Storage and Handling

Manure storage structures are key to managing manure from animal feeding operations. The three most popular containments used in Nebraska are categorized into:

  • manure storages
  • anaerobic treatment lagoons
  • runoff retention structures

The quality, composition, and consistency of manure greatly influence livestock manure facility design. Handling characteristics often dictate the type of facility.

Most manure storage structures considered containments

  • Manure storages are structures that store manure and/or wastewater for a period of time (180 days is the current minimum for a new storage). A manure storage is designed to store raw manure.
  • They have no treatment volume, only enough storage for manure and wastewater for the storage period.Manure is managed as a slurry (milkshake consistency).
  • Because they do not have a treatment volume, manure storages tend to be more odorous than anaerobic lagoons and runoff retention structures.
  • Land application from manure storages is usually done with tank wagons, or pull-type injection equipment.

Anaerobic treatment lagoons commonly confused with earthen manure storages

  • An anaerobic treatment lagoon has additional volume, which dilutes manure so that naturally occurring bacteria can treat the manure.  These bacteria essentially reduce the manure to a liquid effluent, and sludge.
  • Lagoons are popular because they generate less odor than storages and the effluent is readily pump-able (watery consistency) for application to cropland using irrigation equipment.
  • Lagoons tend to be much larger than comparable manure storage because of the additional treatment volume: usually 2-4 times larger.

Runoff Retention Structures (Holding Ponds)

  • For feedlots, or open lots, runoff is collected in sediment basins, which remove solids and runoff is stored in runoff retention structures, or holding ponds.  The runoff is then irrigated to cropland during the growing season. 
  • An alternative treatment technology called Vegetative treatment systems, has been gaining acceptance in recent years as an alternative to retention ponds.  The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has led efforts to demonstrate Vegetative Treatment Systems for open lots.

Methane Digesters

A methane digester system, commonly referred to as an AD (anaerobic digester), is a device that promotes the decomposition of manure or 'digestion' of the organics in manure to simple organics and gaseous biogas products. Follow the link from this page to further information on this system.


For information about alternative treatment technologies related to containment, see the Small AFOs and Alternative Technologies Sections.

For permitting requirements of manure storage facilities, see the Manure Nutrient Management Section and the Nebraska Regulations section. 

For more information on manure storage structures, there are many related topics discussed in the Manure Matters newsletters.

National eXtension.org site offers more on handling and storage options for manure on its pages.



Information presented within the livestock manure management section of this Water Web site has been authored and/or reviewed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Manure Management Team members Leslie Johnson, Rick Koelsch, Charles Shapiro and Charles Wortmann.

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