We serve farms of all sizes, in all stages of development, all across Michigan.
We are a one-stop shop for NRCS CAP CNMPs, farmers planning new farms, planning expansion of existing farms, MDA Sitting Applications, DEQ CAFO permitting, DEQ No Potential to Discharge Determinations, and CNMPs for Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assessment Program (MAEAP) verification.
Our services range from helping our clients determine if a piece of property is a good location for a new farm through helping the farm to deal with the manure that they produce in a manner that is both environmentally responsible and economically productive.
We develop nutrient management plans to ensure that the nutrients in the farm’s manure are utilized most efficiently as a valuable crop fertilizer.
We also assist with ongoing reporting and record keeping requirements for state issued permits and offer our services to help get and keep farm records organized.
We work hard to stay on top of the changing rules and regulations in Michigan that affect farmers daily management decisions.
- What is a CAP CNMP? A Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP) is an in-depth, living document written to describe how nutrients are managed at a farm. This plan includes details about who produces the manure (animals), where the manure is stored (barn, pit, lagoon, or other), and how the farm uses the nutrients in the manure to grow crops (application). This plan is meant to be kept up to date and followed by the farm. Soil and Manure testing help the farm to apply the correct amount of manure nutrients to the right fields at the right time.
- Still confused about what is in a CNMP? MSU Extension has an excellent description of what is included in a CNMP. Find it Here.
- Why is Nutrient Management so important? An large part of what we do is helping to educate farmers so they can make their own decisions about when and where to apply manure. Manure is a valuable fertilizer if used correctly. However, applying too much manure or applying at the wrong time can result in wasted nutrients. Wasted nutrients can end up in your drinking water, your local streams, and even in your air. Let us develop a CNMP for your farm and show you how to take control of those nutrients and to use them more efficiently.
- What if I want a new Manure Storage? Many farmers know that building a manure storage can help the farm to spread manure more effectively. A manure storage allows the farm to collect manure and spread it all at once when weather and seasonal conditions are optimal. But how is that manure storage going to fit into the rest of the farm system? What is a manure storage going to cost? What design options are there to consider? Building a new manure pit is a huge investment. Let us help you to make sure it is designed and planned correctly before you start digging. We have helped hundreds of farms plan their manure systems. Contact us to see how we can help you make sure your new storage will work for you. We have the experienced staff to make sure it gets done right.
- What is a CAFO? A Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation or CAFO (pronounced “Kay-fo”) is typically defined as a farm that has over 1000 animal units. An “animal unit” is 1000 lbs of animal, so a 1000 lb beef cow = 1 animal unit, while a 1400 lb dairy cow = 1.4 animal units. This isn’t totally honest though because certain groups of animals are “special” for example, it doesn’t make any difference if the turkeys are chicks or adult birds, one turkey is one turkey. Some of the animal numbers are Dairy: 700 adult cows (counting dry and lactating cows, but not heifers), Beef: 1000 cattle, Swine: 2500 (weighing more than 55 lbs). The rest of the numbers are listed in the CAFO permit which can be found on the DEQ CAFO website.
- What is required to apply for a CAFO Permit? The CAFO permit application is 5 pages long and fairly straightforward. However, a completed CNMP is required as part of the application. Additionally, if a farm is expanding to become a CAFO, the manure storages will need to be inspected by a professional engineer. See the CAFO permit checklist for additional information. Contact us with questions you may have about applying for a CAFO permit. We have helped over 100 farms apply for CAFO permits with the DEQ and we understand process very well.
- What is a CAFO No Potential to Discharge Determination? In certain situations, it may be possible for a CAFO to apply for a determination from the DEQ that there is no potential to discharge. This typically can only happen if the farm’s manure storages are not exposed to precipitation, if the farm transfers all of their manure off the farm, and the farm has to be MAEAP verified under the livestock system (see below for more info about the MAEAP program). If you feel your CAFO would qualify for a No Potential to Discharge, contact us to set up a meeting. We have helped several swine and turkey farms attain a No Potential to Discharge Determination from the DEQ and we would be happy to discuss the potential for your farm as well.
- What is involved in a Manure Storage Evaluation? If a farm expands to become a CAFO, they are required to have manure storages that meet the current manure storage construction standards (NRCS 313, 2005) or else be built in a way that provides equivalent protection to the environment. If there was no documentation of the construction by a professional engineer at the time of construction, an evaluation of the structure must be completed. The engineer will research the site’s soil types, neighboring well logs, and other data before coming out to the farm. Then depending on the type of construction, a sample of the liner material may be taken for analysis, and several test holes will need to be dug to determine the depth of the water table. Based on what is found at the site, the engineer will determine if the storage can be used as is, or if it needs to be repaired/replaced. Contact us to schedule an appointment to evaluate your manure storage.
Right to Farm GAAMPS
- What are the GAAMPS? The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) developed a series of Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPS) to protect farmers from nuisance lawsuits. Michigan has GAAMPS for Nutrient Utilization, Manure Management/Utilization, Site Selection, Care of Animals, Irrigation, Pesticides, Cranberry Production, and Farm Markets. These farm management practices are scientifically based and updated annually to utilize current technology promoting sound environmental stewardship on Michigan farms. Find links to the GAAMPS here.
- How do the Siting GAAMPS apply to my farm? New and expanding farms can apply for protection under the Right to Farm Act by submitting a sitting application for review. We can help you determine the best location for new or expanding farms. We will help you determine the correct setback distances from neighbors, discuss possible odor reducing options, and help to ensure that your investment in the expansion is in compliance with state guidelines. Find links to the GAAMPS and a siting checklist here.
- What is MAEAP Verification? With a completed CNMP, farms can apply for Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP, pronounced “meep”) verification. MAEAP verification is a comprehensive, voluntary, proactive program is designed to reduce farmers’ legal and environmental risks through a three-phase process: 1) education; 2) farm-specific risk assessment; and 3) on-farm verification that ensures the farmer has implemented environmentally sound practices. Learn more about MAEAP here.