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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Conservation > Conservation Practices > Manure Storage Abandonment

Conservation Practices
Minnesota Conservation Funding Guide

Manure Storage Abandonment

Failed manure pits should be permanently closed or removed. Photo courtesy Univ of Wisconsin Extension.
Failed manure pits should be permanently closed or removed to prevent environmental damage. Photo courtesy Univ of Wisconsin Extension.

An abandoned manure pit being emptied. Photo courtesy Stearns County (MN) SWCD.
An abandoned manure pit being emptied; the nutrient-rich contents can be used on cropland. Photo courtesy Stearns County (MN) SWCD.

Abandoning manure storage or other agricultural waste impoundments, treatment lagoons or liquid storage facilities means permanently removing facilities that are no longer used or can no longer serve their intended purpose in an environmentally sound manner. Typically these are older manure pits or lagoons that no longer work; they might be leaking, eroded or cracked beyond repair or otherwise sub-standard in design or capacity.

Abandonment of old manure pits and lagoons often occurs when a feedlot expands. The old pit may not meet current environmental regulations and design standards, or it may be in the way of planned new facilities.

To properly abandon a manure storage facility, it should be completed emptied. In the in the case of earthen storage facilities, the liner materials (soil/clay) should also be removed and properly spread on land.

Why properly abandon old manure pits or lagoons?

Environmental benefits

  • Protects water quality by removing a significant source of nutrients, pathogens and other potential pollutants
  • Protect the farm's well water

Practical benefits

  • Frees up valuable land for other uses
  • Aids compliance with Minnesota feedlot regulations
  • Removes an eyesore and potential source of complaints from neighbors
  • May provide a one-time but potentially significant source of manure or nutrient-saturated soil for use on crops or landscaping projects
  • Eliminates a major safety hazard for people and livestock and a potentially costly source of associated liability (crusted-over manure may appear solid yet give way underfoot toward the center of a pit)
  • Makes way for improved manure storage facilities, with associated benefits such as reduced labor and greater access to high-quality crop nutrients

Similar & related practices

  • Related practices include manure/ag waste storage and manure management.
  • Manure management or nutrient management practice standards should be followed when manure or nutrient-saturated soils that have been removed from an old storage facility are applied to cropland.
  • Manure storage abandonment can be especially important for drinking water protection because of the significant potential for nutrients, pathogens and other potential contaminants in old, abandoned facilities to leak or leach into groundwater.

More information

Guidance from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service

Other resources


See contacts for specific programs that fund this practice in the side-by-side payment comparison or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District