Frequently Asked Questions:

What Agencies do I need to contact when building or purchasing a new facility?


ISDA recommends that you contact your county Planning and Zoning office to determine individual county requirement for siting, construction, approval, and/or permitting. Contact the Idaho State Department of Water Resources to determine the availability and or authorization of water for your dairy operation. If you are interested in obtaining an NPDES permit you will need to contact the Environmental Protection Agency. Finally, ISDA needs to be contacted before initial construction for new and expanding facilities and any changes in operation.

Also see Title 37, Chapter 3 Dairies and Dairy products.


What is a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP)?


A nutrient management plan is a required waste management practice to insure environmentally sound methods of applying nutrients produced on a dairy farm through land application. Every dairy farm is required to have an NMP. The basic requirements of this plan include:

  • Facility Summary

  • Site Plan

  • Land Application Site Plan

  • Waste Storage and Handling

  • Nutrient Management System

  • Irrigation Management


Who can write my NMP?


NMPs must be written by a certified nutrient management planner for Department approval. To become a certified planner, you must attend a four day certification course taught by NRCS, ISDA and U of I Extension. In addition to training, two NMPs must be written and approved by a certified planner before final certification.


Do I have to hire someone to write my NMP or will the state write it?


ISDA will write as many NMPs as resources and time allow. All new dairy facilities and permit changes must have an NMP.


How much will an NMP cost?


Depending on the nature and/or size of your operation, prices will vary.


What is required of me to develop an NMP?


Contact a certified nutrient management planner to set up the initial interview. This interview usually takes an hour. During this interview the planner will request information about your dairy operation, farming operation, historic soil testing data, and irrigation system. You may decrease the cost of your NMP by completing preliminary information for your planner. After the initial interview, the planner will design your NMP and follow up with an exit interview. During the exit interview the planner will explain the requirements of your NMP.


How will the NMP be utilized?


Regulatory soil testing will be conducted once every three years on land application sites owned and/or operated by the dairy farmer. If soil analysis indicates non-compliance with the NMP, regulatory action will be taken. Regulatory action may include altering the NMP, improving management practices or permit revocation.


When can I empty my lagoon?


Generally speaking, liquid waste application should begin with the first irrigation of the season and end with the last irrigation of the season. Application outside of this window of time is virtually prohibited unless otherwise specified in the facility’s NMP or authorized by ISDA.


How can I design my waste pond to minimize odor?


Generally speaking, the more organic loading in a waste storage pond, the more odor is generated. Decreasing the amount of solid waste and/or nutrients in the waste pond will lessen odors. There are many odor reduction techniques available.


Can solid manure be applied in the winter?


Application of solid waste during the winter is acceptable as long as the manure does not run off the field during storm events or snow melt. Manure applications on sloped fields should be incorporated immediately to prevent runoff. If manure or manure laded water leaves the property it is considered an unauthorized discharge.



Why do you have to line the pond with 15% clay? Won’t the manure seal the soil?


Testing has shown that manure will not adequately seal certain soil types. The Department has set the liner requirement of 15% clay to meet national guidlines (>8ft liquid depth). Due to increased hydraulic pressure on deeper waste storage ponds, additional testing and/or additional soil liner thickness will be required.


How close can I land apply nutrients to my neighbor’s property?


Idaho rules do not specifically address land application set backs. However, farmers should be very cautious about drift, odors, runoff, etc. Land application from neighboring wells should be a minimum of 100’. Dairymen should be sensitive of the relationship they have with their surrounding neighbors.


What are the required set backs for my waste containment system?


Set backs from roads, churches, schools, etc. may be determined by specific county ordinances. Certain counties, canal companies and irrigation districts have specified setback requirements for waste containment and handling systems. Waste containment systems must be a minimum of 100’ from any well and/or residence and 1000’ from any public water system. Waste containment systems must be a minimum of 100’ from a stream, unless downgradient.