Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Agricultural Performance Standards and Prohibitions

Agricultural operations may have adverse impacts on both land and water. To reduce these potential impacts, agricultural operations are required to meet county and statewide standards and prohibitions. Agricultural Performance Standards and Manure Management Chapter 49 (PDF), Dane County Code of Ordinances, incorporates the statewide performance standards and prohibitions addressing soil erosion and water quality concerns from all cropland and livestock operations in Dane County with a goal of protecting public health and safety as well as plant, animal, and aquatic life. 

Agricultural conservation practices may be necessary to aid landowners and producers in meeting the performance standards and prohibitions. In some cases, cost-share funding may be available to assist with costs associated to implement conservation practices. Staff are available to provide planning assistance, technical services, and evaluate funding opportunities for landowners and producers looking to install conservation practices. 


Summary of Standards and Prohibitions

The items listed below are a summary of the standards and prohibitions listed in the ordinance. For more information, see Chapter 49 (PDF), Dane County Code of Ordinances.


  • Sheet, rill, and wind erosion: all cropped fields shall meet the tolerable (T) soil erosion rate established for that soil.
  • Tillage setback: no tillage operations may be conducted within 5 feet of the top of the channel of surface waters.
  • Phosphorus index: croplands, pastures, and winter grazing areas shall average a phosphorus index of 6 or less over the accounting period and may not exceed a phosphorus index of 12 in any individual year within the accounting period.
  • Manure storage facilities: all new, substantially altered, or abandoned manure storage facilities shall be constructed, maintained, or closed in accordance with accepted standards. Failing and leaking existing facilities must be upgraded or replaced if they pose an imminent threat to public health, fish or aquatic life, or violate groundwater standards.
  • Process wastewater handling: no significant discharge of process wastewater to waters of the state.
  • Clean water diversions: runoff from agricultural buildings and fields shall be diverted away from feedlots, manure storage areas and barnyards located within water quality management areas (300 feet from a stream, 1,000 feet from a lake, or areas susceptible to groundwater contamination).
  • Nutrient management: agricultural operations applying nutrients to agricultural fields shall do so according to a nutrient management plan.


  • No overflow of manure storage facilities.
  • No unconfined manure piles in a water quality management area.
  • No direct runoff from feedlots or stored manure into state waters.
  • No unlimited livestock access to waters of the state in locations where high concentrations of animals prevent the maintenance of adequate or self-sustaining vegetative cover.