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Extension > Agriculture > Livestock > Horse > Horse care and management > Is my barn eco-friendly?

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Is my barn eco-friendly?

Betsy Gilkerson, University of Minnesota Extension

Many livestock owners are concerned about their affect on our environment and natural resources. It doesn't matter what kind of livestock you have. They all can be quite easy on our natural resources like our lakes and streams and forests. However, if the owner isn't careful livestock operations can be quite hard on our resources. Here is a quiz to determine how eco-friendly your livestock operation is.

Livestock exclusion (3 points)

Are your animals fenced 30-100 feet from ALL sensitive water features such as; well heads, creeks, streams, lakes, wetlands? (Ideally, they should also be kept off septic systems to prevent compaction and damage to the system.)

Is the area between the animals and the water feature maintained in good vegetative cover like tall grass, not weeds? Trees and brush along surface water is encouraged.

Nutrient management (3 points)

Is your animal's manure stored at least 150 feet from a sensitive water feature?

Is the manure stored on a cement pad or compacted clay, or removed and relocated semi-annually?

Is the manure utilized to prevent Phosphorus levels from getting too high?

Do you follow a manure management plan?

If you fertilize your lawn, are you using Phosphorus free fertilizer and keeping it away from sensitive water features? This includes driveways and roads.

Clean water (2 points)

Is clean water from the roof or the surrounding area directed away from the manure pile and bare ground?

Is the stormwater from your property collected so it can infiltrate into the ground? This helps recharge our ground water.

Erosion control (2 points)

Are gullies on your property stabilized and controlled?

Is the amount of bare soil on the property minimized, possibly through pasture management?

Is the runoff from bare areas, including arenas, driveways and parking lots, filtered with a filter strip?

Chemical safety (2 points)

Do you follow the instructions on labels for dilution rates, application rates and storage for all hazardous chemicals like gasoline, pesticides, and fertilizers?

Do you dispose of these chemicals according to their labels? Y/N. Do you follow University of Minnesota guidelines for applying pesticides and fertilizers? This includes following setback guidelines and ways to avoid spray drift.

Wildlife habitat management (2 points)

Are noxious weeds and non-native invasive plants controlled on the property? We are required by state law to control noxious weeds like Canada thistle, Bill thistle, and purple loosestrife.

Bonus question (5 points)

Do you plant native plants whenever possible?

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