Western Iowa Livestock External Stewardship Pilot Project
Laying The Groundwork for a Future of Effective Nutrient Management
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Natural Resources
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Iowa State University
University Extension

Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 Introduction and Background	5
CHAPTER 2 Building a Model for Meat Industry Stewardship Projects	12
CHAPTER 3 Project Results	22
CHAPTER 4 Recommendations	39
APPENDIX 1 Methodology for Estimating Soil and Phosphorus Losses	46
APPENDIX 2 Project Participants and Plan	48

This report was developed by the participants in the Western Iowa Livestock External
Stewardship Pilot Project. Mention of a particular company, trade name, or commercial
product does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use. Views expressed
represent those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),
Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Farmland Foods, or
Prestage-Stoecker Farms.
The Sector Strategies
This project was sponsored by the Sector Strategies Program, part of EPA's National
Center for Environmental Innovation. The Sector Strategies Program works with 12
major industrial and service sectors, including the Agribusiness Sector. The program
fosters collaborative working relationships among stakeholders in government, business,
and other interested groups. The aim of these sector partnerships is to achieve better
environmental performance with less regulatory burden. For more information on the
Sector Strategies Program, visit, or contact Roger Holtorf,
National Program Leader for the Agribusiness Sector, at 202-566-2962 or via e-mail at
Photos courtesy of Iowa State University, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and USDA-NRCS.

Executive Summary
The Western Iowa Livestock External Stewardship Pilot Project (WILESPP) was
undertaken to test whether the livestock industry, working together with state
and federal agencies and producers, could design, implement, measure, and
document voluntary environmental stewardship. The project emphasizes consultation,
cooperation, and communication among meat processors, livestock producers, and
government officials. These stakeholders worked together to share their collective
environmental stewardship expertise, systematically develop and implement
comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs), and measure and document
In some circles, it has been
surmised that the short-term
costs to farmers of
implementing proven
conservation practices and
nutrient management techniques
have been a barrier to their
voluntary adoption, despite the
long-term benefits to the
sustainable productivity of their
land. The WILESPP project
shows that these costs can be reduced, and both the short-term and long-term benefits
outweigh these costs. The WILESPP team, comprising government, industry, and
academic representatives, concluded that their approach is not only a cost-effective,
feasible complement to a regulatory approach, but in many ways is superior in its ability
to promote environmental stewardship beyond current regulatory requirements.

This project report describes the key features of the WILESPP and demonstrates that:
¦	Voluntary approaches are a viable complement to regulatory options and
produce real environmental benefits,
¦	Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) are cost-effective to
implement for many producers,
¦	The processor - producer working relationship has value to both processors and
producers, and
¦	The multi-stakeholder approach increases the benefits and lowers the costs for
all involved.
Photo fry Angie Rieck-Hinz, ISJJ
Beef feedlot
In addition to demonstrating an effective approach to encouraging voluntary
environmental stewardship by livestock producers, the WILESPP highlighted the need
for improvements in three related areas:: efficiency, communication, and performance

¦	Improved efficiency, or streamlined CNMP development, while still providing
site-specific technical assistance that meets technical standards, is driven by the
need to develop a large number of CNMPs in a short period of time.
¦	Improved communication will be needed to convey the benefits of CNMPs in
order to encourage more producers to voluntarily improve their performance.
¦	Finally, an improved means of quickly, but accurately, predicting the costs and
benefits of voluntary conservation planning will be necessary to inform all
potential stakeholders, especially livestock producers.
The WILESPP continues with all of the original participating producers now
implementing their CNMPs according to accepted standards, making changes to their
practices, and beginning to realize the economic and environmental benefits of doing so.
This project can serve as a model for similar stewardship programs throughout the
United States.


Introduction and Background
This report presents the findings of the Western Iowa Livestock External
Stewardship Pilot Project (WILESPP). This unique industry-government
collaboration has been in place for the last two years. The first year of the pilot
project consisted primarily of recruiting livestock producers, collecting background
information, developing Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMPs) for
participating farms, and documenting the resource requirements. After the first year of
activity, a mid-term progress report was written in January 2003. The mid-term report
described the first year's progress and lessons learned. It summarized the preliminary
results based on the fairly limited data that were available at that time. During the
second year of the project, the remainder of the CNMPs were developed, additional data
were collected from the participating producers, CNMP implementation began, and all
involved with the development of the management plans reported on their experiences
and resources expended. In addition, the environmental impact of the project was
estimated by modeling the baseline and new conditions at each participating farm. This
final report summarizes the activities and results of the past two years and provides
recommendations that can be used to guide future voluntary programs addressing
nutrient management by livestock producers.

Common Concerns
Over the past 30 years, legislation and regulations limiting discharges of pollutants from
industrial point sources have accomplished a great deal. There are now over 200,000
permitted point sources with discharge limits under the Clean Water Act. However, the
legal focus of the nation's efforts to clean up our surface water and groundwater supplies
is shifting. With the ongoing reductions in point sources of pollutants, non-point
sources have now become a priority for improving water quality. Incremental releases of
pollutants over wide areas within a watershed can have significant environmental
impacts. Historically, voluntary efforts by agricultural producers have helped to maintain
valuable soil and water quality, yet agricultural run-off is still one of the largest
contributors to non-point source pollution, and as such, has become a top priority of
both state and federal environmental protection agencies.
Within the agriculture sector, animal feeding operations (AFOs) have been identified as
significant contributors to non-point source pollution of surface water and groundwater.
While the animal manure from feeding operations is a valuable nutrient when properly
applied to feed and forage crop fields, it can also end up in surface and ground water
when improperly or overly applied, or when mismanaged. When large quantities of
animal manure are generated in relatively small areas, it becomes more likely that manure
and the associated biological oxygen demand (BOD), suspended solids, phosphorus,
nitrates, fecal coliform, and other pollutants, will impair water resources.
EPA has developed guidelines that require the largest AFOs (commonly referred to as
concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs) to have operating permits reviewed
and approved. Proposed permit requirements cover the implementation of specific
management practices and discharge limits aimed at reducing environmental impacts. In
addition to these EPA guidelines, many states have implemented their own rules and
regulations covering a wide range of livestock and poultry operations.

Topsoil erosion is another non-point source of surface water pollution from the agricultural
sector. While not specifically regulated like manure nutrients, soil erosion can be costly to
farmers and the resultant sediment can be costly to the general public. Efforts to prevent soil
erosion generally go hand-in-hand with nutrient management efforts. By and large, the
conservation practices that keep topsoil on the farms also keep nutrients in place. Loss of
topsoil reduces the land's ability to hold plant-available water and to provide nutrients to plant
roots while also polluting water resources with sediment. According to a 1998 Technical
Note by NRCS, erosion-caused losses of productivity on cropland and pastureland in the U.S.
are about $27 billion per year. The off-site environmental costs of soil erosion account for an
additional $17 billion per year.
Comprehensive NutrimtMmMgmimtPkmnmg
The WILESPP aims to demonstrate that the livestock industry, working together with state
and federal agencies and producers, can design, implement, measure, and document voluntary
environmental stewardship. The project emphasizes consultation, cooperation, and
communication — meat processors and government officials share their environmental
stewardship expertise with livestock producers — to systematically develop and implement
nutrient management plans, and to measure and document results. In that WILESPP
achieved these goals, it may be a model for similar stewardship programs throughout the U.S.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USD A) Natural Resources Conservation Service
(NRCS) has developed a broad conservation planning approach for minimizing the adverse
impacts of animal feeding operations on water quality. This approach is called
Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning (CNMP). The CNMP Technical Guidance
in Part 600.5 of NRCS's National Planning Procedures Handbook identifies management
activities and conservation systems to minimize water quality impairment from animal feeding
facilities and the land application of manure and wastewater (see box). Comprehensive
Nutrient Management Planning was developed to help the modern livestock producer
voluntarily develop sustainable and environmentally sound conservation plans. Many within
the livestock production industry feel that CNMPs allow producers more flexibility to achieve
a high level of environmental protection than regulatory requirements. Furthermore, the use
of CNMPs may result in financial benefits to producers by ensuring adequate soil fertility

while optimizing the nutrients
deployed in crop production.
In addition, in some areas,
CNMPs can qualify livestock
producers for reductions in
liability insurance premiums.
As a result, the WILESPP
team felt that implementation
of CNMPs by livestock
producers would be an ideal
means for demonstrating
voluntary environmental
Despite the general
agreement that CNMPs can
benefit both livestock
producers and water quality,
many questions remain. Are
operators of animal feeding
operations (especially
independent, non-contract
producers) willing to embrace
the CNMP Guidelines? If
so, are CNMPs prohibitively
expensive and resource
intensive? Could the main
customers of animal feeding
operations (meat
offer their resources and
expertise to assist animal
What Is a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan
A CNMP is a site-specific conservation plan that addresses soil
and water resource concerns at animal feeding operations. Each
plan requires a thorough, site-specific review of the farmstead
and areas where manure will be applied and sets forth a plan to
ensure that manure and wastewater are properly stored and
handled, that stormwater remains clear or is captured, and that
soil and water quality meet the criteria set forth by the NRCS
Field Office Technical Guide. The plan may include
information on feed management and other considerations.
Nutrients enter a producer's farm as feed and fertilizer and exit
mainly in the livestock, manure, erosion and other products and
byproducts of the operation. A comprehensive and well-written
conservation plan uses systems of conservation practices to
minimize releases of nutrients to the environment as they move
through an animal feeding operation. An effective CNMP
requires a good understanding of the quantity and behavior of
nutrients in soils, manure, and fertilizer. A CNMP also requires
careful documentation and encourages the producer to think
through the various facets of nutrient management. As defined
by Part 600.5 of the USDA National Planning Procedures
Handbook, CNMPs should, at a minimum, follow NRCS
conservation practice standards and specifications and must
include the following:
¦	Documentation of the animal feeding operation
owners'/operators' consideration of the six CNMP
¦	Manure and Wastewater Handling and Storage
¦	Land Treatment Practices
¦	Nutrient Management
¦	Record Keeping
¦	Feed Management
¦	Other Utilization Activities
A CNMP may not always address all six elements; however,
each element needs to be considered by the operator during
development of the CNMP, and the operator's decisions
regarding each must be documented. The first four
elements are required in order to have a CNMP.
¦	A description of specific activities that affect water quality at
the facility's crop production area and that affect the land
on which the manure and organic by-products are applied.
Such activities usually include addressing soil erosion to
reduce nutrient transport within or off the land.
While CNMPs will not immediately eliminate environmental
impacts at AFOs, they are an important step in that direction.
The environmental stewardship process is a journey, not a
destination. CNMPs are multi-year, facility-specific, and allow
for flexible and innovative solutions. A thorough, certified
CNMP leads to a higher level of awareness of the environmental
impacts of each management decision.

feeding operations in implementing CNMPs and providing a more sustainable "gate-to-
plate" system? Can these same customers team with government to provide technical
assistance of value to the producers? What are the best mechanisms for achieving results
for the producers? How can the results be measured? Knowing the answers to these
questions will be critical for informing policy-makers at the state and federal level when
they consider appropriate measures for reducing the environmental impacts from animal
feeding operations.
Seeking Solutions
EPA's Sector Strategies Program set the stage for the development of the WILESPP in
Omaha, Nebraska on May 5, 2000 when it convened the first of a series of meetings with
meat processing industry stakeholders to discuss alternative, non-regulatory methods for
environmental protection. Representatives from the meat processing industry, state and
federal agencies, and other interested stakeholders agreed to work together to develop
and test new policies that could lead to cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient
environmental protection by government and the meat industry. In the summer ot
2001, a coalition of forward-thinking meat processing firms conceived of and initiated
the WILESPP with cattle and hog producers in western Iowa. The coalition formed a
council of active
stakeholders to steer
the project and to
ensure its smooth

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son. NRCS
The council of project
recognized the
opportunity for meat
processors, along with
federal and state agencies, to bring their collective resources together in a way that could
benefit both the environment and livestock producers. Many livestock producers are
small family-owned and managed businesses. Historically, they have not been highly

regulated. In contrast, many meat processors are larger businesses with greater resources
that enable them to take a leadership role in developing standards of environmental
performance for their industry, as well as other industries in their supply chain. Most
meat processors are subject to environmental requirements aimed at protecting air and
water quality. Many are also proactive in going beyond their regulatory requirements by
establishing pollution prevention programs and participating in local, state, and national
recognition and award opportunities.
A key feature of the WILESPP is the active involvement of the meat processing
companies with the livestock producers to assist them with their environmental
stewardship efforts. This participation is critical for a number of reasons. First, the
livestock producers have a genuine need for the knowledge and technical assistance that
the meat processing companies can share with them. Second, this assistance is coming
from a familiar and trusted source. Many of the livestock producers are contracted by
the processing companies to supply their livestock and work closely with the companies
to maintain a successful business relationship. Finally, the active involvement and
encouragement of the meat processors serve to reinforce the importance of the project's
objectives, remind the producers of the environmental impacts of their actions, and
moves the entire industry towards improved environmental performance.
Agitating manure in earthen pit
Photo bv iUNIt

Meat processors also have a business incentive for providing environmental assistance to
their suppliers. A working relationship between processors and their contracted
producers is not new. Meat processing companies have been providing technical
assistance to their livestock producers for many years in order to ensure a reliable supply
of high quality livestock. Environmental considerations have increasingly become an
important part of this assistance. Processing companies do not want their environmental
reputation with the public and regulators to be damaged by the poor environmental
performance of one of their suppliers. For example, poor community relations of a
livestock producer due to odors, enforcement or civil actions associated with
catastrophic releases, or other environmental noncompliance would reflect poorly on the
meat processing company with whom they do business.
Meat processors must ensure a steady supply of high quality livestock to their processing
plants. Disruptions in this supply can have serious financial impacts on the company.
Without assistance to producers, the costs of complying with increasing environmental
regulations or fines for noncompliance could increase the risk that small- and medium-
sized livestock producers will leave the business, thus reducing available supply. Food
safety and security is also an important concern to the industry. Because animal health
and quality are a function of the environmental conditions at production facilities,
processors want to ensure a healthy environment and secure conditions at production


Building a Model for Meat
Industry Stewardship
The process for launching the WILESPP merits description because one of the
goals of the pilot project is to determine the feasibility of replicating it on the
state or national level. In fact, the process and lessons learned while developing
the project are some of the more important findings and were first presented in the
project mid-term report. These findings are repeated here and cover the project
planning, recruitment process, kickoff organizational meeting, and participants' survey.
Developing the Framework, for a Pilot Project
The meeting of industry stakeholders in Omaha, Nebraska in May of 2000 resulted in a
general agreement on environmental priorities for the meat industry. In particular, all
involved agreed that the environmental impacts associated with livestock production,
especially its impacts on surface and groundwater quality, are a challenge that should be a
meat industry priority. Meeting participants also agreed that the industry, EPA, states,
and others should work together to address these priorities. Collaboration, not
confrontation, was the goal.

Meetings held throughout 2000 and early 2001 served as a forum for developing a
general framework for collaboration among stakeholders with varied interests. The Pilot
Project Framework Document established in detail the process by which a project idea
would be developed, proposed, and implemented, how decisions would be made, and
how the project results would be assessed. Within days of finalizing the framework
document, Farmland Foods and Prestage-Stoecker Farms jointly developed the work
plan for the WILESPP.
Establishing the WILESPP
The WILESPP work plan defined the
project objectives, participants, roles,
and a timeline for carrying out each of
the project steps. It set forth the goal:
to demonstrate that voluntary environmental
stewardship by livestock producers can be
defined, documented, and measured. The
project's stated objectives were to:
¦	Create and test a replicable
project and processes that meat
processors can use to work
with livestock producers on the
use of Environmental Best
Management Practices to
address nutrient management
and/or other environmental
issues with the livestock
industry stakeholders.
¦	Measure and evaluate the
environmental and economic
impacts, real and potential, of
this pilot project.
Farmland Foods, Inc.
Farmland Foods, Inc. is participating in this
pilot project as a demonstration of its
corporate commitment to environmental
stewardship. The company has a long-
standing exemplary record of exceeding
expectations in environmental stewardship
in their processing business, and more
recently, in its oversight and compliance
with livestock production. According to
Jerry Lehenbauer, formerly of Farmland
Foods and one of the original WILESPP
team members, "just like producers, this
EMS project at our Denison, Iowa plant
will make Farmland Foods a better steward.
Farmland believes that being a good
steward is the right thing to do. We have a
40-year history of working directly with our
owners, the farmers marketing their
livestock to us, and environmental
stewardship is an extension of that
At the same time this pilot project was
being discussed, rules were being drafted in
Washington, D.C. that indicated livestock
producers and processors could be co-
permitted. Farmland Foods felt that
resources were already available to livestock
producers to achieve environmental
stewardship without more regulatory
oversight, and were willing to demonstrate
the processes in place to achieve this

¦ Determine the feasibility of adopting and replicating a stewardship project for
the meat industry, nationwide.
The work plan
described the
geographic focus — four
counties in western
Iowa,: It also described
how the WILESPP
would use the collective
resources and skills of
the participants to
promote the voluntary
development and
implementation of
resource management
system conservation planning by a variety of livestock production operations. The
project would also document the required resources and lessons learned so the results
could be used on a larger scale (i.e., other states or nationally), and inform policy-makers
when they consider options for reducing the environmental impacts of animal feeding
The project was initially scheduled to begin in September of 2001; however, the events
of September 11th and personnel changes at Farmland Foods during that period resulted
in some delays. The first official organizational kick-off meeting took place on
November 17th, 2001 in Carroll, Iowa. The project's key participants were all present.
The key participants in the WILESPP and their roles are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. WILESPP Key Players and Project Roles
Livestock Producers
Complete Producer Profile and ISU Survey; conduct Qn-
Farm Assessment and Environmental Review (OFAER);
collect soil, manure, and groundwater samples; create
Emergency Action Plan; update conservation plan; assist
with developing CNMP; implement CNMP; maintain
Farmland Foods, Inc. and Prestage-
Stoecker Farms (agribusiness/meat
processing companies)
Project leadership; recruit producers; assist contract
producers with creating emergency action plan; coordinate
OFEAR appointments; assist in the collection of soil,
manure, and groundwater samples; GPS mapping of
livestock sites; collect information needed for CNMPs —
especially for nutrient management.
Iowa State University
Develop Producer Survey; collect pre-pilot survey
information; maintain producer database; assist with
outreach activities; conduct post-pilot survey, evaluate the
survey results and share with producers; assist with
educational materials and producer presentations.
USDA Natural Resource
Conservation Service
Collect information required for CNMPs; assist in
developing and implementing CNMPs and coordinating
planning process with producers; assure that NRCS
planning policy and conservation practice standards are met;
certify conservation plans (which include the CNMP).
Project oversight, logistics, document preparation; recruit
independent producers; assist independent producers with
creating emergency action plan; coordinate OFAER
appointments with independent producers; assist
independent producers in the collection of soil, manure, and
groundwater samples; GPS mapping of independent
livestock sites; collect information needed for CNMP.
Certified Crop Advisors
Review current commercial fertilizer applications, crop
histories, yield data, and tillage practices for each potential
manure application field; assist in providing GPS mapping
data on those fields where grid sampling has been done.
Iowa Department of Natural
Project planning, oversight, mapping and modeling
CNMPs' impacts on soil and phosphorus losses.

RecnatmgLwestock Producers
The project plan called for working with 20
livestock operations: five Farmland Foods
contract operations, five Prestage-Stoecker
contract operations, five independent pork
operations, and five independent beef
operations. This goal was exceeded when 23
feeding operations (owned by 19 producers)
representing both beef and pork producing
enterprises offered to participate.
Recruiting livestock producers to work with
a coalition of industry stakeholders like meat
processors and government agencies did
present some challenges. Although every
producer that was asked to participate in the
WILESPP eventually agreed after the details
of the project were explained, some producers were initially hesitant. The most common
concerns were that the project would increase their cost of business and intrude upon
the way they manage their operations. Flowever, the producers were eager to dispel
negative perceptions of livestock production's impact on the environment and wanted to
demonstrate that voluntary programs can make a difference.
Farmland Foods and Prestage-Stoecker Farms took the lead in recruiting livestock
producers with whom they have contracts to participate in the pilot project. Company
environmental support staff approached the producers either directly, or through other
local industry stakeholders (e.g., cattle brokers, extension personnel, livestock
nutritionists, and crop consultants). The staff explained the project's objectives and
what would be required of the producers, and reassured them that participation would
not be overly burdensome. The contract producers had worked with the meat
processing company environmental staff in the past and, generally, already trusted their
judgment and intentions.
Prestage-Stoecker Farms
Prestage-Stoecker Farms joined as one
of the two meat processing companies
to support the early work of this
project. According to A1 Witt,
Environmental Specialist at Prestage-
Stoecker Farms,
"As members of theframework committee, we
were pleased with the overallplanning and
thought process involved in designing this pilot.
Programs such as this fail when they are
created, directed, mandated with little thought
process. Successfulprograms an generated
from the ground ip by the producers, who are
the closest to the real issues and their solutions.
Wefeel that the pilot encourages a
management mindset andpromotes diligence
on documentation and keeping records.
Prestage-Stoecker is excited about being part
of this unique project."

Technical service providers provided by EPA had the task of recruiting "independent"
livestock producers. Overall, the independent producers required more convincing than
the contract producers did. They wanted details on the Comprehensive Nutrient
Management Planning Guidance, potential government agency involvement, and
confidentiality of conservation plans and operations. Most importantly, local project
leadership, in the form of the county Soil and Water Conservation District
commissioners and NRCS staff, proved critical in recruiting independent producers.
The producers typically knew the individuals and trusted their technical skills and
discretion. In fact, many of the Pilot Project producers had on-going cooperative
agreements for land treatment previously signed with soil and water conservation
During the recruitment phase, recruiters discovered a significant difference between the
level of environmental stewardship awareness between hog producers and cattle
producers. The state of Iowa has one of the most stringent laws addressing hog
producers. Consequently, the hog production business in Iowa has received a great deal
of scrutiny and regulatory pressure since 1994. Iowa hog producers are required to
maintain records and written plans, and Iowa DNR staff regularly visit their farms.
Nutrient management plans have been required for most hog producers since 2001,
whereas the beef production business has not received much regulatory scrutiny until
The project recruited producers from four counties in western Iowa: Carroll, Crawford,
Audubon, and Calhoun (see Figure 1). Western Iowa was chosen for three reasons:
1.	The USDA has multiple technical staff in the Natural Resource Conservation
Service (NRCS) offices in each of the counties in the region.
2.	There are numerous livestock operations in the region.
3.	Farmland Foods and Prestage-Stoecker both have contract farms in the area and
have skilled staff with experience in nutrient management and conservation

Figure 1. Geographic Focus: Four Counties in
Western Iowa
Portions of six watersheds are included within the boundaries of the four selected counties:
¦	Soldier River
¦	Boyer River
¦	West Nishnabotna River
¦	East Nishnabotna River
¦	South Raccoon River
¦	Raccoon River

WILESPP Producer Profile:
Dave Klocke
¦ • hrr^tti sir "ii ii ^
Dave Klocke and family, 2002.
My brother Dennis and I began our partnership in
1981 raising purebred breeding stock and engaging in
crop farming. We built a 1,200-sow unit in 1993. In
1998, we expanded to 2,400 head. We built the unit
with the intent to be responsible pork producers with
high standards. It is important to us to be good
neighbors and good citizens.
We volunteered to be part of the Stewardship Project
to stay ahead of the curve, to be aware of new
regulations, and to demonstrate to EPA that we are
an environmentally sound operation. So far, the
project has shown us that we are doing a good job
from a regulatory standpoint and do not have to
make any major changes.
Regulatory departments need to be educated that
most producers are doing a good job. Unfortunately,
publicity has focused on the practices contrary to the
majority. This program helps reinforce that we are all
working in the same direction. In addition, what is
environmentally friendly is often also economically
Changing to a CNMP will have no short-term effect
on our operations because we've already done grid
sampling and have been applying manure in amounts
consistent with testing. In the long term, however, it
is apparent that we will need more ground to spread
our manure on.
Managing a successful farm operation in the narrow
margin environment we are in requires us to use all of
our assets to their fullest potential. That is why I see
CNMP as a process that helps us manage our
business from both an environmental and an
economic standpoint.
One of the project objectives was to
work with producers with a wide range
of facility sizes, types of livestock, and
awareness of nuteient management
practices. Hie project succeeded in
recruiting a highly varied set of pork and
beef producers, ranging from those that
use intense pasture management for cow
and calf production on highly erodible
lands, to those that have high volume,
concentrated feedlot enterprises
producing harvest-weight livestock. The
operations include:
''Cow/Calf to feeder calves
Replacement breeding heifers
Feeder calves to yearling stockers
Feeder calves to show circuit
Feeder calves to breeding stock
Feeder calves to harvest
Yearling stockers to harvest
Beef ^
'Farrow to wean
Farrow to feeder pig
Pork \ Farrow to harvest
Wean to harvest
^Feeder pig to harvest
The owners of all of the operations
participating in the project are also the
managers . At some of the farms, the
owner and family are the only
employees. At others, there are
numerous seasonal and full-time

Once the 19 producers agreed to
participate, all of the project
partners and participating
producers gathered in Caroll,
Iowa for a kick-off
organizational meeting. During
the meeting, the producers were
informed of the project's history,
what was expected of them, and
more details on QSfMPs. This
kick-off meeting also allowed the
producers to communicate their
needs and concerns to the
project partners and to share
their experiences with other
participating producers. The
project objectives,
accomplishments, and
preliminary results were also
communicated during the course
of the project through two
Iowa State University surveyed
the participating producers at the
start of the project to determine
their existing environmental
attitudes and practices related to
facilities and manure application.
A similar survey was conducted
WILESPP Producer Profile:
Dari'el Nissen
Darrel Nissen, 2002
Darrel Nissen began his beef cow enterprise in 1980i a time
when interest rates and land prices were high and
commodity prices were extremely volatile. He knew that to
develop his life-long interest in cattle production in the hills
of western Iowa, he would need to start fairly small, but
with high quality genetics. With the help of exotic cross
genetics, AI breeding, and a steadfast commitment to being
the best, over the next two decades Darrel built a successful,
satisfying and sustainable beef enterprise. His success is
evident in the numerous awards his cattle have received at
county, state, and national fairs and expositions.
Darrel also realized that in order to maintain the quality of
his brood cows, he needed to maintain good feed supplies,
especially 011 his pastures. Initially, many of his pastures
were small, poor quality, rented parcels not well suited for
corn or soybean production. Over the years, his pasture
sizes increased and now range from 80 to 160 acres, making
it much easier to manage rotational grazing fertilizer and
herbicide application, and fencing. Darrel uses terraces,,
grassed waterways, minimum tillage, and contour planting
throughout the pasture and crop fields that he owns and
rents. Not only do these techniques reduce the amount of
runoff to surface waters, they also have resulted in a marked
improvement in the condition of his cattle.
Despite the obvious care Darrel has taken to maintain his
operations, the CCA visited his farm as part of the
WILESPP and made a few recommendations that benefited
both Darrel's pastures and the water quality in his area. As
a result, Darrel repaired eroded cow pathways; emptied,
cleaned out, and rebuilt catch basins; and then reseeded with
a mix of pasture grasses. These changes will further reduce
erosion and nutrient transport from Darrel's farm. Darrel's
reasons for participating in this pilot project were to learn
about the environmental impacts associated with his
operation and how best to manage these impacts.

by Iowa State University staff as a "post-project" survey to compare results and to
evaluate changes in the producers' behavior and attitude during the span of the project.
The initial participant survey, conducted in early 2002, shows that participants differ
significantly in size, enterprise type, and production technology, as shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Enterprise and Facility Description

Type of Facility1

Size of Enterprise
Ave Max


	Animal Spaces	
Hog Finishing
2,600 5,000
Gestating Sows
1,300 2,400
Farrowing Crates
206 384
850 2,000
Beef Cow
135 400
165 250
370 1,300
1. Facility definitions: CP—Confinement with deep pit or outside slurry storage, CL—Confinement with flush system to a lagoon,
OC=Open concrete lot, OE=Open earthen lot, P= Pasture.
2. The number of facility types do not sum to the number of enterprises responding because some respondents reported more than
one type of facility.


Project Results
"Thisprogram helps reinforce that we are all working in the same direction. In addition, what is
environmentally friendly is often also economically smart. " — Dave Klocke, WILESPP hog
The WILESPP's primary aim is to encourage the voluntary use of proven
conservation practices and nutrient management techniques to reduce the
impacts of non-point source agricultural water pollution. The short-term costs
to farmers of implementing these practices have, in some cases, been a barrier to their
voluntary implementation, despite the long-term benefits to the sustainable productivity
of their land. The WILESPP is showing that these costs can be reduced, and both the
short-term and long-term benefits can outweigh these costs. In achieving the project
objectives, the WILESPP team has concluded that this approach is not only a feasible
complement to regulatory options, but in many ways is superior in its ability to promote
environmental stewardship beyond current regulatory requirements.
This chapter presents the results of efforts to measure and evaluate the environmental,
economic, and operational impacts of the pilot project in the following areas:
¦	Improved Conservation Practices
¦	More Efficient Nutrient Application

¦	Improved Crop Yield
¦	Reduced Soil and Nutrient Runoff to Surface Waters
¦	Return on CNMP Investment
¦	Improved Working Relationships
This chapter also includes a number of quotes from the project participants and
stakeholders that help relay their varied perspectives. Many of the quotes in this report
were collected as part of a survey designed and implemented by Iowa State University as
part of their contribution to the project. Producer anonymity for these quotes is
maintained as part of the Iowa State University's survey protocol.
Improved Coi^servatknt Practices
The flexibility provided to livestock producers by a voluntary program like the
WILESPP leads to better, and more cost effective, results than a traditional regulatory
approach suitable for end-of-pipe sources. The conservation practices promoted by the
WILESPP and CNMP process have been proven highly effective at reducing the
environmental impacts of livestock operations. As part of the process for implementing
the CNMP, the WILESPP participants received an on-farm assessment and
environmental review (OFAER). The OFAER involves an assessment by a certified
third party of the farm's operations and provides recommendations for practices to
protect the environment. The OFAER recommendations and CNMP requirements
result in a conservation plan with specific conservation practices to be implemented on
each farm. While these practices have been used by farmers and promoted by
government and non-government organizations for years, their site-specific nature has
made them difficult to incorporate into regulations and permits. Typical conservation
practices implemented by the WILESPP producers that reduce non-point source water
pollution are shown in Tables 3 and 4.

Table 3. Conservation Practices Already
Implemented and to be Maintained by Producers
Conservation Crop Rotation
4,943 Acres
Conservation Tillage
2,171 Acres
Contour Farming
4,488 Acres
Cover Crops
3 8 Acres
Critical Area Plantings
7.6 Acres
Field Borders
57,650 Feet
Field Windbreaks
7 0 0 Feet
Filter Strips
18.1 Acres
Grade Stabilization Structures
Grassed Waterways
30.8 Acres
3,415 Acres
Nutrient Management
3,470 Acres
Pest Management
643.3 Acres
Prescribed Grazing
110 Acres
109,765 Feet
Waste Storage Facilities
1 0
Wildlife Habitats (Upland)
8.6 Acres
8.6 Acres
Table 4. New or Expanded Conservation Practices
Voluntarily Planned to be Applied as Part of

Contour Buffer Strips
4 0 Acres
Critical Area Seedings
3 Acres
Field Borders
5,500 Feet
Filter Strips
5.5 Acres
Grade Stabilization Structures
Grassed Waterways
26.6 Acres
750 Acres
Nutrient Management
4,460 Acres
6,800 Feet

Some of the WILESPP participants were already applying some of these best
management techniques prior to the pilot project and the OFAER validated their good
practices. As one participating WILESPP livestock producer put it:
"This is a very goodprogram. As it turned out, I was doing everything right before this. As a result, no
changes in my operation were needed. Things already in place were terraces, waterways, filter strips, no-
till, and applying manure on corn stalks only."
Another livestock producer noted that while he was already implementing some of the
better techniques, he did find the process informative:
.. it did make me more aware that I need to do a more thorough job of testing manure for its nutrient
New practices being implemented by WILESPP producers as a direct result of the
project were described by a number of the participating producers.
"Distance to stay-back from intakes, creeks, neighbor's property, set-back guideline when applying
"Fall-seeding ye on chapped corn silage acres, recording manure application, better matching manure
with low nutrient spots in field, better calving lot utilisation of grass growth."
"Record keeping; pay more attention to media publications; testing manure qualiy."
Mow Efficient NutrieittAppUcatkm
The practices implemented by the WILESPP farms are aimed at ensuring proper
application of manure and prevention of runoff from areas that have manure
applications and intensive animal use. Using data collected through the survey of
participating producers, John Lawrence of Iowa State University summarized the
potential for improved efficiency in nutrient application as follows:
"In general, producers over-estimated the nutrient value of their manure. The estimated nitrogen content
averaged 20% higher than actual (based on lab analysis), and the estimated phosphorus content was 275%
higher than actual. Based on expected application rates, these errors would lead farmers to believe thy are
applying 22 lbs more nitrogen and 99 lbs more phophorus per acre than thy actually applied, reducing their
yield potential. Given this, improved nutrient planning and management under this program should quickly
impact the bottom line ofpartidpatingfarms." --John Lawrence of Iowa State University

Efficient nutrient application saves money. Producers pay for the nutrients entering their
farms in the form of feed grain, silage, and fertilizer for crops. By utilizing manure nutrients
more efficiently and losing less to the environment, producers will have more available for
crops. They will be required to purchase fewer nutrients from outside vendors resulting in
lower costs. Therefore, producers often realize financial benefits from improved nutrient
management and conservation associated with CNMPs. In some cases, a better
understanding of manure nutrient content and soil nutrient content will allow producers to
apply more nutrients to their fields to reach the ideal agronomic rate, thereby increasing crop
In other cases, producers will determine that some or all of their fields should receive fewer
nutrients, reducing their application rates for those fields (and associated application costs)
while allowing them to apply it elsewhere or to sell valuable manure to other farmers. In
either case, applying conservation practices in the CNMP to the requirements of NRCS
standards and specifications will result in better soil and water quality and likely improved
wildlife habitat.
Costs Increase When
Manure Is Over-Applied
Assuming a 4,100 gallon per acre (gpa) recommended manure
application rate and application costs of $.00914 per gallon, the
following table demonstrates how quickly the economics will
deteriorate if nutrients are not applied correctly.

% Over Recommended Rate
Rate (gpa)
These costs do not include the added costs of having to purchase
other nutrients to replace the wasted manure.

Improved Crop Yield1
The WILESPP did not attempt to measure actual changes in crop yields resulting from
the project, but one participating producer did note that he was seeing some
"When we first tested our manure for nutrient analysis, Ifound out it was quite a bit lower than the
standard that ISUput out, so then I increased our commercial fertiliser, [Phosphorus], and [Potassium]
to match removal rates and [crop]yields seem to be reponding accordingly. The P index has been a
learning experience and a lot ofpecple will get their eyes opened in the future when it becomes
In addition, based on a 2001 Iowa State University study, we can assume that CNMP
practices, such as more efficient nutrient application, would lead to increases in crop
yield and revenues. Over-estimating the nutrient value of their manure led some
producers to apply less nitrogen than recommended. In the case of corn crops and all
else being equal, the study showed that a reduced nitrogen application rate of about 33%
below recommended rates would result in about three fewer bushels of corn per acre.
So, a rate of 20% below recommended rates may result in about two fewer bushels of
corn per acre. With the price of corn approximately $2.15 per bushel, there would be an
average revenue loss of $4.30 per acre or, for the average WILESPP operation, $2,100
per year. Adjusting the nitrogen application to recommended rates would likely improve
crop yield. Again, this is assuming that nitrogen is the limiting nutrient and does not
take into consideration the additional costs of applying (and purchasing, if necessary)
additional nutrients.
1 Developing actual estimates of increased crop yields for the WILESPP producers presents significant
challenges. One difficulty is that different crops respond differently to different fertilizer elements. For
example, corn response to nitrogen (N) fertilizer is much greater than that of soybean. Estimating
improvements in crop yield is further confounded by such variables as existing soil fertility levels, climatic
conditions, the form of the nutrient applied, and changes in production practices that affect nutrient use
efficiency (Fertilizer Contributions to Crop Yield, Potash and Phosphate Institute, 1996). An additional
pound per acre of nitrogen or phosphorus to a crop in a field in which nutrient levels are at or near
agronomic rates will have much less impact on crop yields than an additional pound of nutrients in a field
that is well below agronomic rates.

Reduced Soil and Nutrient Runoff to Surface Waters
Soil and nutrient loss are two of the primary indicators of environmental degradation
associated with livestock production. The loss of sediment and phosphorus from the
land and their impacts downstream on the river and marine environments are well
known and documented. The WILESPP farms demonstrated that these impacts can be
significantly reduced through a voluntary CNMP approach. Results from a widely
recognized modeling methodology are presented in Table 5 and indicate that a typical
livestock producer in western Iowa with a CNMP could expect, on average, a 13%
reduction in soil leaving their farms via runoff and a 7% reduction in phosphorus
entering surface water bodies. A summary of the methods used by Iowa DNR to
develop these estimates is provided on the following page.
Table 5. Annual Benefits of CNMP for 16 Livestock
Operations in Carroll and Crawford Counties, as
Estimated by Iowa DNR1	
Per Acre
Per Acre
Estimate of participating
producers' environmental
impact assuming typical
conservation practices for
Estimate of participating
producers' environmental
impact after implementing
Estimate of
sediment/phosphorus loss
Percent reduction
1. Data on the conservation practices used in two of the counties in which the WILESPP operates were
obtained from NRCS's National Resources Inventory (NRI), a statistical survey of land use and natural
resource conditions and trends in the U.S. Estimates are based on the 16 producers operating in Carroll and
Crawford Counties.

Soil and Nutrient Loss: Methodology
To assess the environmental benefits of CNMPs, the WILESPP estimated changes in the
amounts of soil and nutrients escaping each producer's farm. To represent nutrient
losses, the WILESPP team analyzed the loss of a single nutrient, phosphorus, from
participating producer farms. Nitrogen losses were not analyzed by the WILESPP
because available methods for estimating nitrogen losses to surface waters are not easily
quantified. In addition, phosphorus is usually the nutrient that must be carefully
managed when applying manure to crop fields in western Iowa.
Soil loss is dependent on a number of factors including the slope of the land, soil type,
rainfall, and conservation techniques used. Estimates of soil loss resulting from erosion
can be developed using a number of established techniques and models. The best
technique or model depends on the site conditions, available data, and user preferences.
The WILESPP examined three methods for estimating soil loss from the participating
farms and one method for estimating nutrient loss. All methods were based on the basic
Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (see Appendix 1). The RUSLE equation is
typically applied through computer models. RUSLE2 is the current computer model
routinely used by NRCS and throughout the world. RUSLE2 improved upon and
recently replaced the original RUSLE1 model and is considered much more powerful
and accurate than RUSLE1.
Estimates of soil loss and phosphorus loss were developed by Iowa DNR using a
Graphical Information System (GIS) application in conjunction with RUSLE1. Iowa
DNR was not able to use RUSLE2 for its soil loss calculations because, in its current
format, it is not compatible with GIS applications. Baseline conservation input data
consisted of the average conservation practices and treatments for the WILESPP
counties obtained from the National Resources Inventory (NRI). In addition, data from
the GPS mapping of WILESPP fields were used in conjunction with existing soil type,
slope, and rainfall data. These data were then analyzed using the Iowa DNR-developed
GIS model to obtain the soil and phosphorus loss estimates presented in the table below.
The maps in Appendix 3 demonstrate estimated soil loss under varying scenarios for
portions of a field using the Iowa DNR techniques.
Iowa DNR estimated changes in the soil losses from participating producers' farms prior
to implementing the CNMPs and after implementing the CNMPs. Recognizing that the
participating farms are more proactive than most other producers in the area of
environmental stewardship and that many had already embraced many of the nutrient
management practices recommended in their CNMPs, the project participants asked,
"What would be the environmental benefits if more typical farms embraced the practices
detailed in CNMPs?" To answer this question, Iowa DNR conducted detailed and
extensive analyses using GIS tools and data sources that included actual soil types and
typical conservation practices used in the area. Iowa DNR predicted the baseline
sediment and phosphorus loss from the participating producers' farms if these farms had
been implementing the average (and less comprehensive) conservation practices used by
producers in the area. These comparisons are presented in Table 5 and illustrate the
impacts of CNMPs if they were to be implemented more broadly. Descriptions of the
methodology and data sources used are presented in Appendix 1.

The practices implemented by the WILESPP farms to reduce soil and nutrient loss are
aimed at ensuring proper application of manure and prevention of runoff from areas that
have manure applications and intensive animal use. While the WILESPP estimated soil
and phosphorus loss from the participating farms, two other main pollutants associated
with livestock operations, nitrogen and pathogens, can also be expected to decrease.
Another side benefit is more productive soil through improvement in soil tilth, organic
matter, compaction, and soil deposition.
Additional estimates of soil loss were calculated by the NRCS district conservationists as
shown in Table 6. The district conservationists' baseline estimates were based on their
own observations of "typical" conservation practices and treatments in their county.
This baseline was compared to the practices and treatments in place at the WILESPP
farms after implementation of the CNMPs. Estimates of pre- and post-CNMP soil loss
were then developed using RUSLE2 as shown in the table below. Because the data used
by the district conservationists to represent "typical" practices were not systematically
collected and are subjective, they should be thought of as rough estimates.
Table 6. RUSLE2 Estimated Annual Soil Loss for WILESPP Operations before
and after CNMP Implementation, as Estimated by NRCS	


Soil loss prior to plan
Soil loss after implementing plan
Farm-specific estimates of soil loss were calculated by Joe Lally, project team member,
and Jay Ford, NRCS-DC, based on knowledge of the baseline practices and treatments
of selected WILESPP producers compared to the practices and treatments implemented
as a result of the WILESPP. These data were then processed using RUSLE2 to derive
the estimated soil losses presented in Table 7. This method has the advantage of
comparing actual pre- and post-WILESPP results instead of comparing average results at
typical non-participating farms to post-WILESPP results at participating farms. It
should be noted that these results do not utilize much of the detailed topographic and
soil type data used in the Iowa DNR analysis (see Table 5).

Table 7. Pre- and Post-CNMP Soil Loss for Selected Participants


Went from injecting liquid hog manure into bean stubble to
injecting into com stubble without further tillage before
planting. No-till plants placed direcdy into corn stubble and
bean stubble.
Going from an injection of manure to top-dressing com stalk
residue with a limited quantity of liquid manure. Installing 4.5
miles of filter strips this crop year (2004) equaling 14.6 acres.
R Weed
Switched to continuous corn from a corn-soybean rotation.
50% cover or more after planting. Was over-applying nitrogen
in old corn-soybean rotation. Now injecting liquid hog
manure on all acres each year and decreasing application rate.
Also eliminating liquid nitrogen as an herbicide carrier.
J. Weed
Changed manure application to 11,000 gal/ ac on 80 acres
from 9,000 gal/ac on 95 ac. Apply 9,000 gal/ac on 15 acres
every other year with new CNMP instead of every year. Will
complete terraces and/or contour buffer strips.
Corn silage to hay on more acres — will be installing a few
more terraces. Switching from high moisture rationto more
dry feed mix in ration. Redesigning feedlots to incorporate
solids settling and grass buffers.
Switched to continuous com and additional alfalfa hay
production on E slopes. Was applying_20-30 lbs. of nitrogen
more than crop usage — need to give up weed and feed starter
program. No credit in past for catde manure that was applied
to soybean stubble. May go to 4 years hay rotation on 30 ac
of E slope on one tract, and 25 ac of another tract — total
increased hay production from 10 acres to 60 acres.
No-till fall-seeded rye into com silage stubble. Switch 3 year
com/1 year soybeans rotation to continuous corn silage/rye.
The WILESPP results demonstrate that not only do the CNMP planning process and
improved management practices protect the environment at a lower cost to the public than
regulatory options, they can also bring both short-term and long-term financial benefits to
livestock producers.
Together, manure sampling soil grid sampling and mapping and more precise manure
application rates allow producers to apply the proper nutrient levels to their fields to ensure
that crops have just enough for optimal growth and no more. Other conservation practices,
such as conservation crop rotation and tillage, contour farming, terracing cover crops, buffer

strips, and grassed waterways all prevent the wasteful erosion of valuable soil nutrients and
improve soil quality.
With fewer nutrients and less soil runoff entering the local watershed, we can expect this
approach to result in better water quality. Improvements are already becoming evident, as
noted by Darrel Nissen, a representative beef producer on the WILESPP project team:
"Our operation has been committed to a lifetime of continuous improvement of our land, animal, and
water resources. Byparticipating in the Western Iowa Pilot Project, we have gained first-hand
information on the latest rules and regulations, a third party review of our current management practices,
a noticeable improvement in the quality of our pasture drinking water, and a lower volume of sediment
leaving our silage fields as a result of implementing our CNMP. We've also been able to demonstrate
this success to otherproducers and several of the ageny and industry people working with this project."
Return on CNMP Investment
Although implementation of a CNMP involves up-front investments of time and money,
the WILESPP demonstrated how a livestock producer can achieve a return on this
investment from greater crop yield, reduced soil and nutrient loss, and improved soil
quality. This finding is based on an in-depth evaluation of the pre- and post-CNMP
costs and benefits for Mr. Nissen.
With the assistance of other team members, Nissen changed his crop rotation from three
years of corn followed by one year of soybean to continuous corn with fall-seeded rye.
He also grid mapped and soil tested all of his crop fields to get a detailed understanding
of his soil nutrient levels. Using this knowledge, he was able to spread his
cattle's manure on the crop fields at variable rates to maximize his crop yield. These new
practices reduced his farm's loss of valuable nutrients and soil2. As seen in Table 8, the
per acre costs of making these changes were offset by the additional value realized from
increased crop yields, reduced soil erosion, and improved soil quality.
2 Natural topsoil formation is a very slow process, perhaps as low as 0.5 ton per acre per year on average.
As a result, most soils cannot renew their eroded surface while erosion continues to degrade the soil. The
value of topsoil to individual farmers is difficult to quantify and varies from region to region and farm to
farm. A "rule of thumb" estimate used by NRCS and others is $5 per ton. However, others have
estimated $6.75 per ton and topsoil sells for $15 per ton. Even using the $5 per ton rate, many soil
conservation practices can be shown to be cost effective.

Table 8. Example of CNMP Costs Offset by
Conservation Savings and Revenue Gains
Operating Costs ($ per Acre)

(Corn, Corn, Corn, Soybean Rotation)
(Corn Silage (continuous) plus Fall-
Seeded Rye)
Costs Influenced by
4 Year Total
(Corn *3)
Fall Rye
4 Year Total
(Corn *4)+
(Rye *4)
Variable Rate
Manure Application
4 Year Total
Total Annual
Operating Costs
Soil Loss Costs per Acre

Annual Soil Loss
16.4 tons
4.47 tons
Total Cost of Soil
Loss at $5/Ton
Rye Yield Revenue per Acre
Annual Rye Yield per
0.5 ton
Total Revenue at
Total Cost per Acre


As part of his CNMP, Nissen voluntarily invested in a number of additional operational
improvements to further reduce erosion, improve livestock quality, and ensure a good
reputation and relationship with neighbors. Some of the changes included: installing
surface water diversion terraces around his calving yard; emptying, cleaning and
recharging his drinking water ponds; excavating, fertilizing and reseeding worn cattle
paths; and reseeding his heifer yard with grass and allowing to mature before restocking.
Now that Nissen's CNMP is in place, we anticipate that his farm will continue to achieve

greater operational efficiencies and crop yields. All of these practices will also benefit the
environment by improving the quality of down-gradient surface water bodies.
In summary, the CNMPs made sense to ft® producers. The post-project survey
indicated that they generally understood the objectives and recommendations, and 13 of
the 19 producers planned to have them fully implemented in 2004. They rated reduced
soil erosion, reduced N and P runoff, and improved overall management of land
resources among the greatest benefits of the CNMPs. Many of the producers believe
they will receive an economic benefit from following the CNMP. On average, they rated
reducing fertilizer costs as one of the most effective aspects of the CNMP, rating it at 4.4
on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being very high.
Improved Working Relationships
An important feature of the WILESPP is the active involvement of the meat production
and processing companies with the livestock producers to assist them with their
environmental stewardship efforts. Over the course ot the pilot project, most project
participants saw value in this collaborative approach as demonstrated by the survey
In receiving
assistance from
meat processors,
contracted livestock
producers realize a
significant benefit
in the form of
knowledge and
According to the
post-project survey
results and quotes from participating producers and processors

conducted by Iowa State University, the nine independent producers that do not
normally receive assistance from meat processors gained more from the project's one-
on-one assistance than their contracted counterparts, ranking the change in their overall
environmental awareness resulting from the project as a 3.5, with 5.0 being the highest,
compared to a 2.7 for the contracted producers. In general, the contracted producers
were already doing many of the manure and nutrient management practices
recommended in their CNMPs. For the most part, independent producers were not
managing nutrients to the same degree before the project. Participating producers
reinforced these survey results in the following statements:
"I wouldn 't change anything. The people and organisations involved were very helpful and
knowledgeable and were extremely interested in working with the producer to find a program thatfit into
evey body's plan."
"All my environmentalpractices came from working with the Prestage-Stoeckerfarm environmental
"I was pleased to find the pecple connected with the pilot were as anxious to support my management
efforts as thy were at charting progress on environmental issues."
"We volunteered to be part ofi the Stewardship Project to stay ahead of the curve. This program helps
reinforce that we are all (government and industy) working in the same direction."
"I think one of the biggest benefits has been getting all the interested parties to work together, namely
EPA, DNR, NRCS, Farmland, Prestage, and producers."
From the meat processors' perspective, the WILESPP approach of providing hands-on
environmental assistance to livestock growers is a necessity for good nutrient
management and other conservation practices, but it also reflects initiatives that
processors already pursue, in large part to manage risk. A1 Witt, of Prestage-Stoecker,
put it this way:
"The program that Prestage-Stoecker has with all of its contract growers is vey similar to the
WIJ,/ iSPP program. Environmental liability is one of the main reasons for having environmental
programs with the producers. That is why we have [certified crop advisors] on staff. We are trying to
proactively reduce our risk. . . . Prestage-Stoecker sees avoiding litigation as very important. Because the
producers are relatively small, litigators will go after the dep pockets."
While noting the substantial benefits that CNMPs can provide to processors, livestock
producers, and the environment, Witt felt a potential barrier to widespread adoption of

the plans is the amount of
time required to produce
them, especially given the
upcoming regulatory
deadlines imposed by the
new CAFO regulations.
Prestage-Stoecker has been
able to reduce significantly
the amount of time its own
CCAs spend on developing
manure nutrient
management plans as well as
the burden on its contract producers. Witt noted that Prestage-Stoecker's program
focuses only on manure nutrient management plans, which are only a piece of the larger
CNMPs. Nevertheless, he felt that some of Prestage-Stoecker's experience in working
with livestock producers in this area could be applied to the WILESPP voluntary
approach. His specific ideas included:
¦	Simplify the CNMP documentation as much as possible — too much paperwork
and documentation reduces the ability and willingness of often very busy
producers to utilize the plans. The project team recognizes, however, that
whatever the format of the CNMP, it must meet NRCS and State agency
¦	Per NRCS CNMP standards, where possible, use more visual aids, such as aerial
photos and plot maps, to make it as easy as possible for producers to implement
the plans.
¦	Per NRCS CNMP standards, processors should provide guidance to their
producer/suppliers that is as simple and, to a certain extent, prescriptive as
possible in defining their CNMPs.
The WILESPP project also provided benefits to government stakeholders. The costs of
achieving stewardship through the voluntary partnership approach were spread among

stakeholders. The time and money spent on developing and implementing the CNMPs
mainly fell upon the local NRCS field offices, the certified crop advisors (CCAs), the
producers themselves, and the meat processing firms. The costs of overall project
coordination, impacts measurement, and results reporting were primarily borne by the
EPA, Iowa DNR, and Iowa State University. Table 9 shows the distribution of time
required to develop and implement the CNMPs by project participant and activity. The
total time to develop a CNMP, not including implementing recommended practices and
evaluating the plan, was about 57 hours per producer. It should be noted that this
estimate is based on a limited sample in a single location in the U.S. and that many of the
producers had already applied numerous soil and water conservation practices. NRCS
completed a national study of CNMPs and estimated that the average time requirement,
including implementation and evaluation, is about 135 hours.
Table 9. Average CNMP Development and
Implementation Time Requirements per Producer


Updating/Completing Nutrient
12 hours
2 hours

2 hours
Management Plan

Preparing Emergency Action Plan
1 hour

Creating Nutrient Management
1 hour


CNMP Design and Planning1
Identify Problems and Opportunities

5 hours
2 hours
and Determine Objectives

Inventory Resources and Analyze

12 hours
2 hours
Resource Data

Formulate Alternatives, Evaluate

16 hours
2 hours
Alternatives, and Make Decisions

Implement the Plan2

Evaluate the Plan

14 hours
2 hours
33 hours1
8+ hours2
1. A fairly significant range of time is needed to develop CNMPs for each farm, which is highly
dependent upon the producer's previous experience with the planning process, and the size and type
of operation. NRCS received a nutrient management plan from a private agronomist for 17 project
participants. However, many of these plans were not fully compliant with the NRCS standards.
Therefore, NRCS staff time for planning includes some time for the nutrient management plan. Time
estimates shown also reflect the fact that many of the participating producers had experience with
conservation efforts prior to this pilot project.
2 Producers were still implementing their CNMPs at the time this report was written; therefore,
sufficient data on the time requirements for implementing the CNMPs were not available.

Developing and implementing
the CNMPs required time and
effort by all participating parties,
including the NRCS district
conservationists. However, the
project did help the NRCS
achieve its overall mission. As
part of NRCS's role in assisting
farmers to conserve soil and
nutrients, NRCS set a goal of
developing 160 nutrient management plans (NMPs) in Iowa. The 20 WIPs developed
as: part of the CNMPs are helping NRCS reach this goal. The WILESPP also provided
NRCS with an opportunity to examine and improve upon the process for developing
CNMPs and to obtain feedback on the process through the post-project survey. One
NRCS district conservationist acknowledged the value of the project and CNMPs while
noting the required time requirements:
"This was a learning experience for me. I was opposed to CNMPs, but have now changed my opinion.
My only concern is with the amount of time required." -- NRCS, District Conservationist
betas Brown, the former Iowa NRCS State Conservationist, summed up the NRCS
involvement in the WILESPP as follows:
"NRCS staff is excited to be involved in this effort of landoimers, private -industry., and government to
demonstrate, that agriculture will respond to the needs of the environment in a voluntaty manner if
prodded with adequate information and technical help. This is particularly so when the resp onse occurs
through a locally-led effort spearheaded by some local group, such as the Soil and Water Conservation
NRCS and Iowa DNR, having related missions in the area of conservation, found their
participation in the WILESPP provided a means for coordinating their data collection
and permitting requirements. Iowa DNR policy changed to recognize NRCS-certified
CNMPs as meeting the State's nutrient management requirements. In addition, because
CNMPs exceed Iowa's requirements for manure management plans, Iowa DNR has the
benefit of knowing that some producers are exceeding their requirements, allowing Iowa
DNR to devote its assistance and inspection resources elsewhere.


The WILESPP showed that a multi-stakeholder group can effectively encourage
voluntary environmental stewardship by livestock producers. The WILESPP team
believes that the success of environmental initiatives and future voluntary
stewardship programs depends on the participation of and leadership from meat processing
Many lessons were learned during the course of the project that will be of value to
further efforts promoting voluntary environmental stewardship. The project participants
have considered these lessons and developed recommendations for future efforts. In
general, project improvements fall into three related areas: efficiency, communication,
and performance measurement.
In order to promote widespread use of CNMPs in a short period of time, the process of
developing a producer-specific CNMP should be streamlined. While the project
demonstrated relatively low resource requirements for each stakeholder on a per
producer basis, the project team feels that improvements are possible and necessary if
the WILESPP approach is to be expanded to encompass a significant portion of the
thousands of animal feeding operations.

Improved communication among participants is necessary to orchestrate the activities of the
wide variety of stakeholders such that they each understand their role in the project and work
together efficiently towards a common goal. Improved communication beyond the project-
specific community will also be needed to convey the benefits of the project and CNMPs in
order to encourage more producers to participate.
Improved performance measurement will be necessary to educate all potential stakeholders of
the superior results possible through a voluntary approach like the WILESPP. New
measurement tools should include the ability to predict easily and quickly not only the
environmental benefits of alternative management practices, but also the potential financial
costs and benefits so that they can be communicated to the livestock producers and other
Specific recommendations described below address one or more of these general areas.
Convene an Early StakeholderMeeting to Explain Roles
It is critical in a voluntary project that everyone understands their roles from the start
and is confident they have the resources, ability and desire to carry them out. All
participants should have an opportunity to contribute to the project design as it
progresses from the conceptual stage to a detailed project plan. An early stakeholder
meeting to discuss project design would improve project efficiency. The WILESPP did
not involve the independent agronomists during the meetings in which the project plan
was developed. Getting the input and buyoff of independent agronomists on their role
in developing the CNMPs could have improved efficiency in CNMP development.
Develop a Standardised CNMP Format
Greater standardization of the CNMPs will allow for efficient review of the documents for
certification. More consistent formats and content would streamline the regulatory review of
CNMPs in those states where elements of the CNMP are required of AFOs. An improved
standardized format could also ensure that all of the information needed to measure the
environmental impacts of CNMPs is available in an easy to use table so that it can easily be
extracted from the document.

StueamUne the Development of CNMPs
One perceived obstacle for programs that encourage the voluntary development and
implementation of CNMPs is the amount of time required from the assistance-providing
stakeholders like NRCS, contracted processors, and state environmental agencies. In
addition, technical assistance providers need to focus more and more of their efforts on
addressing the upcoming requirements for CNMPs under the CAI () regulations. While
the site-specific nature of CNMPs eliminates the possibility of a "cookie cutter"
approach, most project participants feel opportunities exist to make the process more
efficient and effective.
t	1
Portions of the CNMP development process, such as nutrient management plans, may
be amenable to automation using custom software. The nutrient management plans
were one of the most time consuming components of the CNMP. Iowa DNR project
participant Chris Ensminger noted that Iowa DNR staff developed some electronic
forms during the WILESPP that could significantly reduce the time to develop nutrient

management plans. Automation of CNMPs, along with inputting key CNMP data
directly into a database, would make it easier for users like Iowa DNR to analyze data
from a large number of CNMPs, identify data outliers, and summarize data
electronically. Lyle Asell of Iowa DNR felt that, ultimately, the aim should be to work
towards creating tools that allow farmers to develop their own CNMPs with little or no
outside help and that allow them to predict the impact of various conservation practices.
As a partial result of the WILESPP, Iowa NRCS led an effort to gain consensus on the
development of an Iowa "One Plan" to assist producers in developing and implementing
CNMPs and manure nutrient management plans required by Iowa DNR. The "One
Plan" will meet NRCS standards and will be accepted by Iowa DNR for its permit
A1 Witt of Prestage-Stoecker noted that his firm routinely develops the manure nutrient
management plans for its contracted producers and that they have streamlined the
process such that it now takes less
time. Similar efficiencies may be
found in the other aspects of
CNMP development. While not all
livestock producers have the benefit
of such assistance from their
contracted processors, future efforts
should, whenever possible, take
even more advantage of the skills
and expertise of CCAs to assist with
portions of CNMP development.
Dennis Pate of NRCS sees it all this
tcYes, time and simplicity are important, but the bottom line is that an effective CNMP is site-specific,
based on the needs of the client, mid is packaged and explained to the client so that he or she can
understand andfollow it. It is the implementation, not the development of the CNMP that is most
Photo by IDNR

Clarify Roles and Responsibilities of Private Sector Assistance
The WILESPP project plan recognized that outside vendors would be important in creating
the nutrient management plans (NMPs), updating the commercial nutrient components of
the NMPs, and coordinating the information with the District Conservationists at the USDA-
NRCS office as part of the CNMP. As the project got underway, however, it became
apparent that without an interest in the success of the project, private sector service providers
might need an explicit detailed accounting of their role and responsibilities in the project in
order to avoid conflicts of interest and to ensure that project priorities are met. Alternatively,
a qualified agronomist directly employed by the project participants (e.g., meat processors,
EPA, or an appropriate state agency) may provide the best possible service. Under either
scenario, supplying the private sector assistance providers with simple, standardized tools
could significantly reduce their burden and increase their efficiency in providing nutrient
management planning and implementation assistance.
Demonstrate andCormmmicate the Benefits of Specific CNMP
Good communication with the livestock producers about the CNMP requirements and
their benefits is critical to encouraging participation. A1 Witt of Prestage-Stoecker
recommends shortening the CNMP documents and making them less cumbersome for
the livestock producers. He recommends reducing the amount of background
information in the documents, which most producers do not have time to review. In the
plans developed by Prestage-Stoecker for its contract livestock producers, only the
specific information that producers need to implement the plans is provided. Also,
CNMPs need to be demonstrated to producers with tools with which they are most
familiar, such as color-coded plot maps, aerial photos, and other visuals that show the
right amounts, locations, and best practices for applying nutrients.
Livestock producers also need to understand the benefits they can expect from
implementing the plans. With the necessary data entered electronically during the
development of the CNMP, Iowa DNR participants noted that the conservation and

financial benefits of CNMPs could be estimated in real time using computer programs.
These benefits should also be presented in formats best suited to producers (e.g., color-
coded plot maps, aerial photos) perhaps via the Internet.
Moiing Forward
The WILESPP participants agree that,
ultimately, their project can and
should form the basis for a
widespread program that promotes
voluntary stewardship by livestock
producers. The project's findings
demonstrate that the environmental
benefits of such a program would be
substantial, while the costs could be
relatively low and shared amongst the
various stakeholders. Others have
also recognized the benefits of a
voluntary, cooperative approach to
stewardship by livestock producers, as
demonstrated by the Michigan
Agriculture Environmental Assurance
Program (see box).
Project participants believe that this
pilot provides a foundation to develop
larger-scale voluntary programs that
will build upon the lessons learned in
the WILESPP and incorporate the
recommendations contained in this
report. Such a program will need the
active participation of additional meat
processing firms and commitments
A Similar Approach:
Michigan Agriculture Environmental
Assurance Program
Other organizations are seeing the benefits of adopting the
industry/regulator partnership approach to improving the
environmental performance of livestock producers. The
Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program
(MAEAP) is a voluntary agricultural pollution prevention
program that ensures that participating producers use effective
land stewardship practices that comply with environmental
regulations. MAEAP uses a voluntary, education-based
approach to achieve various environmental goals, including:
¦	Solving environmental pollution problems
¦	Preventing pollution at its source
¦	Maintaining and enhancing natural resources
¦	Monitoring and recording changes in
producers' management practices
¦	Providing incentives for participation
¦	Encouraging sharing of technological
¦	Rewarding accomplishment through award
A systems approach was taken to assist producers in
evaluating their farms for environmental risk. The three
systems include Livestock, Farmstead, and Cropping. The
primary component of the Livestock System is the completion
and implementation of a Comprehensive Nutrient
Management Plan.
Producers can request third party verification from the
Michigan Department of Agriculture after they have
developed a CNMP and are following their schedule of
implemented practices or improvements. When these
requirements are successfully met, producers receive MAEAP
verification and recognition for their accomplishments. Some
CAFOs may be eligible to choose to become verified through
MAEAP instead of seeking coverage under the NPDES
General Permit.
"Changes in agriculturalpractices and increased ruralpopulation density
have contributed to the need for additional environmental stewardship
tools like MAEAP." — Dan Wyant, Director of the Michigan
Department of Agriculture, from the MAEAP website.
trThe tools andplans developedfrom the pilotproject will assist the
MAEAP in achieving its goal of involving 85 percent of livestock
production in the MAEAP by 2005." — Russell J. Harding, former
Director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

from state and federal environmental and agricultural agencies. It will also count on the
continued dedication of individual livestock producers working to improve their own
Operations while improving the environment of their community. Working together
through such a program, industry and government can have a profound impact on how
resource management is practiced in the U.S., with lasting environmental benefits for us
"If we can demonstrate an industry-led effort, includingproducers and processors, that malts in improved
environmental management while maintaining profitability, then we have another tool me can use to
shape change. The more tools m ham and use, the less we will have to. rely on the big 'R' tool Just as
the commercial said, show me the beef,'! believe the public is saying,, 'show m the results.5 This is our
challenge and opportunity. We are off to a good start, but have a ways to go. We have a lot of good
people iporking together on this project. If we continue to take, it seriously, learnfrom successes and
failures, and demonstrate progress, we will be successful" — Lyle Asell, Iowa DNR
Photo by I DNR

Appendix 1:
Methodology for Estimating
Soil and Phosphorus Losses
Using geographical information systems (GIS) tools, data collected from the participating
producers throughout the project, and data obtained from NRCS's National Resources
Inventory (NRI), Iowa DNR was able to develop estimates for soil and phosphorus loss as a
result of erosion from each producer's farm.
For soil loss, Iowa DNR used the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). RUSLE is
a well-validated equation for estimating average annual soil loss and sediment yield resulting
from erosion. RUSLE has been adopted by NRCS as its erosion prediction tool. The
RUSLE equation is as follows:
A = R k I.S C l>
A = annual soil loss from sheet and rill erosion in tons/acre
R = rainfall erosivity factor
K = soil erodibility factor
LS = slope length and steepness factor
C = cover and management factor
P = support practice factor
Iowa DNR used data from NRCS for the R factor and from a digital version of the NRCS
County Soil Survey for the K and LS factors of the equation. For the C and P factors, Iowa
DNR used information from the NRCS's National Resources Inventory (NRI). The NRI is a
statistical survey of land use and natural resource conditions and trends on U.S. non-federal
lands, and serves as the federal government's principal source of information on the status,
condition, and trends of soil, water, and related resources in the United States. NRCS
conducts the NRI in cooperation with Iowa State University's Center for Survey Statistics and

Phosphorus losses were estimated using the Phosphorus Index developed by Iowa State
University, the National Soil Tilth Lab, and NRCS. The Phosphorus Index is a tool used to
assess the potential for phosphorus (P) to move from agricultural fields to surface water. It
uses an integrated approach that considers soil and landscape features as well as soil
conservation and P management practices in individual fields. These characteristics include
source factors such as soil test P; total soil P; rate, method, and timing of P application from
commercial fertilizer, manure, and other organic sources; and erosion. Transport factors
include sediment delivery, relative field location in the watershed, soil conservation practices,
precipitation, runoff, and tile flow/subsurface drainage. Erosion, runoff, and drainage factors
for a site or field are used in a mathematical equation to determine whether the phosphorus
movement risk is very low, low, medium, high, or very high.
The Phosphorus Index uses a multiplicative approach to combine source and transport
factors in estimating P delivered to water resources. The source factors are combined in a
multiplicative manner within three major components based on the major transport
mechanisms: an erosion component (sediment loss), a runoff component (water loss), and a
subsurface drainage component (water loss through tiles and/or coarse subsoil/substrata).
Each component provides a rough (or proportional) estimate of amounts of P delivered from
fields through each transport mechanism that would be available for aquatic ecosystems (lb

Appendix 2:
Project Participants and Plan
Original Pnjject Stewardship Council
Roger Holtorf.	EPA-OPEI
A1 Witt	Prestage-Stoecker Farms
Kellie Welter	Prestage-Stoecker Farms
Scott McLaughlin. Prestage-Stoecker Farms
Jay Green	Farmland Foods, Inc.
Duane Ideus 	Farmland Foods, Inc.
Patti Vogt	Farmland Foods, Inc
Dennis Pate	USDA-NRCS
Lyle Asell	IDNR
Josh Sobaski	IDNR
John Lawrence	Iowa State University
Rod Backhaus	Wallace Foundation
* Some of the original Stewardship Council Members are no longer affiliated with the
organizations noted here or play an active role on the WILESPP.

First Year Project Plan
Step 1:	Stakeholder sponsor fills out producer profile and Soil and Water
Conservation District (SWCD) cooperator agreement at producer's farm.
Completed profile worksheet and SWCD cooperator agreement are
signed by Producer and filed at the appropriate County NRCS office. A
copy of the producer profile is sent to Iowa State University. All
conservation planning is to be completed according to NRCS planning
process (to the RMS level) and all practices will be planned and
implemented per NRCS standards and specifications, including the
Comprehensive Nutrient Management Guidance.
Step 1A: Iowa State University will undertake "Plan Producer Technical Survey,"
gather information, and maintain files in an ISU database.
Step 2:	Producer or Stakeholder gathers representative manure sample of
manure to be field applied in fall of 2001, sends it to lab for analysis.
Results to certified crop advisor (CCA), ISU, and project Stewardship
Step 3:	Producers/Assistance Providers gather soil sample from fields where fall
application of manure will take place. Results are sent to CCA, NRCS,
and ISU.
Step 4:	GPS mapping of Producer's production sites by Stakeholder. Site maps
will be created and copies provided to NRCS and CCA.
Step 5:	Producer completes updated Conservation Plan for farm, to at least the
CNMP level. NRCS District Conservationist and CCA coordinate the
planning process.
Step 6:	Form A of OFAER is filled out and sent in by Stakeholder sponsor to
OFAER. OFAER assessment occurs within six months of submitting
Form A. Results are given to Producer.
Step 7:	Producer develops and implements the Conservation Plan with
coordination from NRCS District Conservationist and CCA. Producer
maintains records.
Step 8:	Manure application logs are filled out by Producers during field
application events. Copies are sent to NRCS, CCA, and ISU.

Appendix 3:
Sample Soil Loss Maps

Tract: T4203
Field: la-opt 1
RUSLE Report
Total Acres = 61.83
Utilized C Factor = 0.05
Utilized P Factor =0.75
NRCS RUSLE = 3.52 t/a/y
NRCS Total = 217.86 t/y
GIS Avg RUSLE = 3.09 t/a/y
CMS Total = 191.05 t/y
Worst Case Avg RUSLE = 19.76 t/a/y
Worst Case Total = 1221.90 t/y
P-Index Report
Erosion Component = 1.29
Runoff Component = 0.47
Subsurface Drainage Component = 0.00
Final PI Score = 1.77
Risk Assessment: Low
Rotation = Com, Com
Tillage = Mulch( spring), Mulch( spring)
Residue = 50%, 50%
Practices = Contouring
< 1
1 -3
5 -10
¦ >10

Tract: T4203	Field: la
RUSLE Report
Total Acres = 61.83
Utilized C Factor = 0.13
Utilized P Factor =0.75
NRCS RUSLE = 8.32 t/a/y
NRCS Total = 514.39 t/y
GIS Avg RUSLE = 7.30 t/a/y
GIS Total = 451.12 t/y
Worst Case Avg RUSLE = 19.76 t/a/y
Worst Case Total = 1221.90 t/y
P-Index Report
Erosion Component =3.05
Runoff Component = 0.47
Subsurface Drainage Component = 0.00
Final PI Score = 3.53
Risk Assessment: Medium
Rotation = Com, Soybeans(narrow)
Tillage = Mulch(fall), Mulch(fall)
Residue = 20%. 40%
Practices = Contouring
< 1
1 -3
5 -10
¦ >10