Assessing the implications of chloride from land application of manure for Minnesota waterways


Rising chloride contamination in ground and surface waters is a growing concern in Minnesota. Previous studies estimate 87% of the chloride load originated from road salts, fertilizers, and wastewater treatments plants, and 6% from livestock manure. However, these estimates may be outdated as the livestock industry and manure application practices have evolved since these estimates of manure chloride concentrations were calculated in 2004. It also remains unclear how varying soil types affect the movement of chloride leaching following manure application. The aim of this study is to understand the movement of manure-based chloride from liquid and solid manures in Minnesota soils through a series of intact core leaching studies. Specifically, this project examines the magnitude of chloride leaching from swine and turkey manure application and compares it with synthetic potassium chloride fertilizer and a no nutrient control. The soil cores represent fine and medium textured soil.

What Did We Do?

    • Collected 24 12-inch soil columns from medium and fine-textured soils in Minnesota (Figure 1).
    • Collected swine and turkey manure from Minnesota farms
    • Analyzed soil pre- and post-leaching study for nutrient analysis (Cl, Bray P, NH4+, NO3, K, Organic Matter, pH, and Exchangeable Ca, Mg, Na, K)
    • Analyzed manure samples for nutrient analysis pre-application (Total N, P2O5, K2O, Cl)
    • Added water to cores until they reached field capacity
    • Applied manure using N-based application rates, and fertilizer using a K-based rate to 3 replicates
    • Simulated 2-in rainfall events on days 4, 12, and 18 post nutrient application
    • Collected and analyzed leachate for Cl, NH4+-N, and NO3-N
Figure 1: Setup of 12-inch PVC soil cores for leaching study

What Have We Learned?

    • How chloride concentration varies based on manure type and species
    • How the total amount of chloride applied via fertilizer application to cores varies by treatment
    • How manure-based chloride moves through soil
    • How fine and medium textured soil influences the movement of manure-based chloride
    • How chloride storage changed by soil type following the experiment (Figure 2)
      1. Medium textured soils had a greater change in chloride storage in both top and bottom layers compared to fine textured soils
      2. Manure additions increased chloride storage in both medium and fine textured soils
      3. Control soil cores experienced a loss in chloride storage following leaching
Figure 2: Change in soil chloride storage in each medium textured (left) and fine textured (right) soils by treatment. Positive values indicate a net gain in soil chloride, while negative values indicate a net loss in soil chloride following leaching.
Table 1: Total Cl concentration of liquid swine manure (lbs/1000 gallons), solid turkey litter, and synthetic KCl (lbs/ton) followed by total weight (g) of Cl added per core via application.

Cl (lbs/1000 gallons)

Cl (lbs/ton)

Cladded per core (g)













Future Plans

Our group would like to complete a second round of this study the following year on newly identified liquid and solid manure and an additional coarse textured soil type. Future attempts in creating chloride-based mass balances for the state of Minnesota will benefit from this study.


Matthew Belanger, Graduate Research Assistant, Dept of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota

Corresponding author email address

Additional authors

Dr. Erin L. Cortus, Associate Professor and Extension Engineer, Dept of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota

Dr. Gary W. Feyereisen, Research Agricultural Engineer, USDA-ARS Soil & Water Mgt. Research Unit

Nancy Bohl Bormann, Graduate Research Assistant, Dept of Soil, Water, and Climate University of Minnesota

Dr. Melissa L. Wilson, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Dept of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota

Additional Information

Wilson Manure Management and Water Quality Lab Site


This project is funded through the University of Minnesota Water Resource Center’s Watershed Innovation Grants Program. We’d also like to thank Scott Cortus, Eddie Alto, Todd Schumacher, Dr. Pedro Urriola, and Thor Sellie for their assistance.

The Michigan EnviroImpact Tool: A Supporting Tool to Help Farmers in Forecasting Manure Nutrient Runoff Risk

The purpose of the MI EnviroImpact Tool is to provide farmers with a daily runoff risk decision support tool that can aid in effectively planning short-term manure and nutrient application. This not only helps keep nutrients on the field and potentially saves money, but it also helps to protect our waterways in Michigan.

Lifecycle of manure nutrients
Figure 1. Livestock operations are a readily available source of manure nutrients. With effective nutrient application, farmers might be able to reduce the use of commercial fertilizers and save money.
With the MI EnviroImpact tool, farmers are able to plan for effective short-term manure application.
Figure 2. With the MI EnviroImpact tool, farmers are able to plan for effective short-term manure application.

What did we do?

Farmer interest groups were pulled together for initial piloting and testing of the MI EnviroImpact tool to hear what worked and what needed improvement. The goal was to make this a very user-friendly tool that everyone could use. Additionally, educational and outreach materials were created (factsheet, postcard, YouTube videos, and presentations) to help get the word out about this decision support tool. The ultimate goal of the MI EnviroImpact tool is for use as a decision support tool for short-term manure and nutrient application. The tool derives the runoff risk forecast from real-time precipitation and temperature forecasts. This information is then combined with snow melt, soil moisture and temperature, and other landscape characteristics  to forecast times when the risk of runoff will be higher. The MI EnviroImpact tool is applicable in all seasons and has a winter mode for times when the average daily snow depth is greater than 1 inch or the 3-day average soil temperature (top 2 inches) is below freezing.

The MI EnviroImpact tool displaying both winter and non-winter modes of daily runoff risk.
Figure 3. The MI EnviroImpact tool displaying both winter and non-winter modes of daily runoff risk.

What did we learn?

Through our work with the MI EnviroImpact Tool and those that helped to develop this tool, we were able to spread awareness of this user-friendly tool, so that more farmers would be likely to use it to help in nutrient application planning. Furthermore, those outside of the farming community have been very encouraged to see that agriculture is continuing to take steps in being environmentally friendly. Additionally, others have viewed this tool as a resource outside of farmers, showing that the MI EnviroImpact Tool has broader implications than just agriculture.

Future Plans

Future plans include continuing education about the MI EnviroImpact Tool as well as continued distribution of educational materials to help spread awareness of the tool itself.

Additional Information

Those who would like to learn more about the MI EnviroImpact Tool can visit the following links:


This project was prepared by MSU under award NA14OAR4170070 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce through the Regents of the University of Michigan. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce, or the Regents of the University of Michigan.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer, committed to achieving excellence through a diverse workforce and inclusive culture that encourages all people to reach their full potential. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jeff Dwyer, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing, MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

Partners and funding sources involved in supporting, developing, and implementing the MI EnviroImpact tool.
Figure 4. Partners and funding sources involved in supporting, developing, and implementing the MI EnviroImpact tool.

Project Collaborators:

Heather A. Triezenberg, Ph.D.
Extension Specialist and Program Leader, Michigan Sea Grant
Michigan State University Extension
Community, Food and Environment Institute
Fisheries and Wildlife Department
Meaghan Gass
Sea Grant Extension Educator
Michigan State University Extension

Jason Piwarski
GIS Specialist
Michigan State University
Institute of Water Research

Dustin Goering
Senior Hydrologist
North Central River Forecast Center
NOAA National Weather Service

Cindy Hudson
Communications Manager, Michigan Sea Grant
Community, Food & Environment Institute
Michigan State University Extension

Jeremiah Asher
Assistant Director
Institute of Water Research
Michigan State University

Kraig Ehm
Multimedia Producer
ANR Communications and Marketing
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Michigan State University

Luke E. Reese
PhD, Associate Professor
Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
Michigan State University

Marilyn L. Thelen
Associate Director, Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute
Michigan State University Extension

Todd Marsee
Senior Graphic Designer
Michigan Sea Grant
University of Michigan

Mindy Tape
ANR Communications & Marketing
Michigan State University Extension



The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Spreading Manure In Winter. What Are the Risks?

This archive was recorded from a live presentation at the 2011 North American Manure Expo. Kevan Klingberg, University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms discusses how application of manure nutrients on frozen and snow-covered soils became such a hot issue. He also explains their research program that monitors surface water quality on commercial farms.  Lastly, he discusses the results of the research and how that information is being used to make management decisions on farms.  Note: The recording volume was set high on these segments. Start with your speaker volume on low and move it louder if needed.  Originally broadcast July 20, 2011. Continue reading “Spreading Manure In Winter. What Are the Risks?”