Conservation District's Nutrient Management Technician, Chip Spatz, to find out if you operation will be a CAO and/or a CAFO by calling him at 570-837-3000, x119.

Please note that new CAOs and CAFOs should have their NMPs submitted to the Conservation District for review by June 2019 for approval by October 1, 2019. CAFO permit submissions should be sent to DEP by April 1, 2019.

 General Info Links

 SCCD Internal Links

 Act 38 External Links

 CAFO Links

 Most AG Operations Links

 Other External Links