Iowa DNR approves Supreme Beef nutrient management plan

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By Audrey Posten, Times- Register


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved a nutrient management plan (NMP) for the Supreme Beef, LLC open feedlot operation near Monona, but with the removal of two manure application fields and an emphasis on several application requirements.


The decision from the DNR’s Field Office 1 in Manchester came April 2, a month after the DNR held a virtual public meeting to gather input on the plan. 


According to Kelli Book, with the Iowa DNR’s Legal Services Bureau, any open feedlot with a capacity of 1,000 animals or more is required to submit a nutrient management plan. The NMP is a tool producers use to manage their feedlot’s manure and processed waste water. It matches up the nutrient value of the manure with fertilization of crops and, when properly developed and used, can prevent over-application of manure, she stated.


The Supreme Beef operation is located along U.S. Highway 18/52, at the same site as the once-proposed Walz Energy facility, a cattle feedlot and biogas operation that, with the use of anaerobic digesters, planned to turn manure from 10,000 cattle into natural gas. 


Now, instead of converting the manure to energy, Supreme Beef proposes applying it to properties in Giard, Farmersburg, Wagner, Grand Meadow, Lodomillo, Monona, Read and Franklin townships in Clayton and Allamakee counties. The NMP listed over 40 fields for manure application.


The open feedlot operation would have the capacity for 11,600 animal units. A lagoon has been constructed to hold the more than 30 millions gallons of manure the animals are projected to produce annually, until it can be applied to land.


This is the second time since last fall that Supreme Beef has submitted an NMP. In October, following another virtual public meeting, the DNR approved a revised NMP, but with a reduction in the number of animals at the site and removal of multiple manure application fields. Supreme Beef submitted its latest NMP in February.


The determination before the DNR did not involve approving or denying the actual facility nor any of its structures, but rather if the NMP was submitted in accordance with DNR rules and the procedures provided in those rules, and whether or not the plan complied with the provisions of the rules.


In the April NMP approval letter to Supreme Beef, Joe Sanfilippo, environmental program supervisor at the DNR’s Field Office 1, said, “As a result of DNR’s review of the NMP and public comments received, it was noted that portions of the NMP needed further clarification. We received clarification on those points and the response was found to be acceptable. The NMP has been reviewed and DNR is accepting the NMP at this time with the following requirements and expectations.”


That includes removing two Giard fields from the plan. Supreme Beef must also re-run the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2), which is used to generate the phosphorous index in the plan, and update the plan prior to any manure application on another field. The Iowa phosphorous index is an assessment tool for the purpose of evaluating the potential of off-site phosphorus movement when manure is applied.


“DNR understands that manure nutrient content analysis will be obtained from the manure storage basin and the NMP will be updated if necessary prior to land application activities. As a reminder, the results of the manure analysis and a current NMP must be available onsite for review by DNR staff,” the approval letter added.


The letter said the original NMP also used soil sampling data that does not meet requirements. A corrected NMP, including the recalculated RUSLE2 calculations, phosphorus index and soil analyses, must be submitted to DNR Field Office 1 by Feb. 1, 2022.


“We wish to remind you that you must comply with all requirements for land application of manure, including the applicable separation distances,” Sanfilippo said in the approval letter. “You are also required to maintain detailed records of actual manure applications for both solid and liquid manure as well as any changes made to your current NMP. Records from this facility must be maintained for five years.”


Since the open feedlot will house 1,000 cattle or more, it would also require an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit for any discharge to a water of the state. Sanfilippo said a discharge can include manure, manure laden runoff or process wastewater—such as runoff from bedding, feed stuffs or compost areas—that would reach surface waters. A discharge can occur from the facility or from manure application if it results in manure runoff to a water of the state.


DNR Field Office 1 will continue to oversee the compliance and operation of the facility and its structures.


With the approval of the NMP, Brian Jergenson, environmental specialist senior with Field Office 1, said, from an animal feeding operations standpoint, there are no further submittals or approvals needed to populate animals.

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