Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Waste Management

Since the late 1980s, animal agriculture in Texas has experienced a shift from small animal feeding operations (AFOs) to highly concentrated confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that can produce large amounts of animal wastes as byproducts. These wastes include liquid and solid manure, process-generated wastewater, spilled feed, bedding materials, and mortality.

txwastem1.jpgCurrently, land application of animal wastes to supply nutrients for plant growth or as an organic amendment to the soil is the most common practice for utilizing these materials. When managed and applied properly, they can be an excellent source of all essential plant nutrients. The added organic matter from manure helps promote soil aggregation and increases soil structure, water holding capacity, plant available water, aeration, water infiltration, and nutrient cycling. All of these promote plant growth and reduce soil erosion. Composts from animal manures also are used in gardens and nursery potting mixes.

However, repeated application of animal manure in quantities greater than recommended rates and accidental spills from waste holding structures can result in degradation of water resources. Research is underway and policy is being developed to address the results of changing meat, milk, and egg production practices. Final EPA CAFO rules are available for review.

Conditions in Your Watershed

There are numerous water body segments in Texas that are on the 303d list (a biannually updated inventory of impaired streams and water bodies according to section 303d of the Clean Water Act) because of pathogen or nutrient impairment possibly associated with animal production. Water bodies unable to perform any one or all of their designated uses are considered impaired and Texas must develop a TMDL for improving the condition of those water bodies.

CAFO discharges are regulated by the Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. For a list of regulated facilities in your watershed, click on Texas from the previous page and then click on your county. Next, click on the EPA Waters link in the bottom window and then click on the yellow map in the resulting page. Finally, scroll down the page and select Water Dischargers.

Resources and Programs

The Texas A&M University System provides research, education and extension resources to assist state and federal agencies, businesses and industries, communities and individual citizens in addressing water quality concerns. These programs are designed to provide information for specific audiences, such as agricultural producers, homeowners and youth.

Texas A&M University has established programs designed to provide waste management assistance. Below are some key links to information and resources available to assist you.

Extension Outreach

txwastem2.jpgThe Texas Cooperative Extension develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Outreach education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner or agricultural producer. Some of the major Extension education programs addressing waste management are:

Programs addressing livestock waste management target beef, dairy and poultry production systems in the High Plains, Cross Timbers and East Texas land resource regions of Texas. Marketing Composted Manure is an innovative project designed to facilitate distribution and effective use of dairy manure (as compost) outside a nutrient impaired watershed. Compost use for forage and row crop production, and as a soil amendment in construction and landscape management are potential applications.

Texas Cooperative Extension served as a lead agency in the Upper North Bosque River Project and the Lake Fork Creek Project. Rivers and creeks in these watersheds flow through high density dairy production regions and had been identified as water quality problem areas where nonpoint sources contribute to excess loadings of nutrients and fecal coliform bacteria. The objectives of the projects were to achieve rapid, voluntary adoption of best management practices and systems by agricultural producers and other citizens to significantly reduce the potential for pollution of surface and ground water.

Many Texas Cooperative Extension publications about animal waste best management practices are available through the Texas Animal Manure Management Issues website, an excellent source of information regarding animal waste regulations, research, and management techniques.

The Feedyard Manure Management Handbook has been prepared by Texas Cooperative Extension for feedyard managers, manure haulers, and producers utilizing feedyard manure as a crop nutrient source.

The Poultry Waste Management Handbook has been prepared by the Texas Cooperative Extension Service for poultry producers utilizing dry litter management systems.

The Dairy Waste Management Handbook for the East Texas Dairy Outreach Program Area (DOPA) and Central Texas DOPA has been developed by Texas Cooperative Extension to meet the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) 8 hr training required of every CAFO dairy operator in the eight county area (Central Texas DOPA: Bosque, Comanche, Erath, Hamilton and Johnson Counties. East Texas DOPA: Hopkins, Rains and Wood Counties). These handbooks are also applicable to other dairy producers throughout the state, but concentrate on major dairying systems and cropping systems in these areas. The handbook focuses on nutrient management, odor management, manure management, and dietary management as they relate to air and water quality, dairy cow performance, and cropping systems. Distributions of all the handbooks are coordinated through Ms. Missy Vajdak, h-vajdak@tamu.edu and 979-862-3796.

Links to other waste management publications produced by Texas Cooperative Extension are available.

Texas Cooperative Extension, in cooperation with TCEQ and the Texas Department of Agriculture, conducts regional waste pesticide collections as part of the Agricultural Waste Pesticide Collection Program. The collections provide agricultural producers who apply pesticides in Texas with an opportunity to dispose of unwanted products at no expense and with no questions asked. The program is strictly voluntary and no one is required to participate. This program also accepts household hazardous wastes.

Scientific Research

Scientific research is the basis for development of new technologies to improve waste management. Researchers at Land Grant Universities work to develop these new technologies and evaluate their economic benefits. The Texas Agricultural Research Database has information about waste management research in Texas. The database allows you to browse or search, and researchers can submit their information online. The Texas Water Resources Institute also provides links to water-related research funded through the Institute. Some examples of major research efforts in Texas include:

Watershed Projects

Nutrient Management Projects

A table of links to other animal waste research projects is available at the Texas Animal Manure Management Issues Research page maintained by Texas A&M University. The page links to summaries of animal waste research projects conducted at the various campuses of the Texas A&M University System.

Bacterial source tracking to identify nonpoint human and animal sources of fecal pollution impacting Lake Waco and Lake Belton and to facilitate proactive development of water quality protection strategies is being conducted by the Texas A&M El Paso Research and Extension Center.

College and University Education

Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in waste management are available within several departments at Texas A&M University. Graduate and undergraduate programs in key departments include:

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