For livestock manure waste it is crucial to select a suitable storage and composting site because the large volume of material generated can have a negative impact on your health and the environment. Avoid low areas where surface water will flow or collect. Don't put your manure storage or compost pile under the eves of the stable or barn either, because when it rains it will pour clean water directly into the manure and contaminated water will flow out. Avoid areas that provide little or no obstacle for runoff from your storage or compost site to enter directly into surface or ground waters. The best storage and compost site is under a cover where moisture can be controlled. A tarp over the manure will eliminate most water runoff related problems.

Separation Distances Between Compost & Sensitive Areas

The table below relates to processing larger volumes of livestock manure rather than the smaller volumes of a single family home without livestock wastes. In either case the following sensitive areas should be considered when choosing a location for your compost pile. The table below suggests minimum distances between a compost pile and a sensitive area.

Minimum Separation Distances for Compost & Manure Handling

Sensitive Area
Minimum Separation Distance
Property Line
50 - 100 feet
Residence or Place of Business
200 - 500 feet
Private Well or Other Potable Water Source
100 - 200 feet
Wetlands or Surface Water (Streams, Ponds, Lakes)
100 - 200 feet
Drainage Ditch or Pipe with Discharge to Water Course
25 feet
Water Table (Seasonal High)
2 - 5 feet
2 - 5 feet
A good location is helpful for a successful compost pile. Direct sunlight in the summer dries the pile. Exposure to high winds can dry and cool the pile, slowing the decomposition process. The pile location should not interfere with lawn and garden activities. Water should be readily available. There should also be enough space for temporary storage of organic wastes. Good drainage is important; otherwise, standing water could impede the decomposition process. The compost pile should not be located against wooden buildings or trees; wood in contact with compost may decay.