Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Agricultural Performance Standards and Manure Management (Chapter 49)

The Chapter 49: Agricultural Performance Standards and Manure Management of the Dane County Code of Ordinances (PDF) addresses manure management and agricultural performance standards with a goal of protecting human health and safety as well as protecting surface water and groundwater resources.  Chapter 49 replaces Subchapter 1 of Chapter 14 for manure management and is in effect as of July 1, 2019.

Land Conservation Division staff are available to provide planning assistance, technical services and evaluate funding opportunities for landowners looking to install conservation practices to address resource concerns on their land and meet the state agricultural performance standards and prohibitions. Contact our office to discuss your projects and ideas. 

The tabs below highlight the major requirements under the ordinance and provide resources to help with compliance.



Agricultural Performance Standards and Prohibitions

Chapter 49 incorporates Wisconsin’s state agricultural performance standards and prohibitions outlined in Chapter NR 151, Wisconsin Administrative Code.  These are statewide standards that require all cropland and livestock operations meet to address water quality concerns.  In some cases, cost-share assistance may be required to assist with the implementation of conservation practices to meet the performance standards and prohibitions.

Agricultural Performance Standards:

  • Sheet, rill and wind erosion: All cropped fields shall meet the tolerable (T) soil erosion rate established for that soil.
  • Tillage setback: No tillage operations may be conducted within 5 feet of the top of the channel of surface waters.
  • Phosphorus index: Croplands, pastures, and winter grazing areas shall average a phosphorus index of 6 or less over the accounting period and may not exceed a phosphorus index of 12 in any individual year within the accounting period.
  • Manure storage facilities: All new, substantially altered, or abandoned manure storage facilities shall be constructed, maintained or closed in accordance with accepted standards. Failing and leaking existing facilities posing an imminent threat to public health or fish and aquatic life or violate groundwater standards shall be upgraded or replaced.
  • Process wastewater handling: There may be no significant discharge of process wastewater to waters of the state.
  • Clean water diversions: Runoff from agricultural buildings and fields shall be diverted away from contacting feedlots, manure storage areas and barnyards located within water quality management areas (300 feet from a stream or 1,000 feet from a lake or areas susceptible to groundwater contamination).
  • Nutrient management: Agricultural operations applying nutrients to agricultural fields shall do so according to a nutrient management plan.

Manure Management Prohibitions:

  • No overflow of manure storage facilities.
  • No unconfined manure piles in a water quality management area.
  • No direct runoff from feedlots or stored manure into state waters.
  • No unlimited livestock access to waters of the state in locations where high concentrations of animals prevent the maintenance of adequate or self–sustaining vegetative cover.

Learn more in this factsheet (PDF).

These standards are also the basis for compliance with the Farmland Preservation Program, a tax credit program available to landowners who meet certain eligibility requirements and meet the performance standards and prohibitions. Though, cost-share funding is not required for Farmland Preservation Program participants since they receive funds annually through their taxes.


Manure Storage Permits

If building a new storage or modifying an existing storage, a permit is required prior to construction.  Permits cover both construction, operation and maintenance through the designed life expectancy of the storage which is 20 years.

Learn more about manure storage facility permits in this factsheet (PDF).

Submit Permit or Plan

Certificate of Use for Manure Storage Facilities

A certificate of use is an authorization provided by the department that allows a producer to use an unpermitted manure storage facility or a facility with an expired permit.  The certificate ensures the storage is being operated and maintained in accordance with the performance standards and prohibitions.

Learn more about manure storage certificate of use in this factsheet (PDF).

Submit Permit or Plan

Manure Storage Facility Closure

Manure storage facilities have been used for decades to store manure when conditions make it challenging to apply it to fields. These facilities may hold anywhere from a few days to many months worth of manure.  Some manure storage facilities were constructed before technical standards and permits were required and some after.  All facilities have a general life expectancy which can vary depending on the construction, operation, management and maintenance of the facility over time.  Permits are required to close an existing manure storage facility to ensure it is done properly.

Submit Permit or Plan


Nutrient Mangement

Nutrient management involves planning for the nutrients and soil amendments to grow crops in an economical and productive fashion while minimizing the risk of agricultural nonpoint source pollution to surface waters and groundwater resources.  

A nutrient management plan is developed to help producers evaluate and implement:

  • The right amounts and rates of nutrient and soil amendments needed.
  • The sources of the nutrients and soil amendments.
  • The methods of application and placement of nutrient and soil amendments to cropland.
  • The timing of when nutrients and soil amendments are applied to cropland.

A nutrient management plan includes information such as:

  • Soil test reports
  • Manure inventory
  • Nutrient crediting
  • Manure and commercial nutrient spreading plan
  • Conservation plan
  • Field and restriction maps
  • Winter spreading plan (if needed)

All producers who apply nutrients to cropland are required to have a nutrient management plan.  The Snap Plus Nutrient Management Software, developed by the University of Wisconsin, is a free program available to aid in the development of a nutrient management plan.

Annual updates are due June 1st.

Submit Permit or Plan




Winter Spreading Permits

Chapter 49 requires producers who plan to spread solid or liquid manure during frozen or snow-covered conditions to obtain a winter spreading permit.  The purpose of the winter spreading permit is to ensure that land applications of solid and liquid manure are done at the right time, place, and rate of application to reduce the risk of runoff.  A winter spreading permit includes the following:

  • A winter spreading plan with maps showing restriction areas, information on manure application rates and timing, and practices that will be implemented to minimize the risk of runoff. 
  • An emergency response plan with contacts for contractors, farm staff, and agency staff, location of necessary equipment.
  • Manure spreading logs to track dates, locations, and rates of manure application.
Note that Winter Spreading fees are waived if a nutrient management plan meeting NRCS 590 (dated 12/2015) is submitted as an electronic SNAP Plus database and SNAP Maps digital shapefile. 

Annual updates are due October 15th.

Submit Permit or Plan


Learn more about winter spreading permits in this factsheet (PDF).