A new workbook is available from the University of Illinois to help you wade through the mire of mangaging manure.

The Illinois Manure Management Plan Workbook is a user-friendly resource that takes you step-by-step through the development of a manure management plan to comply with Illinois regulations. University of Illinois Extension specialists Randy Fonner and Ted Funk, developed the resource.

The 1996 Illinois Livestock Management Facilities Act requires livestock producers with more than 300 animal units to receive training in manure management protocols. Producers with more than 1,000 animal units must have a written manure management plan and submit a form certifying the existence and location of their plan. Producers with more than 5,000 animal units must have their management plan approved by the state.

Step one in the workbook lists all of the information that you need to complete a plan. Subsequent steps detail specific sections of the regulations and include a sample form to help complete that step. The workbook also provides instructions on filling out the forms, tips to help you organize information in a separate three-ring binder and suggestions on when and how to update the plan. An extensive appendix offers additional information relevant to livestock management.

Once you've gathered all the information required in step one, Fonner believes anyone can walk through the process in four to six hours.

"Just remember," he emphasizes, "everything must be in writing. You must show your calculations and you have to justify your numbers. If you say your yield is 300 bushels of corn per acre, then you better be able to prove it."

Once you complete your plan, most of the data entry is done. "The hardest part then may be keeping track of you're actions during the year and having those notes available when you do your update," says Fonner.

Keeping your plan updated is crucial. For example, you are required to show a four-year crop rotation. But what if you change their minds? "Account for those changes in your update," says Fonner.

The workbook is designed for use with or without a computer. The package that you will receive includes a CD that has a copy of the manual and copies of the Excel spreadsheets used in the manual. You can find more information at www.livestocktraining.com.

If you want more hands-on training, workshops will be held around the state 10 to 12 times a year. Because the program is intense, only four or five producers attend each workshop. Attendees are given two- to three-weeks' notice to compile their records, then they work with instructors to design the management plan.

The Illinois Manure Management Workbook is available for $45 plus postage. YOu can order it through the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences marketing and distribution office at (800) 345-6087.

University of Illinois