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Preserving and regenerating the land

Preserving and regenerating the land

Iowa’s Smith family, owners of SFI Inc, have been on a decades-long quest

State Conservationist Terrance O. Rudolph of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Ricky Smith, president of the Limestone Valley Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council announced that a sign up for the North Georgia Poultry Energy Efficiency and Nutrient Management Planning Initiative for fiscal year 2019 is under way. The deadline for eligible poultry producers to apply is August 17, 2018.This north Georgia specific project is one of 88 projects across the country that was selected for funding two years ago through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The 18-county project area covers Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Towns, Union, Walker and Whitfield counties.Poultry producers looking to improve on-farm energy efficiency as well as water and soil quality through nutrient management, should visit their local USDA Service Center and submit their Conservation Program Application (NRCS-CPA-1200) before the August 17, 2018 deadline."We appreciate the RC&D Council's leadership in a successful implementation last year and are excited for them to join us for another year." said Rudolph. "By working together now, we will be better prepared to put the future Farm Bill's resources to work in these north Georgia communities sooner rather than later."The RC&d Council offsite link image covers most of northwest Georgia, but are leading a team of seven public and private partners during this three-year project that spans the northern rim of Georgia."Limestone Valley RC&D is proud to partner with the NRCS on Conservation projects. Year one of the RCPP poultry initiative was an overwhelming success," said Smith. We had numerous applications and we were able to fund several conservation minded farmers. We look forward to 2019 and the continuation of this good work."Created by the 2014 Farm Bill, the RCPP is a partner driven, locally-led approach to conservation. It offers new opportunities for USDA's NRCS to harness innovation, welcome new partners to the conservation mission, and demonstrates the value and efficacy of voluntary, private lands conservation.More information on NRCS conservation programs can be found at http://www.ga.nrcs.usda.govunder the Programs tab.
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln will conduct a project transforming manure and cedar mulch from waste to worth. The project is funded by a $132,663 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.Leading the research will be Amy Millmier Schmidt, assistant professor in biological systems engineering and animal science, and Rick Koelsch, professor in biological systems engineering and animal science. The project is designed to provide natural resource benefits to Nebraska through increased utilization of livestock manure and cedar mulch among crop farmers."When manure is applied to cropland at agronomic rates using recommended best management practices, it provides agronomic, soil health, and environmental benefits," said Schmidt.As the management of eastern red cedar trees has become a critical issue in many parts of the state, Schmidt and others have been studying practices that utilize the biomass created during forest management activities in ways that add value to this product."Combining wood chips with manure prior to land application could provide a market for the woody biomass generated during tree management activities and help offset the cost that landowners bear for tree removal," she said.The team's on-farm research to date has demonstrated that manure-mulch mixtures improve soil characteristics without negatively impacting crop productivity. This new award will allow an expanded project team to demonstrate the practice more widely throughout the state, complete an economic analysis of the practice, and engage high school students in educational experiences related to soil health, conservation and cedar tree management. It will also introduce the students to on-farm research for evaluating a proposed practice change."On-farm research is at the core of extension and research programs at land-grant universities like Nebraska," said Koelsch. "Giving high school students hands-on experience evaluating a practice to understand how it impacts farm profitability is a unique way to improve science literacy, critical thinking skills, and interest in agricultural careers."Outreach activities will focus on improving understanding among crop farmers of the benefits these amendments provide and motivating implementation of this new practice. The long-term goal of the project is to improve soil health properties for Nebraska soils, reduce nutrient losses to Nebraska water resources, and reduce eastern red cedar tree encroachment on Nebraska's pasture and grassland resources.The project is one of the 105 projects receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the Trust has provided over $289 million in grants to over 2,000 projects across the state.
On June 6, 2018, the Center for Limnology reported that a toxic algae bloom had begun to spread across Lake Mendota. It quickly led to the closure of beaches around Madison's largest lake.It also coincided with the launch of a new, four-year effort by Dane County, called Suck the Muck, designed to literally suck a century's-worth of phosphorus from 33-miles of streams that feed the county's lakes.Phosphorus, a nutrient found in the manure applied to agricultural fields, makes its way to Wisconsin waters (and waterways elsewhere) in runoff following rain storms. When the weather is warm, it can lead to the foul-smelling water and toxic algae blooms that plague lakes like Mendota, which is situated in an agricultural landscape.This runoff may be getting worse, according to a recent study from researchers with the Water Sustainability and Climate Project at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. With a changing climate, the frequency of high-intensity rain events is on the rise. These storms bring heavy rains over a short period of time and exacerbate phosphorus runoff from manure-covered agricultural fields, more so than scientists expected."Both things are bad for water quality – too much manure is bad and too many intense storms are bad, too," says lead author of the study in Environmental Research Letters, Melissa Motew. "This is a story about how one problem really compounds another problem."Indeed, the Lake Mendota algal bloom came on the heels of the second-wettest May in Madison's recorded history, and its eighth warmest. The National Weather Service reported that May 2018 was the wettest on record for the contiguous United States.But Motew didn't start out asking how heavy storms and manure interact synergistically to affect water quality. It was while studying legacy phosphorus in soils ­– the accumulation of the nutrient over time – that she and the research team noticed something interesting in the data."We knew that heavy rain transports a lot of phosphorus off of a field and in 2014, (co-author Stephen Carpenter, emeritus professor and director of CFL) found that a relatively small number of rain events each year were delivering the majority of phosphorus to the lakes," she explains. "We happened to notice that it seemed like when we had periods of heavy rainfall we were seeing worse water quality than we expected. It prompted us to set up this study."Climate change is bringing more intense rainfall across the U.S., particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. The 2014 study from Carpenter and colleagues showed that 74 percent of the phosphorus load in Lake Mendota is now delivered across just 29 days each year, and a 2016 study from scientists at Marylhurst University in Oregon and UW–Madison showed that annual precipitation in the Yahara watershed, which includes Lake Mendota, increased by 2.1 mm each year between 1930 and 2010.This amounts to an increase of about seven inches of additional rain today, Motew explains. That same study also showed that while the frequency of large storm events in the region averaged 9.5 events per decade between 1930 and 1990, between 1991 and 2010, the number of large storm events nearly doubled, reaching 18 events per decade.Using simulation models, Motew and the study team asked how more extreme rain events might interact with manure-and-fertilizer phosphorus supply on croplands to affect runoff at the level of an individual lake and the streams that feed it. That is, what happens when a given amount of rain falls on a field over the course of two hours instead of 24 hours?"The model lets us scale up and make interesting observations from the scale of one field to the entire watershed," she says. "Models let us home in and study the process of how phosphorus moves in great detail."Using two 60-year climate scenarios, one which assumed daily precipitation, maximum and minimum temperatures, wind speeds, relative humidity and solar radiation similar to current mean annual values in Madison, and another assuming more extreme rain events, Motew's model explored what happens to phosphorus concentrations in Lake Mendota and its tributary streams under low- and high-intensity precipitation conditions.It took into account the real-life practices of farmers in the watershed – including their typical fertilizer and manure applications and tillage practices, the amount of phosphorus already stored in the surface layers of the soil, and the composition of the land around Lake Mendota. More than half of the land surrounding it is agricultural.Motew found that dissolved phosphorus – the kind found in manure, as compared to other fertilizers and that found in soil – combined synergistically with heavy rain events to increase the amount of phosphorus running off into Lake Mendota and its streams."This puts us at even greater risk of worsening water quality," says Christopher Kucharik, study co-author and Motew's former graduate advisor. "This result also has wide-reaching implications because the synergistic relationship will likely be present in many agricultural watersheds around the world, where livestock and surface water co-exist."Phosphorus is a critical nutrient for living organisms like crops. But what it does on land, it also does in water: encourages growth of organisms like plants and algae. When they die, these organisms fall to the bottom of an affected waterway, decomposing and consuming oxygen. This kills wildlife and encourages the growth of cyanobacteria, the organism behind toxic algae blooms. In some parts of the country, it can lead to dead zones, like in the Gulf of Mexico.Farmers in Dane County and elsewhere are already applying less manure and doing so more precisely, Motew says, and she is hopeful these strategies will help to reduce phosphorus runoff from their croplands.Motew, who is now a research fellow at The Nature Conservancy, also thinks farmers should be a part of continuing efforts to improve water quality. "We need to partner more with farmers so we can not only improve our own research by using better data, but so we can work together and build on their ideas, too." she says. "They know the problems up-close-and-personal and can provide insights we haven't considered. We as scientists can help explore where those insights may lead."Motew adds: "Farmers are key to solving the problem, even though they are frequently blamed. We all need to take responsibility for our food system and find ways to support farmers in better manure management."The study was supported by the National Science Foundation (grant numbers DEB-1038759 and DEB-1440297).
Sharon, Wisconsin – AQUA Innovations is proud to announce Son-Bow Farms as the first farm in Wisconsin to install its fully commercialized NuWay nutrient concentration system. The company has had systems running in other states, such as Oregon, for nearly eight years.The AQUA Innovations NuWay nutrient concentration system eases the pain of managing dairy manure with an all mechanical separation process. The proprietary system is capable of reclaiming over 50 per cent of manure as distilled water without the use of harmful chemicals.Another by-product of the process is organic super nutrient fertilizer, which contains sought-after nutrients like nitrogen and potassium with virtually no phosphorus or pathogens. This diminishes a farmer's dependence on chemicals by allowing them to care for crops using the super nutrient water by-product during the growing season."The NuWay system is environmentally compliant, customizable to any dairy operation and provides 24/7 remote monitoring and support from AQUA Innovations," said Chris Lenzendorf, president of AQUA Innovations.This technology reduces the need to haul and store manure to later be spread on fields as fertilizer, which not only minimizes the smell of manure, but also the cost of transporting it.Jay and Kristi Richardson of Son-Bow Farms, located outside of Spring Valley, Wisconsin, are the first dairy operators in the state to embrace this innovative technology from AQUA Innovations."We had been looking for a system to decrease our manure hauling costs for many years," said Jay Richardson, Son-Bow Farms' owner. "The financial impact is huge for us, no doubt about it. The synergies that this system allow are not only financial but environmental and neighbor friendly as well."Former Governor Tommy Thompson and Green Bay Packers legend Frank Winters also back the technology as partners at AQUA Innovations."Jay and Kristi should be applauded for being pioneers and thinking about not only how to better their farm, but also the environment," said Frank Winters, AQUA Innovations shareholder. "I truly believe AQUA Innovations' technology and process will change the way dairy operators handle cow manure, not only here in the great state of Wisconsin, but across the globe."
Auburn University's College of Agriculture, in conjunction with other schools around the nation, will conduct a study to ensure that poultry litter does not pollute surface waters with excessive amounts of phosphorous.The three-year study is being performed to combat the 1.8 million tons of waste produced annually in Alabama from its $15 billion poultry industry.Phosphorous-rich poultry litter is a big concern in Alabama and other states where the litter is used to fertilize fields. If the nutrient leaks into waterways, it can cause toxic algae blooms which can lead to deficient oxygen levels and destruction of life in the water.The study will look at the Sand Mountain region of North Alabama and a row-crop field in Wisconsin, two large agro-ecosystems that are currently having issues with managing their phosphorous levels. | For the full story, CLICK HERE. 
Durand, Wisconsin — A group of Pepin County citizens is using the time provided by a moratorium on large-scale livestock facilities to offer solutions to a potential threat to groundwater that could occur when the moratorium expires if such a facility were to expand or move into the county.The Neighborhood Ladies, an ad hoc group of Pepin County citizens concerned about the county's groundwater, is working to inform citizens and local officials on the levels of nitrates in groundwater and the health problems associated with nitrate contamination. According to a news release from the group, their goal is, through research, to stop the practices that are eroding the county's water quality and to promote alternative farming methods that protect groundwater. | READ MORE
What if odor from swine confinement barns could be reduced by 65 percent or more?It's possible with trees and technology, according to Iowa Select Farms, which is incorporating evergreens and innovative electrostatic fencing at its new 4,800-head Hale Finisher Farm near Williams.The odor associated with pork production is often transported on dust particles from hog barns. Planting trees and shrubs planted around hog facilities helps reduce odor, improve site aesthetics and helps control snow deposition. Iowa State University research shows that trees can help reduce swine barn odors by 10 to 15 percent. | READ MORE
Iowa State University researchers have completed testing of a new concept for disposing of animal carcasses following a disease outbreak.
Dover, Delaware – Approximately $1 million in conservation funding assistance is now available to help beginning farmers in Kent County address poultry mortality management on their farming operation. The funding – for implementing water quality best management practices including composters and mortality freezers to address routine mortality – comes through a program led by the Kent Conservation District in cooperation with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Department of Agriculture (DDA), and the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).Proper poultry mortality management is critical to prevent leaching of nutrients, spreading of disease, and attracting vermin. The beginning farmer poultry mortality management project administrated by the USDA's NRCS will improve water quality, biosecurity, and also will help Delaware meet the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for nutrients in the county's waterways.Financial assistance in Kent County is made available recognizing that beginning farmers face significant startup costs, and that there is a backlog of applicants awaiting approval through financial assistance programs for composters, mortality freezers, poultry manure structures, and heavy-use area protection pads.To qualify, beginning farmers must meet the eligibility requirements of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Interested beginning farmers are encouraged to visit the Kent Conservation District office at 800 Bay Road, Suite 2, Dover, DE 19901 to sign up for the program. All applications are batched monthly and expedited through the contract process in order to implement water quality BMPs in a timely manner.Funding is through a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project led by the Kent Conservation District, DNREC's Division of Watershed Stewardship and Watershed Assessment and Management Section, the DDA's Nutrient Management Program, and the Delmarva Poultry Industry. In addition, Farm Freezers LLC and Greener Solutions LLC are offering a $100 rebate per freezer unit purchased through the program, along with a collection fee rebate of $100 per flock for one year after installation.For more information, please contact Timothy Riley, district coordinator, Kent Conservation District at 302-741-2600, ext. 3, or visit www.kentcd.org
Not the first thing you think of when you see elephant dung, but this material turns out to be an excellent source of cellulose for paper manufacturing, scientists report. And in regions with plenty of farm animals, upcycling manure into paper products could be a cheap and environmentally sound method to use manure.
Fine Swine knows how to do things large. In 2017, the Ohio-based swine farm with more than 11 locations and 30,000 sows, built a 6,200-head sow gestation barn, incorporating a dual permanent mass agitation system.
Farmers and manure managers in North America have known for years that phosphorus is a huge concern, but solutions for handling this nutrient have not come easy. Hauling manure away to locations where fields aren’t already saturated isn’t always practical or cost-effective.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is reminding livestock producers to review changes made to standard animal weights that take effect in 2019.These new weights could reclassify some livestock farms as Concentrated Animal Operations (CAOs) or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), requiring those farms to adopt new levels of compliance with nutrient management laws. | READ MORE 
Madison, WI - New rule revisions designed to reduce manure groundwater contamination, specifically in the northeast section of the state, took effect July 1.The changes, under the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' ch. NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code, relate to Silurian bedrock, which are areas where the soil depth to bedrock is shallow and the bedrock may be fractured."The main purpose of this targeted performance standards is to reduce the risk for contamination in groundwater from manure applications on shallow bedrock soils," said Mary Anne Lowndes, DNR Watershed Management Section chief.Lowndes said Silurian bedrock soils identified in the rule revisions are dolomite bedrock with a depth of 20 feet or less. The rule targets an area in the state that may include portions of Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha counties."Within a specified area, the rule sets forth manure spreading rates and practices that vary according to the soil depth and texture," said Lowndes. "For Silurian bedrock, the most restrictive practices apply to those limited areas with the highest risk for pathogen delivery, zero to five feet in depth, and less restrictive requirements apply in areas with five to 20 feet to bedrock."Lowndes added that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the Silurian bedrock areas will be required to comply with the standards in the new rule, when it is incorporated into their permit under the Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES), and a cross reference to the targeted performance standard language has also been added to ch. NR 243, Wis. Adm. Code., which applies to CAFOs subject to WPDES permitting. Non-permitted farms in Silurian bedrock areas will also be required to comply with the standards in the rule.Lowndes added the DNR has worked with the University of Wisconsin Department of Soil Science to offer a Silurian bedrock map (exit DNR) tool that can be used to identify areas where the bedrock soil depth is less than 20 feet, and that the department is working with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection and county land conservation departments on how best to implement the new rules.The new rule is based on a long-term effort by the department to seek public input on changes to NR 151, including conducting studies, public meetings and hearings and hosting a technical advisory committee and Groundwater Collaboration Workgroup that met between 2015-2017.
The foul scent of manure is a fact of life in the country. Sometimes it smells like home. Other times the stink is bad enough to wrinkle your nose as you urgently roll up the car windows.Odor management rules are among the many regulations defining how animal farmers handle never ending piles of manure or the way it is spread on fields for fertilizer.The spread of manure by Pennsylvania farmers is regulated to keep pollutants from seeping into the air and waterways.A bill moving quickly through the state Legislature would remove an advisory panel with input on those regulations, the Nutrient Management Advisory Board, and replace it with a new panel, the Farm Animal Advisory Board, broadening the scope of oversight and changing the make-up of the members to mostly large farmers. The move minimizes the role of environmentalists, critics say. | READ MORE
Montpelier, Vermont - The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM, the Agency) has issued a revised Medium Farm Operation (MFO) General Permit (GP), following a lengthy information gathering and revision process. The MFO GP sets standards for MFOs in the State of Vermont generating animal waste to ensure they do not have a discharge of waste to the waters of the State and operate in accordance with their Nutrient Management Plan. Unless otherwise given notice by the Agency, all farms meeting the definition of a MFO in the State of Vermont are required to operate under the coverage of this GP.All MFOs must follow the Required Agricultural Practices (RAPs) in addition to requirements outlined in the MFO GP. The revision process focused on streamlining the MFO GP with the RAPs, removing duplicative language, and increasing the focus on nutrient management plan recordkeeping for MFOs. All MFOs currently covered, or farms seeking coverage under the MFO GP, must submit a new Notice of Intent to Comply (NOIC) within 180 calendar days from the issuance of a new MFO GP.Hence, MFOs should submit a new NOIC by December 12, 2018. All forms referenced in the MFO GP, including the NOIC, can be found on the Agency's website (http://agriculture.vermont.gov/mfo) or by contacting the Agency Water Quality Division. These forms are subject to revision so the applicant, prior to use of a form referenced in this MFO GP, should always consult the website listed above or the Agency Water Quality Division to make sure that they are using the current version.The Agency is required to update the MFO GP every five years as outlined in MFO program rules. The current MFO GP was issued in 2012 and was therefore due for updating; the 2012 MFO GP continued in force and effect until the new MFO GP was issued. The MFO GP was established in 2007 and underwent revision for the first time in 2012. The newly revised MFO GP will be effective from 2018 to 2023.For more information about the MFO GP revision process, to find the associated MFO GP Forms, or to read the newly revised MFO GP in full, please visit: http://agriculture.vermont.gov/mfo
Columbus, Ohio – It may not be a popular solution, but a recent study from The Ohio State University shows the least costly way to cut nearly half the phosphorus seeping into Lake Erie is taxing farmers on phosphorous purchases or paying farmers to avoid applying it to their fields.Doctoral student Shaohui Tang and Brent Sohngen, a professor of agricultural economics, conducted the study in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).At a projected price tag of up to $20 million annually, a phosphorus subsidy to Ohio farmers or a phosphorus tax would be far cheaper than many of the proposed measures being recommended to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie, Sohngen said. These proposals are estimated to cost anywhere from $40 million per year to $290 million per year, in addition to the $32 million spent on current conservation practices.Phosphorus spurs the growth of harmful algal blooms, which poisoned Toledo's drinking water in 2014 and impact the lake's recreation, tourism and real-estate values.A tax on phosphorus would be an added expense for farmers and "not many people want to talk about it," Sohngen said. "From an economics standpoint, it is the cheapest option."The money generated from a tax on phosphorus, which would be paid by farmers, could be partially returned to farmers for using conservation measures on their land. It could also compensate others affected by the water quality issue including Toledo and lake area residents to pay for improved water treatment and fishing charter businesses that lose income when algal blooms are severe.Sohngen presented the estimated costs associated with different methods of cutting phosphorus sources to Lake Erie during a recent conference hosted the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics within CFAES.Each of the options Sohngen presented is aimed at cutting the phosphorus runoff entering Lake Erie by 40 percent within 10 years, a goal the state has been aiming for but has not yet reached."If we want to achieve a 40 percent reduction, it's going to be more expensive than most people imagine," Sohngen said.Costlier options than the phosphorus tax and subsidy include reducing phosphorus application on fields by 50 percent statewide and incorporating any phosphorus into the soil so it does not remain on the surface. The price tag on that option is $43.7 million for the machinery needed to incorporate phosphorus and the incentive paid to farmers for not using phosphorus, Sohngen said.Requiring subsurface placement of phosphorus on only half the region's farmland acres would cost $49.9 million, he said.All figures were generated by a mathematical model created by Tang, working under the direction of Sohngen.In recent years, high levels of phosphorus, a nutrient in fertilizer, manure and sewage, have led to harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie as well as in Ohio's inland lakes including Grand Lake St. Marys.Some measures that have been tried in the state have had little impact on reducing the phosphorus load into Lake Erie, Sohngen said. They include planting cover crops on fields during winter and refraining from tilling the land to prevent erosion."We're at the point of a phase shift, of having more information to give us better focus on where we need to turn our attention," said Gail Hesse, director of water programs for the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes Regional Center.Hesse, who was the keynote speaker at the conference where Sohngen presented his findings, noted that agriculture is the predominant source of the phosphorus going into Lake Erie.Climate change, including the increase in intense rainfalls over short periods, has worsened efforts to keep phosphorus out of Lake Erie because rainfall can increase the chances of phosphorus running off a field with the rainwater, she pointed out."We don't have enough practices in place across the landscape," she said. "We still have more to do."
A national manure management emergency was recently averted in the United States with the passage in March of the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act, thwarting attempts by some environmental groups to categorize farms on the same plane as heavy industry as it relates to potential toxic air emissions.
Regina, Sask – Despite their reputation, flatulent cows aren’t capable of destroying the world, an environmental politics professor argues in a forthcoming research paper. But still, livestock are saddled with an outsized share of the blame for climate change. And if that misunderstanding persists, and pushes policymakers to force a societal shift from meat-eating, it could lead to disaster, says Ryan Katz-Rosene at the University of Ottawa’s school of political studies. READ MORE
Annapolis, MD – The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently addressed an appeal of a Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County decision upholding Maryland Department of the Environment permits for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program. Food and Water Watch and the Assateague Coastal Trust challenged Maryland’s permit restrictions both during open public comments before promulgation and in Circuit Court following the permits finalization. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to delegate Clean Water Act permitting requirements to the states. The states may promulgate regulations with a narrower scope. The issue in this case was whether MDE’s restriction was consistent with the requirements with state and federal laws, including the CWA. READ MORE
A week spent in a feedyard pen is helping researchers gain a better understanding of greenhouse gas emissions. Their goal is to improve the national inventory of greenhouse gases and determine potential mitigation measures.Texas A&M AgriLife Research and the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service are collaborating to analyze nitrous oxide and methane emissions from an area feedyard pen.Dr. Ken Casey, AgriLife Research air quality engineer in Amarillo, and Dr. David Parker and Dr. Heidi Waldrip, USDA-ARS livestock nutrient management researchers at Bushland, spent the better part of a week sitting inside a feedyard pen just vacated by cattle.The project is funded by USDA-ARS and AgriLife Research, with instrumentation used in the study partly supported by the Texas Cattle Feeders Association.Using six automated chambers, more than 575 automated flux measurements were taken, as were 60 manual flux measurements from separate static chambers, to help monitor nitrous oxide and methane gas emissions. Halfway through the experiment, a half-inch of water was applied to the pen surface within the measurement chamber bases to simulate a rainfall."We're looking to understand better what controls nitrous oxide and methane coming off feedlot pen surfaces," Casey said. "We're interested in the emissions of these gases because of their contribution to climate change. We want to improve the national emissions inventories as they pertain to greenhouse gases from feedyards in the Texas High Plains."Secondly, we are also very interested in obtaining a better mechanistic understanding of the evolution of these gases from the pen surfaces. What controls the release of these gases? If we are able to gain a better understanding of that, then we will potentially be able to provide advice to the industry about mitigation practices when it comes to pen management."Casey said their testing demonstrated areas of the pen with shallower manure packs on the surface primarily emitted nitrous oxide, while two chambers sitting over deeper manure where the pen drain was located emitted almost no nitrous oxide, but were emitting methane."We are trying to understand the interplay of those two gases, because the processes that are producing them are related," he said.The different factors that influence the creation and release of the gases include temperature, moisture content and the amount of manure on the pen surface, Casey said."By understanding how those factors play together in the production of those gases, we can develop a greater understanding and potentially develop mitigation strategies," he said."However, it's complicated, because a strategy that reduces one emission may in fact increase the other. So our understanding of the production of these gases and the environmental factors that influence them are important."During the study, gas samples were collected twice a day from the static chambers and then taken to Casey's air quality lab to be analyzed on a gas chromatograph. Six automated chambers took measurements each hour, around the clock. The automated chambers were linked through a multiplexer to automated nitrous oxide and methane analyzers."We know emissions are influenced by temperature, and by taking diurnal measurements, we can understand the variability throughout the day and night, as well as that of the effects of moisture."The week of measurements is only part of ongoing research being conducted by Casey and Parker. Casey said the results will be reported to the industry, as well as in various journals along the way, and will be used for extended air quality research.Parker said their research is also relevant to manure quality."Not only is this research important for greenhouse gas emissions, but through this and ongoing laboratory studies, we are learning more about nutrient transformations and water losses from the feedyard surface," he said.
With farms, woods, wildlife and fresh air, rural residents cherish the charm and beauty of the countryside. Many people move from cities seeking peace and a pristine environment in the country.Most people understand that a rural community includes farmers and that farming is a business. Ontario's agriculture and food sector employs 760,000 people and contributes more than $35 billion to the province's economy every year. This means that certain activities take place according to a production schedule; and some affect residents living close to farms. In almost all cases, farmers and their rural neighbours get along well together. However, there are some exceptions.For the year of 2015- 2016 the ministry received 107 complaints related to farm practices. Of these, 45 (40 percent) were about odour, while the others were mainly about noise (26 percent), flies (19 percent) and municipal by-laws (nine percent).Odour complaints are generally related to: Farmers spreading manure on fields Fans ventilating livestock barns Manure piles Mushroom farms To manage conflict about farm practices, the Ontario government enacted the Farming and Food Production Protection Act (FFPPA). This act establishes the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (NFPPB) to determine "normal farm practices". When a person complains about odour or other nuisance from a particular farming practice, the board has the authority to hear the case and decide whether the practice is a "normal farm practice". If it is, the farmer is protected from any legal action regarding that practice.When people make complaints about farm practices, a regional agricultural engineer or environmental specialist from OMAFRA's Environmental Management Branch works with all parties involved to resolve the conflict. The board requires that any complaint go through this conflict resolution process before it comes to a hearing.Each year, through the conflict resolution process, OMAFRA staff have resolved the vast majority of complaints. In 2015-16, only twelve of the 107 cases resulted in hearings before the board. Of these, only two were odour cases involving multiple nuisances such as noise, dust and flies. Thus, while odours remain the biggest cause of complaints about farm practices, OMAFRA staff working through the conflict resolution process has proved very effective in dealing with them.
Ames, IA ― As June approaches, some northern areas of Iowa have experienced delays in corn planting due to a cold spring that turned wet. Producers considering changes to crop rotation should pay attention to the impact it has on manure management plans. The Iowa Administrative Code only allows a maximum of 100 pounds N per acre manure application on ground to be planted to soybean. However, it does allow fields that had liquid manure applied at rates intended for growing corn to be switched to soybean on or after June 1 with no penalty of over-application of manure nitrogen. Thus if a field planned for corn has not been planted and will be switched to soybean, this can be done. Producers should document the changes in crop rotation, application methods and other changes in their annual manure management plans. Given it has been a wet spring in some areas, nutrient management and specifically, nitrogen loss may be top of mind. Livestock producers with Iowa Department of Natural Resources [DNR] manure management plans are reminded if they have already applied the maximum nitrogen rate to the field, they can’t apply additional sources of nitrogen unless the need is confirmed by the use of a Late Spring Nitrate Test. This test measures nitrate-N concentration at the 0 to 12-inch depth. Results can be interpreted by the ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Use of the Late-Spring Soil Nitrate Test in Iowa Corn Production” (CROP 3140), which considers both the original fertilizer source and the amount of rain that occurred in May (excessive is more than five inches in May). When adding extra nitrogen, be sure to document soil sample results and reference the publication to interpret the test results in management plans. While fall provided favorable application conditions, and periods in March were favorable, producers should plan ahead if not as much manure as normal is applied in the spring. Having a plan in place will help prevent potential issues from turning into problems. Keep an eye on storage, and have a plan for needed action.
February 28, 2018, Boardman, OR – Oregon's newest mega-dairy has repeatedly endangered nearby drinking water by violating environmental laws and should be shut down immediately, the state alleges in a lawsuit. The operation opened in April 2017 near Boardman along the Columbia River in north central Oregon to supply the Tillamook County Creamery Association, which makes Tillamook Cheese. Since then the dairy has failed numerous inspections, has been cited four times and has been fined $10,640. READ MORE
In early June, Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced the Carbon Utilization Act of 2018 which will incentivize emerging carbon utilization technologies, such as digesters and carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) by providing increased access to USDA loan guarantees, research programs, and rural development loans. The bill will create education and research programs and encourage interagency collaboration to advance these technologies. The American Biogas Council praised its introduction as the programs within it can help farms become more resilient and sustainable.Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) said, "As we look to the future of clean energy, we must invest in innovative, secure, and low-carbon technologies—especially in rural communities. We will work to include these energy provisions in the Farm Bill to provide funding for projects that create jobs, secure our electricity systems, and combat climate change. We must ensure that rural communities are included in the clean energy economy."Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island (D) added: "Experts agree that transforming pollutants into something useful ought to be part of our fight against climate change. That's why we need to help promising carbon capture and biogas technologies compete in new markets, like on farms and at other rural businesses. This bill will help those technologies find new uses in agriculture while reducing carbon and methane pollution, benefiting both our climate and the rural economy. That's a clear win-win.""We are grateful for the leadership and vision of Senators Bennet and Whitehouse in recognizing the significant benefit that biogas systems can provide our country," said Patrick Serfass, ABC's executive director. "A robust agriculture industry is essential to American prosperity. Like biogas systems help our nation's farms, the Carbon Utilization Act of 2018 will strengthen farming operations, increase sustainability and create new revenue streams to help protect family farm operations, especially during commodity price swings."
A family is turning the hog manure into methane to power the family farm, reduce greenhouse emissions and generate income.Lisa and Drew Remley of Remley Farms held an open house to unveil the new 20,000-gallon anaerobic methane digester.Power from the biodigester power will reduce the farm's $3,000-$3,500 monthly electric bill. | READ MORE
This February was the celebration of a great partnership of California dairies and California Bioenergy (CalBio).
You can think of an anaerobic digester as a big metal stomach. Biodegradables go in, get composted, and turned into energy. And now, the hope is that the waste turns into a profit.Matthew Freund, president of Freund's Farm in East Canaan, said that anaerobic digestion technology let him diversify his business. A unit built in 1997 took in cow manure and allowed him to create a new product: biodegradable seed planters called "CowPots." | READ MORE
Installation and construction are complete on a DVO Inc. anaerobic digester at Ar-Joy Farm, a dairy farm in Cochranville, Pennsylvania.This is DVO's first installation in Pennsylvania, bringing the number of states with a DVO digester to 19. Its patented digester system has also been constructed in six foreign countries.Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a collection of processes by which naturally occurring microorganisms transform waste into valuable byproducts in a controlled, oxygen-free environment.DVO's patented Two-Stage Linear Vortex anaerobic digester is unlike any other technology. Traditional AD technologies featuring above-ground tanks are inefficient and costly to operate."We are honored to be working with Marilyn and Duane Hershey (owners of Ar-Joy), a couple long admired in their community and acclaimed in the dairy industry for their advocacy and leadership. Marilyn serves as chair of Dairy Management, Inc. and in 2017 was named Dairy Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo. Duane serves on the Land O'Lakes Board of Directors," said Steve Dvorak, president of DVO. "We know they are dedicated to environmental sustainability and are proud they chose to implement DVO's digester technology."The DVO anaerobic digester processes the waste from Ar-Joy's 700 milking cows, as well as local organic waste streams. Currently the farm is adding waste from a potato chip company three times a week and is seeking additional feedstocks for the digester.The biogas generated from the waste streams is powering a 300-kW gen-set which delivers renewable electricity to the local grid. The farm has a net-metering program with its local utility which allows the farm to lower its electrical costs by off-setting the power from its electrical meters. Any excess generated power not used by the dairy is sold to the utility.The dairy is utilizing the separated digested solids for bedding, having previously bedded with sand. The digested liquid is stored in a lagoon to be applied as fertilizer on to growing crops, increasing crop yield and reducing the likelihood of nutrient runoff."The digester provides us a variety of environmental benefits, such as producing power and recycling waste. A big driver for us was the ability to expand our operation and bring in additional revenue without adding cows," explained Duane Hershey. "The community response to our digester has been real positive. When the neighbors come down and see it, they get excited. They all say we need more of these digesters on farms."Learn more about DVO's solutions for agricultural wastes and renewable energy here, http://www.dvoinc.com/
Kinston, NC - Many homes in Eastern North Carolina may now be powered by an alternative source of energy that uses a mixture of natural gas and swine-derived biogas.A switch thrown last week by Duke Energy infused methane captured from Duplin County hog lagoons into a natural gas pipeline.Optima KV is the project developer and has partnered with Duke Energy to supply the energy and Smithfield Foods to donate the land for a facility to collect the hog methane. Once collected, the gas is cleaned and injected into the natural gas pipeline to serve two Duke Energy plants in Eastern North Carolina.The project is expected to generate about 11,000 megawatts-hours of renewable energy annually, enough to power about 880 homes for a year, according to the N.C. Pork Council. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Marin County, Calif. - On one organic dairy farm, the feed truck runs on cow power."I was able to put together a fully electric truck to feed the cows that's powered by the cow's waste. We claim that's the first one in the world to do that," says Albert Straus, CEO of Straus Family Creamery in Marin County, California.When cow manure breaks down, it releases methane, a potent global warming gas. But that methane can be captured and used to make electricity. Using technology called a methane digester, Strauss has been converting his cow's manure into energy for the last 14 years. The process produces enough electricity to power the whole farm. And now, that energy is also being used to charge his electric truck. | For the full story, CLICK HERE
Calgren Dairy Fuels is becoming known as a world leader in biogas production and utilization, with good reason. Of the 18 dairy digester projects that were recently awarded more than $35 million in funding by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, seven of them involve Calgren.
For a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln chemical and biomolecular engineering students, biogas refining isn’t just a senior design capstone project, it’s a potential means of supplying Nebraska’s rural communities with a renewable source of energy that comes from resources that are both local and plentiful.
Nutrient management plans are all but required on most large farms these days in the United States, which is why it is not so uncommon anymore for dairy farms with multiple locations to have more than one anaerobic digester to treat their raw manure.
Farm manure could be a viable source of renewable energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.Researchers at the University of Waterloo are developing technology to produce renewable natural gas from manure so it can be added to the existing energy supply system for heating homes and powering industries. That would eliminate particularly harmful gases released by naturally decomposing manure when it is spread on farm fields as fertilizer and partially replace fossil natural gas, a significant contributor to global warming."There are multiple ways we can benefit from this single approach," said David Simakov, a professor of chemical engineering at Waterloo. "The potential is huge."Simakov said the technology could be viable with several kinds of manure, particularly cow and pig manure, as well as at landfill sites.In addition to being used by industries and in homes, renewable natural gas could replace diesel fuel for trucks in the transportation sector, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.To test the concept, researchers built a computer model of an actual 2,000-head dairy farm in Ontario that collects manure and converts it into biogas in anaerobic digesters. Some of that biogas is already used to produce electricity by burning it in generators, reducing the environmental impact of manure while also yielding about 30 to 40 percent of its energy potential.Researchers want to take those benefits a significant step further by upgrading, or converting, biogas from manure into renewable natural gas. That would involve mixing it with hydrogen, then running it through a catalytic converter. A chemical reaction in the converter would produce methane from carbon dioxide in the biogas.Known as methanation, the process would require electricity to produce hydrogen, but that power could be generated on-site by renewable wind or solar systems, or taken from the electrical grid at times of low demand. The net result would be renewable natural gas that yields almost all of manure's energy potential and also efficiently stores electricity, but has only a fraction of the greenhouse gas impact of manure used as fertilizer."This is how we can make the transition from fossil-based energy to renewable energy using existing infrastructure, which is a tremendous advantage," said Simakov, who collaborates with fellow chemical engineering professor Michael Fowler.The modelling study showed that a $5-million investment in a methanation system at the Ontario farm would, with government price subsidies for renewable natural gas, have about a five-year payback period.A paper on modelling of a renewable natural gas generation facility at the Ontario farm, which also involved a post-doctoral researcher and several Waterloo students, was recently published in the International Journal of Energy Research.
March 2, 2018, Wooster, OH — A rural community in northcentral Ohio is divided over plans to build a 10 million gallon waste lagoon on a farm north of Wooster. Quasar Energy, which operates the anaerobic digester on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, plans to construct the storage pond. The earthen-lined lagoon would hold both anaerobically digested biosolids and up to 300,000 gallons of hog manure annually from the landowner’s hog farm, according to the permit application. Supporters say it will provide a source of organic fertilizer. Opponents fear it could lead to issues with groundwater contamination, odor and traffic. READ MORE
Manure Manager strives to provide U.S. and Canadian livestock producers plus custom applicators with timely information to help them manage their businesses in the most efficient, safe and economical way possible. Whether through our printed publication, website or social media accounts, we do our best to keep you in the know about manure management issues.As a reader, we are requesting your help.Manure Manager is currently conducting an online survey and we're hoping you can find some time during your busy schedules to take part. Whether you're a dairy, beef, hog or poultry producer; a custom manure applicator, an academic or an industry support person, we want and value your feedback.The information you provide will remain confidential, secure and will help provide a snapshot of the state-of-the-industry plus provide us with valuable feedback about what you would like to see more of inside these pages or online.The survey is live now and will be available at manuremanager.com/survey until August 17.Everyone who takes the time to complete the survey will be entered into a draw for $500.Thank-you in advance for your valuable insights and opinions.
Bernie Teunissen recently made a major technological investment in his 3,800-cow dairy to ensure its operations will remain sustainable long into the future.Teunissen, who runs Caldwell-based Beranna Dairy with his sons Bernard and Derek, had been disposing of manure by vacuuming it into a 5,000-gallon tank, mounted on a tractor, and spreading it on their nearby farm fields.But after years of applications, the family's fields were approaching maximum nutrient limits, especially for phosphorus.To remedy the problem, Teunissen and his family installed a high-tech system that separates the solid waste from manure for conversion into a high-value - and easily manageable - compost, some of which they sell to neighbors' farms and orchards. | READ MORE
Garden pots that are made from cow manure, containing nitrogen, and biodegradable. In the northwest hills of Connecticut is a second-generation dairy farm run by two brothers, Matt and Ben Freund, who saw the potential of the idea, and made it happen.The brothers milk 300 Holstein cows with five robotic milking units. With the variable profitability of a dairy farm and increased regulations on nutrient management, Matt Freund started to look for other ways to be sustainable on their farm and to make better use of the manure that his cows were producing. | READ MORE
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards is an opportunity for the industry to recognize how innovation and creativity sparked by one farm, one person or one organization can have a ripple effect that goes well beyond their farm gate or front door.This year, the seventh-annual awards celebration took place in Lombard, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, to honor the dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. This year's winners addressed water quality, manure management, recycling and more. | READ MORE
Pilgrim's Pride - second-largest chicken producer in the world – will face a shareholder resolution calling on the company to curb water pollution from its operations and supply chain. The demand for action comes after the company settled a citizens' suit from Environment America for $1.43 million for dumping toxic wastewater into Florida's Suwannee River."Pollution should not be a matter of pride for Pilgrims," said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America. "Will Pilgrim's Pride clean up its coop or chicken out on its responsibility to stop fouling America's waterways?"Pilgrim's Pride operations and supply chain, which processes roughly 37 million birds per week, is responsible for significant water pollution in several states, including Texas, Florida, and Virginia. In addition to millions of pounds of manure and runoff from feed production, the company's own processing plants dump pollution directly into our rivers and streams. In 2014 alone, Pilgrim's Pride facilities dumped more than half a million pounds of toxic pollutants into U.S. waterways, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory.Investors are citing this track-record of pollution as they urge Pilgrims to adopt a corporate policy to reduce its water pollution at the shareholder meeting in Greeley, Colorado. Pilgrim's Pride is owned by the Brazil-based meat conglomerate JBS, which controls a majority of shares that will vote on resolutions at the meeting. The water pollution footprint of Pilgrims Pride and JBS combined included more than 45 million tons of manure (in 2015) and 37 million pounds of toxic discharges to waterways (from 2010-2014)."Pilgrim's Pride has a long and well-documented record of water pollution that has resulted in record fines, costly restitution of rivers and streams and negative press that has seriously compromised the brand's image," said Anna Falkenberg, representative of the Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust, the lead filer of the shareholder proposal. "Of even greater concern is the public health risk created by the company's systematic dumping of dangerous contaminants and its regular fouling of local waterways threatening communities' human right to water. Had a comprehensive water stewardship policy been adopted much earlier as shareholders have been recommending, these financial and reputational challenges could have been avoided."Last year, Pilgrim's Pride agreed to pay $1.43 million to settle a case brought by Environment America's state affiliate in Florida, which alleged 1,377 days of Clean Water Act violations since 2012, all from discharging wastewater into the river that exceeds pollution standards by as much as triple the legal limits.
Hiawatha, KS – AgJunction, Inc., a global leader in advanced guidance and autosteering, recently announced the opening of the www.HandsFreeFarm.com online store to bring low-cost, simple-to-use precision agriculture solutions direct to all farmers.To launch the online store, AgJunction introduced RANGER, precision farming made simple with an easy-to-install and use guidance system for under a thousand dollars."The launch of our Hands-Free Farm online store is an exciting milestone for AgJunction as we continue to expand our vision to bring hands-free farming to every farmer," said Dave Vaughn, AgJunction president and chief executive officer. "Critical to our vision is the need to change both the method of getting product to the farmer and the level of complexity in installation and use of precision ag equipment."With the introduction of HandsFreeFarm.com, a new online buying experience has been created to sell direct to all American farmers. Customers will find the easy-to-use products, affordable prices, simple purchasing, and always accessible support that they desire, but have never had, for precision agriculture solutions.Hands-free farming represents the precision guidance, positioning, autosteering and machine control that is the foundation of any precision agriculture solution. Until now, products for hands-free farming have been sold almost universally through dealers who are best suited to support the expensive purchasing decisions, complex installation, and extensive training required for the current offerings in the market. The cost, complexity, and cumbersome purchasing process limits the reach of hands-free farming to only the largest farms despite evidence that every farmer can benefit."We are commited to bringing the benefits of precision ag to all farmers." Vaughn continued, "The HandsFreeFarm.com store is a key step in providing all farmers easy to use, low cost solutions they can easily purchase and install themselves without having to leave the farm."RANGER, an easy to use, complete GPS guidance solution priced at only $995, is the first product in the HandsFreeFarm.com online store. RANGER is ready to use right out of the box, with everything included, installs in minutes and is so simple to use customers can start farming with precision right away.The intuitive, patented steering guide shows visual cues in advance affording farmers the time to focus on farming instead of staring at a map. The system provides the essential accuracy for spraying, spreading, tilling and planting crops like soybeans and supports both straight line and free-form contours useful for terraces and irregular fields. RANGER provides farmers the flexibility to leave the field and return precisely where they left off and gives the option to share GPS location data with implements and yield monitors.Farming is a legacy to be cherished and, hopefully, passed on to the next generation. The www.HandsFreeFarm.com online store has been created to increase access to precision agriculture to ensure that every farmer can prosper through the benefits of hands-free farming.
Reading, Pennsylvania - All communities depend on clean water and that supply of clean water depends on the actions of members in the community and outside of it. The small city of Kutztown lies within the Saucony Creek watershed in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The watershed is mostly agricultural, dotted with small family crop and livestock farms, and the activities on these farms affect water supplies near and far. Saucony Creek itself feeds into Lake Ontelaunee, the water supply for Reading, Pennsylvania. Kutztown gets its water from wells that, because of the soils and geology of the area, are strongly affected by activities on the surrounding landscape.In the early 2000s, the nitrates in Kutztown's water supply were approaching the maximum safe levels for drinking water. The nitrates were related in large part to farms in the area. This situation energized a partnership of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private entities to ensure the safety of the city's water supply, in part by helping local farmers install conservation practices that protect and improve water quality. As part of this effort, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivered additional funding for voluntary conservation assistance through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). NRCS Collaborates with Conservation-Minded FarmersFor years, dairy farmer Daniel Weaver faced challenges that made his life harder and affected water quality in his area. He hauled manure every day because he had nowhere to store it. And, his cows watered and roamed in a branch to Saucony Creek that runs through his property. This reduced the health of the stream and of his herd. That is before he formed a relationship with NRCS staff at his local USDA Service Center.With NRCS's help, Weaver was able to implement conservation practices that improve the operations of his farm in a way that also protects the ground and surface water flowing through his property. First, NRCS helped him develop a nutrient management plan for his property. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding, commonly known as EQIP, enabled him to install a manure storage tank that alleviates the need to haul manure daily. The new storage capacity allows him to control the rate and timing of manure application on his farm, which are key factors in achieving healthy soil and clean water. He also says that it has helped him save on labor and fertilizer."I think it should be mandatory for farmers to have a manure pit," he said.Streambank fencing and an animal crossing were installed to keep cows from contaminating streams and creeks that crossed their pastures and therefore the downstream rivers and lakes. In the five years since installation, vegetation has grown on the stream banks, creating a buffer for the stream and the crossing controls the cows' access, thereby limiting pathogens and nutrients from entering the water.Not too far away, Harlan Burkholder owns and operates a 100-acre row crop and beef cattle farm. He also worked with NRCS and other partners to improve water quality in Saucony Creek. When Burkholder bought his farm in 2005, manure was being stored on the ground near the creek that runs through the property because there was limited space near the barn. He had to spread manure on the fields often to keep it from piling up.Realizing that it's best to spread manure in the growing season and store it in the winter to avoid runoff, he developed a nutrient management plan. After applying for NRCS financial assistance, he worked with NRCS to co-invest in a manure storage structure. Now, Burkholder is able to store manure over the winter so he can spread it at optimal times.He is grateful for NRCS's help. "As a beginner, there's no way I could have spent money on something like this," he said.Burkholder also knows the importance of keeping soil healthy with no-till and cover crops. As a 100-pecent no-till farmer, Burkholder says, "I have no intentions of doing anything else. It's working."It's working so well that he's sharing his knowledge and experiences with other farmers.ResultsTogether, NRCS and its partners have helped more than 20 farmers in the watershed get conservation on the ground. In fact, NRCS has invested more than $2 million in targeted assistance in this area alone."The voluntary efforts of these farmers that protect the water in Saucony Creek also has a positive impact on the groundwater in aquifers beneath it," said Martin Lowenfish, the team lead for NRCS's landscape conservation initiatives. "Kutztown is home to 14,000 residents who rely on drinking water from those aquifers."And, the residents of Kutztown are taking notice. Just two years after the city's water treatment plant was updated with equipment to remove nitrates from the raw water, the plant is running at minimum capacity because the nitrate levels have been reduced by almost half thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers upstream. Now, the treatment plant's water is within legal safe drinking water requirements and treatment costs also have been significantly reduced.This is just one impact among many that show how a little conservation can yield big results for communities downstream.
Annapolis, MD – With the spring planting season drawing near, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched its 2018 "Manure Happens" public education campaign to help citizens understand how and why farmers recycle manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. The 2018 campaign includes information on how farmers using different types of farming practices apply manure to their fields, along with the with the steps they must take to protect water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The ads will run in local newspapers, websites, and social media throughout the month of March."Today's consumers want to know everything about how their food is produced, including the environmental impacts of production practices," said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. "The 'Manure Happens' campaign aims to address any concerns the public may have regarding the use of manure as a fertilizer. In upcoming weeks, you will start see—and smell—farmers spreading manure on their fields when conditions are right for spring planting. Please be considerate, and remember to share the road with our farmers when driving in farm country."Farmers using conventional farming techniques till manure into the soil. This improves nutrient retention and reduces odors for nearby neighbors. Farmers who have switched to no-till farming practices to reduce erosion and re-build their soil's health, grow their crops without disturbing the soil. These farmers apply manure to the surface of the soil and are required to install additional protections like 35-foot buffers to protect local streams from runoff.Maryland's Nutrient Management Regulations prohibit farmers from spreading manure on their fields in winter or when the ground is frozen. March 1 is the first opportunity for farmers to recycle manure generated over the winter as a crop fertilizer. To further protect water resources, Maryland farmers are required to incorporate manure into the soil within 48 hours if they are not using no-till farming practices. The department provides grants to farmers who want to try the latest liquid manure "injection" equipment. Injecting manure into the soil is more expensive than broadcasting manure, but has shown to be compatible with no-till cropping systems. In addition, Maryland's Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations are being phased in over the next several years to help farmers who use manure as a crop fertilizer protect waterways from phosphorus runoff.The public education ads direct visitors to the department's "Manure Happens" website at: mda.maryland.gov/manure. In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure resources, the website offers resources for farmers who currently use commercial fertilizers and are considering making the switch to manure and farmers who sell manure resources as part of their farm's business model. The page provides links to additional resources available for farmers, including grants to transport poultry litter and manure, tax credits, technical guidance and scientific research on the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment. In addition, the website includes links to Maryland's nutrient management regulations and spotlights farmers who use manure as a valuable resource.The department's 2018 educational advertising campaign includes three ads with different themes. The Odoriferous ad focuses on ways farmers work to reduce odors while spreading manure.The Style Squad ad discusses the various ways farmers work to keep manure away from waterways. In addition, the campaign's namesake ad, Manure Happens has been updated with new imagery. 
February 15, 2018, Washington, DC – Legislation strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and United Egg Producers was introduced Feb. 13 to exempt farmers from reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard emissions from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms. Led by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Ranking Member Tom Carper, D-Del., the bipartisan “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act” would fix a problem created last April when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). READ MORE
February 15, 2018, Lansing, MI – Michigan State University Extension and the Michigan Agribusiness Association are hosting a meeting March 1 at Michigan Farm Bureau in Lansing to introduce a manure hauler certification program. Anyone who applies manure is urged to attend. The purposes for the meeting are to present the draft version of the proposed manure hauler certification program, receive comments on the material that has been developed in support of the certification program and increase hauler knowledge of manure application. The goals of the certification program are to: Prevent manure application problems before they occur. Increase nutrient management plan implementation. Demonstrate responsible manure application. Increase the base level of manure management knowledge of all applicators. The certification program consists of three tiers. Individuals who are certified at tier one have a basic knowledge of manure spill response and proper manure application techniques. Individuals achieve this level by passing a test. Once certification has been awarded, individuals will be required to take two hours of training and testing annually to retain tier one certification. Tier two certification is for anyone who supervises manure application. This level focuses on more advanced training and may include topics like odor management, using GPS in manure application, ethics and regulations. Maintaining tier two certification requires participating in a minimum of four modules over two years and showing proficiency through testing. Tier three is achieved by developing and implementing an environmental management system (EMS) plan. An EMS plan is designed to improve the day-to-day management of farm and for-hire applicator business practices with an emphasis on environmental stewardship. One of the benefits of a certification program includes a reduction in pollution insurance premiums. Since 2003, the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin (PNAAW) has partnered with the insurance industry to provide discounts for manure applicators that participate in their voluntary certification program. Due to court decisions in 2015 that decreed bacteria was a pollutant, PNAAW spent a year revamping the insurance portion of their certification program. PNAAW initially looked at a group policy, but then opted to go with individual policies in grouped pools based on the program. The new program has a strengthened auditing component by the insurance industry and provides full environmental coverage for $10 million aggregate. The new discounts average 38 percent on all insurance, except workman’s comp, for for-hire applicators. In its first year, the new program saved applicators more than $300,000. Dave Anderson with Vincent Urban Walker and Associates (Green Bay, WI) was a primary architect in designing the revamped insurance component of the certification program. He will provide more details on the insurance premium reductions offered to certified manure haulers and the third party verification process conducted by the insurance industry during the meeting. While the morning will be spent learning about the manure hauler certification program, the afternoon will be spent learning about the impact of the Lake Erie watershed on Michigan agriculture, getting a regulatory update from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and learning about manure handling and storage safety. There is no registration fee to attend the winter manure hauler meeting due to the generous financial support from Bazooka Farmstar and Bambauer Equipment. However, registration is required to ensure an accurate handout and lunch count. To register and get more details on the meeting, go to https://tinyurl.com/ManureHaulMtg. The registration deadline is February 26. If you have questions about the program, contact Charles Gould at 616-994-4547 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
January 17, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Iowa lawmakers should halt construction on animal confinements until Iowa's water quality is significantly improved, a coalition of about two dozen state, local and national groups said Tuesday. The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture asked lawmakers to support 15 bills tightening oversight of confinements introduced by Sen. David Johnson, an independent from Ocheyeden. READ MORE
December 14, 2017, Winnipeg, Man – Effective March 2018, the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) will disband and its activities will be rolled into a more broadly mandated provincial research organization created under the new federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership. John Carney, executive director of the MLMMI, said work over the past almost 20 years has included odor mitigation, odor measurement and quantification, nutrient management including manure separation and manure nutrients in crops, the feasibility of a manure pipeline to transport manure, pathogens in manure and barn worker health and safety. “Certainly, there's been quite a bit of work done in odor management,” he said. “We have a model that is very helpful for predicting odor plumes and there's actually some refinements going on with that as we speak.” “We fully investigated five different technologies for manure separation as part of redistributing nutrients from areas that don't have enough spreadable acres.We looked at alternatives and costs of manure transportation.” “I think it's important to note too that we don't just consider our success when we find something that works,” Carney added. “When we find that it's not the answer, I think that's just as valuable as when you find something that is what you hoped it would be.” “Our research has the capabilities of saving a lot of producers the time, money and frustration of implementing technologies or strategies that it turns out don't work in Manitoba conditions.” According to Carney, under the new program, this research will be broadened to cover all forms agriculture. He said there continues to be opportunities for Manitoba to produce more livestock so manure research will continue to be an important focus.
Recent heavy rains in southern Minnesota finds some livestock producers scrambling to stem overflow from livestock manure storage basins. Pollution problems include overflowing manure and wastewater storage structures and releases from underground and above-ground storage tanks as well as open feedlots located in floodplains or in sensitive areas where runoff can enter surface waters.Farmers must call the Minnesota Duty Officer immediately at (800) 422-0798 (calls answered 24/7) if their manure-storage facilities overflow, if manure enters surface waters or if their manure-storage structure is inundated by floodwaters. If their manure-storage facilities are in danger of overflowing, farmers can contact the MPCA at (800) 657-3864 or (651) 296-6300 (during regular business hours) and ask for a feedlot staff person. Farmers in feedlot delegated counties also may contact county feedlot staff.To reduce the likelihood of an overflow, feedlot operators are encouraged to divert water from manure-storage facilities if possible. Manure stockpiles located in areas that could flood should be removed immediately.While we can't control weather, planning ahead helps to better deal with the impact of bad weather on manure management and land application. A little more investment in storage, conservation practices, and planning can be a very cost-effective form of insurance. It also reduces the risk of economic loss of nutrients from surface-applied manure without incorporation. Farmers with open feedlots should scrape-and-haul weekly if possible.For more information about flooding and the environmental problems it can create, visit the minimizing flood risk page on the MPCA website. Factsheet: Managing manure storage and land application during adverse weather conditions.
Hancock County, Ohio - State grant money will be used to showcase a new way for local farmers to fertilize their fields.This time of year, when cornstalks are becoming fully emerged, farmers will usually fertilize their crops with nitrogen rich fertilizer.But a new system is being demonstrated for local farmers through the Ohio State University Extension office. Manure from the farms swine barn is pumped across the field and a special arm tool on a tractor incorporates the manure directly into the soil. | READ MORE
Puck Custom Enterprises recently upgraded its trademark LightSpeed software to the improved "LightSpeed Pro." This new version brings customers remote pump control with a higher level of efficiency and ease of use.This software program was developed by PCE to enable automated pump control, whether for manure application or other fluid delivery uses. While it is an optional program for PCE customers, it syncs with the LightSpeed IQ technology that comes standard on all Puck Custom Enterprises pumps. LightSpeed IQ is the only program on the market that offers in-depth pump diagnostics and insight, and when paired with LightSpeed Pro, gives users remote monitoring and control of their pumps in almost real time.The LightSpeed technology can be operated on any tablet, phone or laptop in the cab of the applicator tractor without the need for any other hardware. It can also be outfitted and adapted to any third-party pump by PCE's service crew, giving all applicators the opportunity to adopt the high-tech system.LightSpeed Pro is the newest iteration of PCE's automated pump control software, which first launched in 2007. More than a decade later, LightSpeed Pro includes a redesign geared toward ease of use and navigation, streamlined pump control and more in-depth diagnostics, in addition to full site-mapping capabilities. This feature is particularly useful for custom applicators and row crop farmers, who are now able to set up job sites, map the location of pumps and hoses, and lay out fields within LightSpeed Pro.PCE designed and built the LightSpeed Pro and LightSpeed IQ software entirely in-house, which gives them the ability to react quickly to changes in the market and customers' needs. Compatible with nearly any connected device, it has a half-second update rate that results in near real-time visualization and pump control. Unlike many competitors' technology, LightSpeed also offers detailed diagnostics, helping applicators to find and address pump problems as they arise.According to Matt Lindemann, PCE's technology specialist, the company's 11 years of experience with pump control software has allowed them to hone LightSpeed Pro into an invaluable tool for applicators — with a 99 percent uptime guarantee."This is a great service for our customers, and helps them increase their efficiency and effectiveness in the field," said Lindemann. "We're proud to offer this technology, built by an experienced team with firsthand pumping expertise."LightSpeed Pro is developed and overseen by a PCE team with over 75 years of involvement in the industry, and even used by Puck Custom Enterprise employees on the application side of the business. As the LightSpeed Pro software becomes more robust and wide-ranging, PCE looks to continue innovating and updating its technology to meet its customers' needs and improve their efficiency on the job.
Hauling manure on Alberta roads requires operators to pay close attention to highway safety, road infrastructure and the environment. This factsheet discusses manure application equipment and road use requirements. Its purpose is to help farmers and custom manure applicators understand the impacts manure hauling equipment has on roads and bridges and the legal requirements for road access as well as providing tips and suggestions on how to minimize wear and tear on the infrastructure. | CLICK HERE
Manure irrigation is the practice of applying livestock manure to fields using irrigation equipment.In response to concerns about this practice, University of Wisconsin Extension convened a workgroup to examine the issues.The workgroup, composed of scientists, public health specialists, state agency experts, farmers, conservationists and others, spent over two years gathering and reviewing scientific information on the practice and developing their report, which includes findings, responses and recommendations. The workgroup assessed concerns associated with manure irrigation, including droplet drift, odor, water quality, air quality and airborne pathogens. They also explored potential benefits related to the timing of manure applications, road safety and reduced road damage, and other farm management and economic benefits. Join the webinar on June 15 at 2:30 to learn more about their results and implications.For more information, CLICK HERE. 
When it comes to manure, technology holds promise for the dairy industry."The goal is to improve the sustainability of how we apply and how we use manure on crops and find more value in the manure," Dr. Dana Kirk, biosystems and agricultural engineer with Michigan State University's Anaerobic Digestion Research & Education Center, said during a presentation on manure treatment technology options presented by DAIReXNET.The question is whether a dairy wants to treat its manure and, if so, what technology will work best for it. That depends on the characteristics of the manure produced, including its moisture, nutrient content and contamination, Kirk said, as well as how the farm beds and handles its manure collection and conveyance. | READ MORE
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has teamed up with the National Weather Service to design a tool that helps farmers and commercial applicators determine the best time to apply manure.The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool uses past and predicted National Weather Service weather data like precipitation, temperature, and snow melt. It predicts the likelihood that applied manure will run off fields in daily, next day, and 72-hour increments.Farmers and commercial applicators use an interactive map to locate their field and find the forecasted risk.Users can also sign up for email or text messages for their county that alert them to a severe runoff risk for that day."By providing this information, we hope to give our farmers and commercial manure applicators the tools they need to make well-informed decisions," said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. "By being able to better predict times of high runoff risk, we can decrease the potential loss of manure to our waterways and increase farm productivity by saving nutrients on the land. It is a win-win situation based on an easy-to-use tool."When someone goes to the interactive map, the runoff risk is displayed in one of four categories: no runoff expected, low, moderate, and severe. When the risk is moderate or severe, it is recommended that the applicator evaluate the situation to determine if there are other locations or later dates when the manure application could take place.The forecasting tool can also be used by others looking for climate information including two-inch soil depth temperatures which are useful at planting time, and six-inch soil depth temperatures which are helpful when determining fall fertilizer application in appropriate areas.The Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is part of a larger federal project. The National Weather Service has provided data and guidance to states to create similar tools in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. State funding for the project was provided by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.
When spring arrives, both large and small livestock owners with pen-pack manure are looking to apply the manure as soon as field conditions allow. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.Pen-pack manure contains the macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash along with a host of micronutrients. The nutrient content can vary depending on species, feed products fed, and the amounts of straw or sawdust used for bedding. The farm's manure handling and storage practices also impact the nutrient content of manure. Manure stored under roof will usually maintain a higher nutrient value than manure exposed to rainfall. | READ MORE
There is a great misconception within the global marketplace about the durability, service life cost and capacity capability of bolted steel tanks when compared to both sectional and pre-cast concrete tanks for applications within the water, wastewater, and anaerobic digestion market sectors.When correctly specified and produced, concrete can be an excellent construction material providing long service in many conditions, however, the quality and durability of a concrete tank is dependent on many factors that are often difficult to control.Consider the following:Pre-stressed concrete tanks: Bioenergy plants provide a severe environment for concrete. As these tanks enter the first, second and third decade of service, the effects of years of unprotected exposure are apparent with cracks, spalls, and leaks. The introduction of reinforcing steel created a problem affecting the durability of concrete. As rebar corrodes, concrete cracks and spalls reducing structural integrity AND allowing elements to enter into the concrete increasing the deterioration. Additionally, rust forming on rebar increases the volume (result = expansion) of the steel creating large tensile forces. Concrete cannot withstand tensile stress and it cracks to relieve the pressures. For more, CLICK HERE
Marshfield, WI - At the Healthy Soil, Healthy Water Conference, held in late-March, Doug Szemborski with Bazooka Farmstar said manure injection could be the best way to use the manure on the farm in a way that makes the neighbors happy while allowing farmers to get the most nutrient value from it.Farmers who are able to properly use the manure produced on their farms save money in fertilizer costs. Szemborski said injecting the manure into soil allows for reduced runoff and loss of nutrients, while also reducing odor from the manure due to the ammonia that causes the smell being locked into the soil during injection. | READ MORE
There has been some success with using biocovers to reduce the odors and environment-damaging gas emissions from liquid manure lagoons – and a promising new cover material that has the potential to do even more is biochar.
Healthy soils have a unique infrastructure of pores that vary in size and support the movement of air, water, earthworms and other soil micro-organisms and plant roots. Healthy soils that allow maximum water infiltration will help maximize the soil's water-holding capacity and will minimize water runoff that leads to soil erosion. The greater the number of small pores, the more consolidated the soil is and the less capacity the soil has for water infiltration.What is compaction? Compaction is a change in soil structure, including an increase in soil density. In compacted soils, the soil aggregates are pushed more tightly together which reduces the size and stability of the soil aggregates, the size of the pores and disrupts the continuity of those pores.According to research from the University of Minnesota, the change in soil structure is complex. There is not a simple relationship between increased soil density and decreased crop yield. The changes in soil structure affect the movement of water, air, roots, and soil organisms through the soil, so the effect on yield depends on the weather, the amount and depth of compaction, and the crop type.What causes compaction? Wheel traffic is the main cause of compaction on most farms. The amount of compaction depends on the size and weight of the equipment, the moisture level of the soil, and the type of soil (soils high in clay or low in organic matter compact more readily). Table 1, with information adapted from Dr. S Shearer – University of Ohio, shows the potential economic impact of compaction from wheel traffic on normal and wet soils. It also considers the impact of wider spread pattern for manure application equipment on reducing wheel traffic-induced compaction.Table 1: Yield Impact from Wheel Track Compaction on Normal and Wet Soils with Common Field Equipment and Varying Spread Widths of Manure Application EquipmentIf the data collected by Dr. Scott Shearer of Ohio State University is extrapolated to calculate the cost of compaction on crop yield per acre, it would demonstrate a 6 bu/acre yield difference from wheel traffic in soils with normal moisture and a 27 bu/acre yield difference from wheel traffic in wet soils. At $4.50 /bu corn this would cost close to $ 50/acre with narrow width spread pattern manure application equipment. Wider spread pattern results in less wheel tracks and in less crop yield loss.Many producers do not consider wheat to be an economical crop in the rotation. If the economics of crop production were not just based on the highest yield, but on the economics (including long term soil health) across the whole rotation, it would escalate the value of wheat in the rotation. Beyond the advantages of increased yields for subsequent corn and soybean crops, documented by Dr. B. Deen at the University of Guelph, there are additional economic considerations. The opportunity of manure application after July wheat harvest, into conditions with the lowest risk for compaction, and with the opportunity to add cover crops to alleviate consolidated soil and build aggregate stability give additional diversity and soil health advantages. Additionally, the opportunity to spread workload and equipment costs over the entire growing season (compared to a few weeks in spring and fall) provides additional advantages.With larger fields and bigger field equipment, compaction issues will not disappear. Is it time to reconsider the options for reducing compaction on your farm?References: Soil Compaction; Causes, Effects and Control https://www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/soils/tillage/soil-compaction/

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