Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

What Does an NPDES CAFO Permit Require?

NOTE: These pages contain general information on the types of requirements that are included in NPDES permits issued to CAFOs. You must read the specific requirements in the NPDES permit issued to your CAFO to know exactly what you must do to comply.

Land Application Requirements

NPDES permits for CAFOs establish requirements regarding land application of CAFO-generated manure and wastewater. These include specific technical requirements that address the following:

  • The basis and data to be used for developing the nutrient budget
  • Specific procedures for conducting manure and soil characterizations, including requirements for sampling and analysis and soil test methods to be used in developing appropriate manure application rates
  • The technical basis for determining land application methods and manure application rates that minimize nutrient runoff, including specific considerations for selecting the nutrient basis for application rates

The land application requirements of an NPDES CAFO permit also include land application restrictions, including setbacks, criteria, and prohibitions.

  • Setbacks specify distances from various water and land features to be followed when land-applying and stockpiling manure. The setbacks range from 100 feet to 300 feet.
  • Criteria establish conditions that must be met to land-apply under certain circumstances. For example, to apply manure on fields with soil cracks greater than 6 inches deep, the soil must be tilled first.
  • An NPDES CAFO permit also describes circumstances under which land application is prohibited. For example, manure may not be applied within the emergency management zone of a surface public water system.

The land application restrictions also specify considerations for determining the appropriate timing, location, and methods for land application of manure, including considerations for soil types and field conditions, weather conditions and seasonal considerations, location of subsurface tile drains, and the like.  Part VII of individual permits [PDF 113K] contain the standard language CAFOs must comply with.