Environmental Benefits and Impacts

Benefits

Fertilizer

The animals raised in confined feeding operations produce manure and wastewater that is collected and stored in pits, tanks, lagoons, and other storage devices. Most farmers apply the manure to area fields as fertilizer. When stored and applied properly, this beneficial reuse provides a natural source of nutrients for crop production. It also lessens the need for fuel and other resources that are used in the production of commercial fertilizer.

Energy

Waste digesters, which collect manure, biomass, or other appropriate feedstock, convert the energy stored in its organic matter into methane, which is used to produce energy (gas or electricity) for on-farm or off-farm use. In addition to producing renewable energy, waste digesters can improve air quality by reducing odors and greenhouse gas emissions and protect water quality by reducing the potential for pathogens to enter surface water or ground water.

Impacts

Potential for Water Contamination

If manure is improperly applied to the land, or if it leaks or spills from storage areas or during transport, it is possible that storm water could come in contact with the manure, carry contaminants to surface or ground water, and impair its quality. Indiana’s Confined Feeding Program is intended to protect water quality by providing an oversight process to ensure waste storage structures are designed, constructed, and maintained to be structurally sound and that manure is handled and land applied in an environmentally acceptable manner.

Odors

Sometimes odors from livestock and poultry farms are an issue for nearby neighbors. IDEM does not regulate odors from farms. The agency provides farmers with guidance on best management practices to reduce odors. IDEM does have a separate permitting process for waste digesters, which can use manure as a feedstock and may be located at a farm. Waste digesters can improve air quality by reducing odors. IDEM monitors and inspects those facilities on a regular basis.