Exploring different composting options

Exploring different composting options

A compost demonstration project and a public education and training facility for farmers.

Biochar shows benefits as manure lagoon cover

Biochar shows benefits as manure lagoon cover

Biochar is plant matter that has been heated to high temperatures resulting in a black, carbon-rich material similar to charcoal.

Creating compost with lots of bull

Creating compost with lots of bull

Innovation and dedication pay off at thriving Ohio cattle manure compost business

Giving nature a hand conserving the land

Giving nature a hand conserving the land

Retired educator partners with Texas ranchers to convert feedlot manure to compost

Ranging further afield with fracs

Ranging further afield with fracs

Custom manure applicators often describe their work in colorful ways

September 18, 2017, Salisbury, MD – Maryland's environmental agency is considering allowing construction to move forward on what would be the largest chicken farm in Wicomico County's history. The Maryland Department of the Environment on Aug. 4 gave preliminary approval for the project to move forward. At a recent MDE hearing in Salisbury, several neighbors and environmental advocates called on regulators to reconsider their decision before it becomes final. READ MORE
September 13, 2017, Alpine Township, MI – A 56-year-old man lost his arm recently in a farming accident. According to Kent County police, he was working near the PTO shaft of a manure spreader when his clothes became entangled and his arm was wrapped up in the shaft. READ MORE
September 12, 2017, Lancaster, PA – At the third Waste to Worth conference in mid-April in Raleigh, NC, one of the topics covered was evaluating agricultural best management practices in the Chesapeake Bay program. A major objective is to bring science-based facts to support the use of practices that will improve the watershed and be reflected in the bay model. READ MORE
September 11, 2017, Lynden, WA – Washington State’s watersheds scored a win in late August as agricultural waste company, Regenis, installed the first phosphorous recovery system west of the Cascades at Edaleen Dairy in Lynden, WA. The fine solids separation system – called a Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) unit – removes solids in manure wastewater through a system that injects the tank with air bubbles and organic polymer, causing the solids to float to the surface where they can be skimmed off, dewatered, and stored. Meanwhile, the remaining wastewater can more efficiently be applied to crops, allowing dairies to better manage their nutrient levels as they irrigate their fields. With the DAF, a dairy can remove 80 to 90 percent of the phosphorous and 30 percent of the nitrogen in the wastewater, according to Dr. Craig Frear, Regenis’ director of research. “That translates into a host of economic and environmental benefits,” he said. “After the solids are dewatered, you have natural fertilizer containing two of the most important nutrients for healthy crops along with several micronutrients. Not only is this organic fertilizer less expensive for dairies to transport to their fields, thereby saving fuel, but it also saves them the costs of importing new sources of chemical based phosphorous fertilizers which are unsustainable. These solids can also create a new revenue stream for dairies by selling them to neighboring farms, which creates an exponential benefit for the local environment.” “We invested in the DAF because the future of the dairy industry is evolving, and the needle is moving towards nutrient management systems as a key element in creating a closed loop, sustainable farm where nothing goes to waste, and we steward the land with utmost care so it can feed future generations,” said Mitch Moorlag with Edaleen Dairy. “In the long run, this helps make dairies like ours more competitive, which is a win for consumers who want to support local agricultural producers and the jobs they create in smaller communities.” The DAF unit was funded in part by a matching grant from Washington state’s Clean Energy Fund in 2016 as part of an emphasis on creating a more vibrant clean energy economy and a healthy environment throughout the state. It’s the second fine solids phosphorous separating system in Washington state (both installed by Regenis) and is one of only a handful in North America. “Investments from our Clean Energy Fund are accelerating the pace of innovation and opening new markets for carbon reduction technologies in Washington’s rural agricultural communities,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “It’s exciting to see Regenis and Edaleen Dairy in Whatcom County lead the way in helping the dairy industry address waste management challenges by turning captured nutrients into value-added fertilizer products.” Regenis has now installed four nutrient recovery systems on dairy farms, including the two phosphorous systems and two others designed to strip nitrogen in the form of ammonia from animal wastewater.
September 7, 2017, Kingsley, IA – After a recent report of a manure spill from a sow facility in Plymouth County, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources found manure had reached a small creek about four miles northwest of Kingsley. The spill, which occurred over the weekend, came from a sow facility. It’s unknown how much manure spilled. The unnamed stream has low flows, is very small and there were no fish in it. Iowa DNR staff found low dissolved oxygen levels in the stream, but no evidence that the manure had reached Johns Creek about one mile downstream. Most of the manure was captured by a berm near the facility. Any manure from the tributary will be pumped up and land applied. Iowa DNR will continue to monitor the cleanup progress and consider appropriate enforcement action.
September 7, 2017, Idaho Falls, ID – The Idaho National Laboratory has released multiple new open-source software projects, including a program aimed at helping with manure management decisions. The Decision-support for Digester-Algae IntegRation for Improved Environmental and Economic Sustainability (DAIRIEES) was developed in collaboration with the University of Idaho and Boise State University. It is a novel treatment system to mitigate many current environmental concerns of manure management and create value-added product from manure, including bioplastics, electricity, fertilizer and animal bedding. DAIRIEES allows users to enter characteristics about a dairy farm’s manure, manure management plan and regional market. Based on these inputs, the options are analyzed in detail using data from laboratory research to determine the most efficient use of this material. You can read more about it at dairiees.inl.gov. All of the programs are freely available to the public and open to collaboration directly with researchers and engineers outside of the laboratory. It’s hoped that by fostering widespread distribution of the software, it will accelerate the adoption of these technologies within industry and fuel innovation in other research organizations that may build on them. All of INL’s open-source software may be acquired at no cost at github.com/idaholab, including the following recent additions to INL’s open-source software portfolio.
September 5, 2017, Watkinsville, GA – Melony Wilson-Cowart, animal waste specialist with the University of Georgia, sent out an alert Sept 5 warning Georgia CAFO operators about the possible impacts from Hurricane Irma. “As you are well aware, hurricanes can produce a lot of rain over a short period of time so now is the time to check your lagoon levels,” she said. “If you expect you are near the path of this hurricane, lower your lagoons to the stop pumping levels, which can be found in your nutrient management plan. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Just always remember safety comes first so be careful out there.” She also forwarded an alert from the University of Georgia’s agriculture climatologist, Pam Knox, who has been watching the progress of Hurricane Irma. “If you are in south Georgia, you could see impacts from the storm as early as Saturday [Sept 9], although most likely you will not see much until Sunday [Sept 10] morning,” Knox said. “The major impacts from the storm in Georgia are likely to be strong winds, locally heavy rains and potential storm surge and high waves if you are along the coast. Some tornadoes are also possible. Because the storm is so powerful, the strong winds and rain could spread out a long way from the center of the storm, so do not let down your guard if the center does not come close to you.” “With wet soils and trees that have been stressed from droughts in previous years, I expect a lot of trees to fall, cutting electrical power to many locations if the storm does not weaken as it moves up from Florida.” “Since power may be out, it would be wise to make sure you have gas and cash for several days just as a precaution,” Knox stated. “Because Irma is moving along at a pretty good clip, we do not expect to see the amount of rain that Texas received from Harvey, but local areas could see some fresh-water flooding. Because of that, agricultural producers may wish to move machinery and livestock to higher terrain.” Knox will be posting updates on her blog [http://blog.extension.uga.edu/climate] as well as on Facebook at SEAgClimate and on Twitter at @SE_AgClimate through the week.
September 5, 2017, Arlington, WI — Who knew there was so much to learn about animal droppings?Amanda Kasparek works with farmers, as an agronomist for the Clark County Land Conservation office.But the North American Manure Expo, held at the University of Wisconsin's Arlington Agricultural Research Station, offered Kasparek new insights, and not just about the different types of machinery on the market for spreading organic fertilizer on crop fields."I thought all manure was manure. I thought they were all the same," she said, as she traveled, by tractor-drawn bleacher wagon, to the various field demonstrations on Wednesday afternoon.But not all droppings are created equal. Some is heavier; some is lighter. Some has more solid pieces; some is more easily liquefied for application. And some animals produce more effective fertilizer than others.Paul Neeb, who came to the expo from near Kitchener, Ont., said his experience on his farm — he raises beef cattle and laying hens — has shown him that poultry manure makes, by far, the most effective fertilizer."A chicken," he said, "processes its food more efficiently than other animals."An estimated 700 to 800 people came to the two-day event, which includes tours, classes, demonstrations and a trade show. Most of the license plates on vehicles in the parking area were from Midwest states such as Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Illinois.Whether you're talking dairy cattle droppings, pig poop or gifts from the feathered colons of chickens or turkeys, it is anything but a "waste product."Mark Berning, territory representative for the Ohio-based Cadman company, stood in the midst of a 62-foot, 25-hose continuous manure spreader under a sign that said "It's Time to Rethink Manure Application." He said the value of manure as fertilizer, which has been known as long as humans have cultivated crops, is even greater now, as the costs for producing and hauling chemical fertilizers have skyrocketed. READ MORE
August 30, 2017, Ohio - When hay is harvested nutrients are removed from the field. A ton of alfalfa removes approximately 13 pounds of phosphorus (as P2O5) and 50 pounds of potash (as K2O). According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Ohio harvested 2.6 tons per acre of alfalfa in 2016.Many hay fields are not pure alfalfa. The acidic soils of the southern and eastern parts of the state make it difficult to maintain an alfalfa or clover stand so a mixed stand of grass and alfalfa/clover is common. Stands in older fields are often just mostly grass. A grass hay crop will remove just as many nutrients per ton as an alfalfa crop. The big difference is that the annual yields from grass hay fields are usually about 1.3 tons per acre lower than alfalfa fields.Livestock manure can be used as a fertilizer source to replace nutrients removed through hay harvest. Pen pack beef manure will contain approximately 7.9 pounds of nitrogen (mostly in the organic form), 4.4 pounds of phosphorus (P2O5) and 6.6 pounds of potash (K20) per ton according to OSU Extension bulletin 604. Note that these are older book values and your actual farm manure nutrient levels can vary depending upon the animal's ration, the amount and type of bedding material used and how manure is stored and handled. The recommendation is to sample and test manure at least on a yearly basis. This will provide a more reliable indication of the actual nutrient content of the manure on your farm. For more information about how and when to sample manure, Penn State Extension has a good publication available on-line at http://extension.psu.edu/plants/nutrient-management/educational/manure-storage-and-handling/manure-sampling-for-nutrient-management-planning.Let's assume a livestock producer wants to use pen pack beef manure to replenish the nutrients in a hay field where he harvested three tons per acre of hay. Since alfalfa and grass hay both remove similar amounts of nutrients per ton, we can assume the three tons of hay removed per acre contained 39 pounds of P2O5 and 150 pounds of K2O. If pen pack beef manure was used to replenish these nutrients, 8.8 tons per acre would be sufficient to replace the phosphorus. However, a rate of 22.7 tons per acre would be needed to replace the potash. The 22.7 ton per acre manure application rate would result in almost 100 pounds of P2O5 being applied per acre, far more than was removed in the three tons of hay.A farmer would need to be cautious about using this practice repeatedly and growing the soil phosphorus level. It takes about 20 pounds of phosphorus applied to a field to raise the soil test level one pound per acre or two parts per million. So if the soil test level is low, the additional phosphorus from the manure would not raise the soil phosphorus level much in a single year.The key to using livestock manure to replace the nutrients removed through hay harvest is to get even distribution of the manure across the entire field. Having mowed hay fields as a teenager, where bedded pack manure was applied, I would strongly urge an even distribution pattern across the field. Avoid large clumps that will plug the mower or interfere with regrowth.If you are unsure how many tons per acre your solid manure spreader applies there is a simple way to make a determination. Make a heavy plastic piece that is 56 inches by 56 inches. Fasten it to the ground with weights on the corners and apply manure across the plastic. Fold up the plastic and weigh the manure captured. Many people use a bathroom scales for this. One pound of manure captured on the plastic is equivalent to one ton of manure applied per acre. Thus, if you captured 10 pounds of manure the application rate was 10 tons per acre.It is common for county extension offices to have farmers ask; "Can manure be applied between cuttings"? The answer is "yes". Farmers commonly use liquid swine and liquid dairy manure between cuttings to replace soil nutrients and "boost" regrowth of the forage crop in northwest Ohio. There is the potential to damage the crowns of the forage plants but most farmers seem to like the results of the manure application. Solid manure could also be applied between cuttings instead of waiting until fall to apply the manure. The manure application should take place as some as the hay is baled.Liquid beef manure is also being used to replace nutrients in hay fields. Liquid beef manure we have sampled has contained 40 pounds nitrogen (about half in the organic form and half in the ammonium form), 35 pounds of phosphorus (P2O5) and 30 pounds of potash (K20) per 1000 gallons of product. Applied with a drag hose, this can be an excellent fertilizer for a forage.A final cautionary note regarding manure application to forage fields: If manure is coming from a herd with animals infected by Johne's disease, that disease can be transmitted by manure to healthy cattle. According to a publication from the US Dairy Forage Research Center at Madison Wisconsin and authored by Michael Russelle and Bill Jokela, the Johne's bacterium can survive on hay. Therefore, those authors' recommendation is that in herds with Johne's, manure should not be applied as a topdressing on fields that will be harvested as dry hay.
August 30, 2017, Waunakee, WI - After four years of experimenting with composting on his dairy farm near Waunakee, Jeff Endres believes "there's a lot of upside to composting that we don't know about yet."He told a large tour of attendees from the North American Manure Expo in nearby Arlington that the fertilizer value and bedding potential of compost are already apparent on his family's Endres Berryridge Farm, operated with brothers Randy and Steve, but he is still learning about the energizing effect compost has on the soil.One hint of that aspect of compost use is that his alfalfa acres that have been fertilized with compost for two years have out-yielded all other alfalfa fields. "It's enough to notice," he said. "That told me this isn't hurting me. There's something to it."He also noted that one problem they had before utilizing compost in their system is that steep alfalfa fields could not be fertilized with liquid manure and as such started to decline in fertility. Once they had the environmentally friendly, stable compost, they could feed those fields with it. They also found that applying compost to a growing crop didn't harm the plants."There are not a lot of barriers to composting," he said. "No farmer is going to go into it as crazy as we did, but I got sick of digging holes in the ground to store manure. For us, this was a way to utilize the nutrients we already have in our farm system."I don't think farmers should ever have to give nutrients away," he said.Two busloads of visitors from Manure Expo joined another busload of guests from the Madison Clean Lakes Alliance to visit the Endres farm on Aug. 22 and they asked some pointed questions of the compost experimenter.He told them that he could probably build and use a liquid manure system more cheaply than operating his compost system. Just over a year ago the Endres family incorporated a large compost barn into a new set of buildings where they raise their dairy herd replacements.Two identically sized barns (65 by 220 feet) house the farm's heifer calves from four months to 13 months of age. Both barns feature tunnel ventilation and additional cooling fans which aid fly control; the air moving at 5 miles per hour keeps flies away. "The compost process, with the heat that is generated, is also very friendly to fly control," he adds. READ MORE
August 28, 2017, Iowa - The risks of hydrogen sulfide in swine operations have been known for years, but beef operators also need to be aware of the dangers this gas can pose.Increasing this awareness led Dan Andersen, assistant professor and ag engineering specialist with Iowa State University Extension, to create a series of four publications that provide information and resources to help farmers stay safe when working with manure. "One breath of hydrogen sulfide at 500 parts per million is enough to render someone unconscious almost immediately," warns Andersen. "When you are working with a manure pit, and once you realize the gas is a problem, it's usually too late. Hydrogen sulfide gas smells at 1 to 2 parts per million, but levels above that amount knocks out your ability to smell, so our natural detection system goes away."Pit gas monitors recommendedInformation about the importance of monitoring for hydrogen sulfide and the types of monitors available for purchase is available in publication AE 3603, Hydrogen Sulfide Safety — Monitoring.Monitors are available from ISU Extension, which has several models for farmers to test. READ MORE
The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) Animal Waste Technology Fund provides grants to companies demonstrating new technologies on farms and providing alternative strategies for managing animal manure.These technologies can cover a range of innovations – generate energy from animal manure, reduce on-farm waste streams, and repurpose manure by creating marketable fertilizer and other value added products such as compost.In October, MDA awarded Veteran Compost of Harford County, Maryland, and O2Compost of Washington State a grant for $350,300 to develop a compost demonstration project plus a public education and training facility in Anne Arundel County for livestock farmers.The project will demonstrate aerated static pile (ASP) composting technology systems at three levels: small scale (one to four horses or livestock equivalents); medium scale: (five to 20); and large scale: (20 to 40).All three compost systems will be solar powered to demonstrate off-grid sustainability. The medium and large systems will include storage tanks to retain roof water for use in the composting process.The project will also include formal classes and hands-on workshops, public tours for students in kindergarten through college, and alliances with government agencies and non-profit environmental organizations. In addition, a compost cooperative website will be developed to bring together producers and end users of the finished compost products.The compost systems that are displayed will be ones that have been in use since 2001. Peter Moon, owner of O2Compost, says he started out in the composting industry in 1989, designing and permitting large-scale municipal green waste systems. Then, in the mid-1990s, he started applying some of the industrial ideas to compost dairy and chicken manure. After seeing a chicken farm that was composting mortalities that looked tidy but suffered from terrible odor issues, he decided that an aerated bin system was what was needed. It took him a few months to figure out the answer and was convinced that it would work.“I ended up building a prototype in my back yard because I had to prove to myself that it would work, and it worked way better than I had hoped,” he says.Today, O2Compost offers what they call Compost Operator Training Programs. They include four basic components – the design of the system, the aeration equipment package, a detailed training manual written in layman’s terms, and unlimited technical support – for a fixed fee.“It’s this system and three stages of bins that will be on display,” he says. “Although I don’t know of any other company that is offering anything like it, I want to make clear I didn’t invent the concept of aerated composting. Aerated static pile (ASP) composting was first developed in the mid-1970s in Beltsville, Maryland. I just reconfigured it into an aerated bin system.”When the MDA put out the RFP in 2016, Peter immediately thought of his client and good friend, Justen Garrity, owner of Veteran Company based out of Aberdeen, Maryland. The two had known and worked with each other since 2010 when Justen took Peter’s training program. Veteran Compost has a 30-acre farm in Aberdeen and is dedicated to employing veterans and their family members and turning food scraps into high-quality compost. The crown jewel of Veteran Compost is its vermicomposting operation –it’s one of the only commercial worm composting operations in Maryland.Peter approached Justen and suggested that, since the company was located in Maryland, why didn’t they set up a demonstration site with bins and a larger open aerated static pile system and use it to instruct farmers in Maryland and neighboring states. They could come to them, participate in a half-day workshop and then come out to the site and see it, sense it, understand it and learn.Justen could immediately see the value in this partnership, and so did MDA. In 2016, O2Compost and Veteran Compost received the grant.The project would already be operational today, except for one snag. Justen and Peter had challenges finding a good site, because people in the area have been reluctant to have a composting site near them because of potential odor issues. This is despite the fact that Justen’s composting facility in Aberdeen has received zero odor complaints from neighbors in the six years that it’s been operating.“Justen has also had to go through a process with Anne Arundel County to allow for composting on agricultural zone property,” says Peter.It has taken a long time and numerous public hearings, but recently the county commissioners voted unanimously to allow this activity on agricultural zoned land.Ironically, these systems will demonstrate why compost doesn’t have to generate offensive odors for several reasons: the ASP compost piles are not turned; airflow is induced into the piles resulting in aerobic conditions throughout the pile; and a biofilter cover is used for in-situ treatment of off-gases. “It has been my experience that most people think that compost piles need to be turned to get oxygen into it,” says Peter. “What they don’t understand is that when a biologically active pile is turned, the oxygen that is introduced into the compost is then consumed by the microorganisms and depleted within 30 to 45 minutes.”With regard to composting at the training facility, Peter and Justen will induce airflow using a high pressure, high volume electric blower and push air into the pile to replenish the oxygen and displace CO2, heat and water out of the pile.In short, ASP composting results in aerobic composting versus turned windrow composting, which results in anaerobic composting.Drainage isn’t a factor for the smaller systems because the bins are covered with roof structures. However, for municipal scale compost facilities managing storm water, it is always an important consideration.“For the larger systems, municipal-type scale, yes, typically we’ll construct a pond of some kind to handle any surface water run-off.”The liquid collected is then re-introduce back into the compost pile as process water, or in some cases directed to a sanitary sewer for processing at the local wastewater treatment plant. “Our goal with composting is to get the pile temperature throughout the pile to exceed 55oC (equivalent to 131oF) for a minimum of three days. Meeting these time-temperature conditions effectively destroys pathogens, parasites and weed seeds in the finished compost,” says Peter.The objective is to produce a high quality compost product that is safe to use on pastures or in vegetable and landscape gardens.Moisture is always an important factor when composting, and will be one of the things farmers will learn more about at the site.   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.manuremanager.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleriada190adfcb “Our goal is to have the moisture content somewhere between 60 and 65 percent, going into the pile,” says Peter. “At that moisture content, it will feel quite wet and you can squeeze a handful and get a drop or two to come out. At this moisture content, it won’t drain free-water that could impact surface and ground water resources.”Peter says with dairy and pig manure, even if it’s run through a separator and the fibrous material is stacked, the base can get saturated because the water just continues to drain out. It can fill the pipes under the stack with water. To avoid this, some type of dry “bulking” material can be added. Peter often encourages dairies to look to horse stables in their area or even equine events.“Horse farms always have that same problem, but it tends to be very carbon rich and very dry, which is exactly what you want to marry-up with wet substrates.”Flexibility is built into the system.“For example, companies may accumulate their food waste in batches and then mix it up to compost out. Or you can build a pile over a 30-day period as you would on a horse farm,” says Peter. “The idea with the MDA grant is to teach people what is possible, and that there is a method that’s simple and effective and an excellent investment on their farm with an ROI of two to five years.”There is also flexibility in the use of pipes. With small, aerated bin systems, the air is delivered by an air-floor and there are no pipes to work around.For larger systems, aeration pipes can be laid directly on the ground with the pile constructed directly on top. Some farms sacrifice the pipe when they bring in their frontend loaders. Others choose a thick-walled HDPE pipe.“That pipe can literally be pulled out from underneath the pile and reused.”One of the key features of the system is low maintenance. Once the compost pile has been built, it’s pretty much hands off. The blower and timer to do all of the work.“You monitor the composting process, but you don’t need the big windrow turner and someone out there driving it,” says Peter. “You’re not paying for fuel, maintenance or repairs and you are able to greatly reduce air emissions. ASP Composting requires about 25 percent of the space when compared to turned windrow composting, and it can be operated at less than 50 percent of the cost.”Both Peter and Justen feel that once the training facility is in operation, which looks to be late summer of 2017, farmers will be excited to discover that aerated static pile composting yields too many benefits to ignore. It speeds up the process, reduces odors and basically eliminates neighbor issues. It also destroys parasites, pathogens and weed seeds in the mix, has a small footprint, reduces the cost of operation, can handle any organic waste material and is simple to operate. “The question I get a lot is, ‘If this is all so easy and it’s everything you say it is, why isn’t everybody already doing it?’” asks Peter. “For some reason everybody is just locked onto the idea you need to turn the pile, but you don’t. We have over 1,200 systems in operation in 21 countries. It is a simple technology that is easy to learn – and it works.”
September 18, 2017, Des Moines, IA – Iowa has about 5,000 more pig confinements and cattle lots across the state than originally believed, a report to the federal government last month shows. That's nearly 50 percent more animal feeding operations than the state initially inventoried. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources discovered the facilities through satellite imagery, used to complete a comprehensive survey required under a 2013 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. READ MORE
September 18, 2017, Madison, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is considering adopting regional restrictions on manure spreading. If the proposal is accepted, it would mark the first time the agency has considered adopting rules that vary by geographic location. The targeted area currently being considered is comprised of 15 eastern Wisconsin counties. They include: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. READ MORE
September 13, 2017, Sioux Falls, SD – On paper, bigger is safer. South Dakota's regulations for large livestock operations are strict enough that even some water quality boosters believe larger, permitted feedlots are better for the state's waters than smaller, unregulated ones. But how strictly are the strict rules enforced? Critics worry the complaint-driven system falls short, with its announced inspections and what they see as plodding responses to reports of pollution. READ MORE
September 13, 2017, Lancaster, PA – The majority of farms got passing grades in Pennsylvania’s first year of expanded inspections in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Sixty-five percent of farms inspected under the new program met the manure-management planning requirements, and 63 percent were compliant on erosion and sedimentation planning. READ MORE
August 16, 2017, Des Moines, IA – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible livestock producers to assist with manure and nutrient management from their operations. This article provides updates of interest to producers and technical service providers who may be interested in or are pursuing assistance from NRCS. Open feedlots are an inexpensive but potentially environmentally risky way to operate an animal feeding operation. IA NRCS offers potential incentives to producers to decommission/remove open lots and convert to a roofed, confinement operation. A recently published pamphlet: "Open Feedlot Management – Best Options" offers information regarding open lot to confinement conversion. IA NRCS is in the process of updating the Waste Facility Storage-313 standard. This standard provides technical guidance for planning, design, and installation of agricultural waste containments. Some of the changes include: modification of structural design requirements to account for changes in accepted concrete and timber design, improvements in safety criteria, changing requirement of staff gauge from optional to required, and the addition of criteria specific to solid manure stacking facilities. Specific proposed changes include the removal of the IDNR Open Feedlot Effluent Alternatives for Open Feedlot Operations as an acceptable design alternative to meet NRCS requirements. Also, a minimum design period is being considered for storage facilities to better integrate animal waste systems with current management and cropping systems. A recently published IA Instruction: "Requirements for Subsurface Geologic Investigations for Animal Waste Storage Facilities" provides requirements that apply to technical service providers and other non-NRCS engineers who are providing technical assistance for NRCS programs. Compliance with this instruction will help ensure geologic investigative requirements have been fulfilled as noted in the deliverables of the appropriate conservation practice statement of work. Another instruction of interest for technical service providers for NRCS programs is the "Technical and Financial Assistance for an Animal Feeding Operation and the Associated Land Application of Manure Through a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)." This document provides guidance for the specific procedures, roles and responsibilities, and administrative and technical checklists to be used when technical service providers are involved in the conservation planning process for animal feeding operations. For more information regarding NRCS technical and financial assistance visit your local NRCS field office or visit the NRCS website.
August 11, 2017, Olympia, WA – The Washington Department of Ecology has asked an appeals board to dismiss claims by the dairy industry that the agency vastly underestimated the cost of complying with new manure-control rules. A motion filed Aug. 3 with the Pollution Control Hearings Board argues that WDE met its duty to compare costs for small and large dairies. The analysis led WDE to exempt dairies with fewer than 200 cows from the rules, which are meant to keep manure out of water. READ MORE
August 8, 2017, Celina, OH – About 40 area developers, politicians, farmers and business leaders gathered July 29 for the Our Land, Our Water Tour to learn more about land and manure-management efforts that could help improve Grand Lake's water quality. The event was hosted at Schmitmeyer Farm near Coldwater and was the second annual tour and presentation meant to bring together local people from all walks of life and educate them on efforts to improve the lake. READ MORE
August 8, 2017, Warsaw, NY – New state regulations that prevent farms from spreading manure on ground that is frozen or saturated has pushed improvements to agricultural waste storage capacities. “There’s a big demand across the state, with the [NYS] DEC requiring farms to have enough storage to get through the wet and rainy seasons,” Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Greg McKurth told The Daily News after a new round of Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program grants were announced August 7. READ MORE
July 26, 2017, Des Moines, IA - As one of 12 legislators who drafted the bill in 2002 that created the Master Matrix, a current member of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors tasked with reviewing Master Matrix applications, and a lifelong Iowa farmer, I have a unique perspective on the Master Matrix, its failings and how it could be improved.I support the recent petition presented by the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch because it is needed to restore balance to a system that has failed to adequately protect the rights of all Iowans, and certain precious natural resources unique to different counties, such as Karst topography in northeast Iowa.The Master Matrix is a scoring system that awards points for livestock producers who adopt additional practices greater than the minimum required by state law. Points are awarded for increasing the minimum separated distances between concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and churches, residences, public-use areas, and bodies of water. More restrictive manure management practices score additional points. The Master Matrix has a total of 44 questions that could result in a perfect score of 880 points, but only 440 points are required to get a passing grade.The Department of Natural Resources' analysis of the Master Matrix shows that certain questions pertaining to separated distances are easy to score points on and nearly every application does. Points are also awarded for practices, such as concrete manure storage structures, that are the industry standard. Other questions requiring air-quality monitoring, the installation of filters to reduce odors, demonstrating community support, implementing a worker safety and protection plan, or adopting an approved comprehensive nutrient management plan are almost never answered. READ MORE
July 10, 2017, Washington, D.C. - The American Biogas Council, the trade association for the U.S. biogas industry, praises the recent introduction of the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act (H.R. 2853), House companion legislation to Senate bill 988. The House bill was introduced by Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI-3) and Tom Reed (R-NY-23) with 22 original bipartisan cosponsors. That list of supporters recently grew to 25 including Rep. Susan Delbene (D-WA-01), Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02), Elise Stafanik (R-NY-21), Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Simpson (R-ID-2), Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-05), Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), David Valadao (R-CA-21), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), Todd Rokita (R-IN-04), Thomas Rooney (R-FL-17), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Rod Blum (R-IA-01), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-16), John Katko (R-NY-24), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), Chris Collins (R-NY-27), Tim Walz (D-MN-01), Sean Duffy (R-WI-07), and John Faso (R-NY-19).This bill, along with the Senate companion bill, (S. 988) introduced in early May, will increase agricultural viability by helping to deploy new nutrient recovery and biogas systems that recycles organic material into baseload renewable energy and healthy soil products. The Act provides a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for qualifying biogas and nutrient recovery systems."For a healthy economy, we need healthy soils and clean waterways. Biogas and nutrient recovery systems help us achieve cleaner, healthier soil and water and the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act will increase the deployment of these systems," said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council. "We thank Congressmen Reed, Kind and the other co-sponsors of this bill for recognizing the far reaching benefits of sustainable farming where organic material and nutrients should be recycled to create beneficial soil products, baseload renewable energy and jobs."The introduction of H.R. 2853, and the significant bipartisan support it has already received, reflects the critical need to support economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices that protect waterways and enrich soils. At the present time, there are no tax incentives to encourage biogas or nutrient recovery systems. A previous production tax credit under section 45 of the federal tax code which promoted the use of renewable electricity expired at the end of 2016. This new credit would promote the production of pipeline quality natural gas and compressed renewable natural gas vehicle fuel as well as nutrients which are essential to agricultural production."By creating incentives to make biogas and manure resource recovery technologies more affordable the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act will encourage more widespread use of manure digesters. This benefits society by decreasing nutrient runoff in waterways, decreasing farm odors, and improving water quality," said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.The Algae Biomass Organization's Executive Director, Dr. Matt Carr has also shared his organization's support. "By supporting investments in algae-based and other nutrient management systems, the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act will help farmers recycle valuable ag nutrients back into their operations and reduce the burden on taxpayers of recovering those nutrients downstream. It's a win-win for everyone."
June 28, 2017, Washington, D.C.– The National Pork Producers Council hailed today's announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it will propose a rule to rescind a controversial Clean Water Act regulation that gave the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.The proposal – expected to be published in the Federal Register in the coming days – will repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which ostensibly was implemented to clarify EPA's authority over various waters.Based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, EPA's jurisdiction had included "navigable" waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the WOTUS rule broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters."This is great news for America's pork producers," said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. "The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands."It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and likely would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers," Maschhoff added. "We're extremely grateful to President Trump and EPA Administrator [Scott] Pruitt for recognizing the dire consequences this ill-advised Obama-era regulation would have had on pork producers and all of American agriculture."NPPC helped lead the agricultural community's opposition to the WOTUS rule, including producing maps showing the extent of the lands affected by the regulation. (EPA's jurisdiction in Missouri, for example, would have increased to cover 77 percent of the state under the rule.) The organization also led the legal efforts against the rule, filing suit in a U.S. District Court and presenting a brief to a U.S. Court of Appeals. The latter halted implementation of the WOTUS rule shortly after its Aug. 28, 2015, effective date.Once the proposed repeal rule is published, it will be subject to a public comment period.
June 16, Winnipeg, Man. - The Manitoba Pork Council has been fighting the same battle for more than a decade.In 2006, the provincial government issued a moratorium on hog barn construction, saying it was necessary because hog manure was polluting Lake Winnipeg. That message has stuck with the public, despite strict regulations around manure management and hog industry efforts to change the narrative.The pork council plans to launch another information campaign this summer to try and make its case to urban Manitobans.George Matheson, council chair and hog producer from Stonewall, said the organization would be buying ad space in Winnipeg. The promotion is needed because anti-livestock groups and journalists are spreading incorrect information about Manitoba's hog producers.Matheson didn't specify which media but there have been many stories this spring, mostly in Winnipeg, suggesting the hog industry and its manure could endanger Lake Winnipeg. READ MORE
September 18, 2017, Madison, WI – The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) approved a conditional $15 million Focus on Energy grant to BC Organics, LLC for an innovative bioenergy system in Brown County. The system will produce renewable natural gas from dairy farm manure and other waste. The project will reduce the need to land-spread raw manure, protect sensitive groundwater and surface waters in northeastern Wisconsin, and provide positive economic benefits to participating farms. At the direction of Governor Walker, the PSC, Department of Natural Resources, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collaborated to develop a request for proposals (RFP) on innovative anaerobic digester systems that could produce renewable energy, remove nutrients from manure, protect water quality, and reduce pathogens. BC Organics was recommended unanimously by the evaluation team comprised of expert staff from the PSC, DNR, DATCP, UW-Madison and Focus on Energy. BC Organics must obtain all of the necessary state and local regulatory approvals before construction may begin and includes an odor control plan designed to minimize impacts to neighboring landowners. The consortium consists of 24 members led by Wisconsin-based Dynamic Concepts (Waukesha), along with WEC Energy Group (Milwaukee), US Biogas LLC (Plymouth), and BioStar Organics, among other Wisconsin based firms. The project’s proposed location is northeast of Holland, near Green Bay, is co-located with a proposed landfill owned by Brown County. It has commitments from nine Wisconsin farms with over 22,000 animal units, with the capability to expand to include additional farms in the future. The facility is expected to begin operations by January 1, 2019. The project will employee up to 20 full-time employees. The project involves the construction of multiple anaerobic digesters with capability to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) from manure and food waste, and eventually landfill gas. The estimated energy output of 5.7 million therms is equivalent to the home heating needs for 7,600 Wisconsin homes. The RNG will be injected into the interstate natural gas pipeline system for use as a heating and transportation fuel.  The project will improve water quality in surface and groundwater in Brown, Kewaunee, Calumet, and Door counties using advanced nutrient separation technologies to treat the wastewater and produce other beneficial by-products including, bedding for cattle, liquid fertilizer, and dry solids that can be converted to fertilizer or used as feedstock for a renewable electric generation facility. When fully operational the project will remove 577,837 pounds of phosphorus and generate 163 million gallons of clean water annually.  Wisconsin continues to lead the U.S. in on-farm digesters. BC Organics provides an innovative approach that could provide a model for eliminating the need to spread raw manure on the land and provides a framework that could be replicated in other parts of the state to improve environmental outcomes for the livestock industry. Specifically, it will help farmers reduce the water quality impacts of dairy farming in the karst region of northeastern Wisconsin by: reducing or eliminating the need to spread manure and overtopping lagoons; removing phosphorus from the waste stream; improving the efficiency of uptake of nutrients by plants; and virtually eliminating the pathogens in treated manure.
August 28, 2017, Haverhill, MA — It is going to decrease the smells emanating from a Bradford farm. It is going to improve the fertilizer needed to grow hay and corn.It will also provide enough energy to light up as many as 600 homes.An anaerobic digester — a structure that converts methane gas from cow manure and food waste into electricity — is coming to a two-acre plot of land on a hill atop Crescent Farm on Willow Avenue in Bradford.The farm's owners, the Davidowicz family, are hoping that construction of the digester — which will be managed by Vanguard Renewables of Wellesley — will begin this fall and that it will be up and running next year."We're going to start building it in October or November and it should be running by March or April," said Cody Davidowicz, the oldest son of the farm's owners, Michael and Debbie Davidowicz. Cody Davidowicz will be operating the digester.In May, the city inked a deal with Vanguard to purchase power generated by the digester for 13 cents a kilowatt hour, and estimates it will save the city as much as $300,000. READ MORE
July 27, 2017, California - A liquid organic biofertilizer made from the material that is left over after manure or food waste is digested to create clean electricity compares favorably in nutrient value with commonly used synthetic materials in trials on canning tomatoes and corn.UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering Ruihong Zhang designed an anaerobic biodigester nearly 10 years ago that is used to turn food waste from campus dining halls into clean energy.Several dairies have also invested in digesters to treat their manure, which would otherwise emit the greenhouse gas methane, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture offers grants to help defray the cost.Cost is the major stumbling block to more widespread use of the technology, and the trial of a biofertilizer made in the campus digester is an attempt to see if the bottom line can be made just a little more favorable. READ MORE
July 26, 2017, Petaluma, CA – Tesla, mooo-ve over: California dairy farmer Albert Straus, a pioneer in organic dairy and sustainable agriculture, announces the launch of the first full-scale electric truck – powered by cow manure.This new full-scale-electric feed truck is the next step in Straus' quest to show that his Marin county organic dairy farm can be carbon positive, using agriculture as a solution to reversing climate change.Straus, along with a local mechanic, spent eight years developing the 33,000 lb. gross weight truck to use as a feed truck on his farm. The truck measures, mixes and hauls feed before dropping it into the trough for his nearly 300 organic dairy cows. An environmentally-friendly alternative to diesel-fueled trucks, the feed truck's motor is charged from electrical power generated from methane gas produced by the cows' own manure.California dairy farmers are facing pressure to lower methane emissions under the state's ambitious new greenhouse gas reduction laws, which include methane emission reduction targets of 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. The state's Air Resources Board says that much of the reduction should come from converting methane from cow manure into energy. Dairy manure accounts for about a quarter of the state's methane emissions."What I've tried to do is create a sustainable organic farming model that is good for the earth, the soil, the animals, and the people working on these farms, and helps revitalize rural communities," said Albert Straus, CEO and founder of Straus Family Creamery.Straus added, "My electric feed truck is not only a practical tool for my organic farm. It is also a symbol of the resourcefulness we need to fight climate change, which threatens our business and the future of American farming."Straus' methane digester has been powering his farm since 2004, fueling his all-electric Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Leaf plus smaller farm vehicles and machinery. Working with the Marin Carbon Project, his 500-acre farm is California's first dairy to develop a 20-year carbon farming plan to sequester 2,000 metric tons of carbon every year. Straus' goal is to demonstrate to the farming community and public that farmers can implement and teach others practical solutions to climate change. Ultimately, Straus is working towards getting his farm off fossil fuels entirely.United States plug-in electrical vehicle sales have increased nine-fold since 2011, per Inside EVs. Yet Straus believes he is the first to put a full-scale electric feed truck into use, getting the jump on Tesla Motor's electric semi-truck slated for September 2017 release.Next, he plans to unveil an all-electric Farmers' Market truck to transport his company Straus Family Creamery's organic milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream and butter to local markets in San Francisco Bay Area.
July 25, 2017, Canyon County, ID - A group of businessmen, mostly from the Treasure Valley, is proposing to build a $94 million plant in rural Canyon County to turn sorghum into paper plates and other food-packaging products, and to turn sorghum waste, manure and slaughterhouse waste into natural gas for energy.The plant would be built on farmland where U.S. 26 meets U.S. 95 southeast of Parma. It has cleared several local zoning and permitting challenges. Now comes the hard part: raising money to build it, starting with $18 million for a first phase.The group has formed a company called Treasure Valley Renewables. Its members include people with experience in manufacturing, ethanol plants, pulping mills and anaerobic (oxygen-free bacterial) digester operations.The three-building plant would house about 75 jobs paying an average of $45,000 per year, says Chuck Anderson, a leader of the ownership group. Anderson is president of Boise Bio Gas and owner of QBM Management in Boise, a project-management and process-analysis company.One part of the plant would turn sorghum into fiber molds Anderson says would make a biodegradable material for producers looking to replace Styrofoam food packaging material.Neither product offers the kind of instant riches that venture capitalists usually target when they invest millions into technology companies, Anderson says. But Anderson, who has spent a career engineering paper plants for large companies, says he's confident the plant promises the kind of steady profits to attract investors. READ MORE 
July 6, 2017, Haverhill, MA - Neighbors of Haverhill's Crescent Farm will soon notice a change in the air — literally.The farm, which has nearly 200 dairy cows, will begin construction on an anaerobic waste digester the week of July 10. It aims to begin using the machine to convert manure into renewable methane fuel within seven months.The digester, the sixth in the state and fourth constructed and managed by Wellesley's Vanguard Renewables, will convert roughly 100 tons of manure and organic food waste per day. "Once it's running at full capacity, the digester will provide direct power to about 950 homes in the area," said John Hanselman, chairman of Vanguard Renewables. READ MORE
June 14, 2017, Deerfield, Mass. - Peter Melnik, a fourth generation dairy farmer from Deerfield, Massachusetts, is a firm believer a farm should be economically and environmentally sustainable. This belief started him on a 10-year search for a way to make an anaerobic digester work on his farm."At first I thought I could build a small digester to produce enough electricity for my farm," Melnick said. "Then the concept of food waste was introduced to me and the story just grows from there."The recent announcement of an alliance between Dairy Farmers of America and Vanguard Renewables, a Massachusetts-based renewable energy developer, was the missing piece of the puzzle for Melnik. READ MORE
May 30, 2017, U.S. - A pair of federal efforts could make it more profitable to turn organic waste from agriculture and other sources into energy by taking advantage of the Renewable Fuel Standard.One is a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that would create a 30 percent investment tax credit for qualifying biogas and nutrient-recovery systems. That would put renewable compressed natural gas on a similar footing with solar and wind energy.A separate approach, currently before the Environmental Protection Agency, aims to create a pathway that would pay biogas producers for providing power for electric vehicles.An energy consultant from Des Moines is one of several people in the U.S. trying to devise a record-keeping system that ultimately would pay biogas producers much more than they now earn for generating electricity. READ MORE
May 29, 2017, Boston, MA - For years, dairy farmers have used cow manure as fertilizer to spread over crops like corn and hay. But two farms in Western Massachusetts have a new use for all that manure -- renewable energy.Luther Belden Farm in Hatfield and Rockwood Farms in Granville are embarking on a project to turn cow manure into electricity as a way to become self-sustaining and stabilize their finances in what they say is a volatile market.The farms are working in partnership with the the Hampshire Council of Governments and Pennsylvania-based startup Ag-Grid Energy.The farms hope to break ground on two on-site agricultural anaerobic digesters this summer. READ MORE
May 24, 2017, Granville, Mass. – The Town of Granville could soon be using cattle to create energy.The town's select board plans to power their municipal buildings with credits from Rockwood Farm, which is planning to build a methane digestor.A digestor converts manure into methane gas, which will run a generator that will heat and power the farm. The farm will sell its metering credits to the town.The local renewable energy would reduce the cost for powering town buildings. READ MORE
May 23, 2017, Potsdam, NY – Clarkson University will use federal funding to advance anaerobic digestion techniques for small-to-medium-scale dairy farmers.The university will work in conjunction with the Cornell Cooperative Extension farm dairy specialists on farms working to improve manure management.U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced $500,000 in new federal funding for Clarkson University.The funding was allocated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).NIFA grants support research and programs that help dairy producers and growers achieve long-term viability, high yield, and labor efficient production of local agricultural products. READ MORE
May 19, 2017, Waunakee, WI - Once infamous for spills, permit violations and even an explosion, the manure digester just north of Waunakee is now receiving accolades from an environmental group dedicated to clean lakes.The Clean Lakes Alliance presented Clean Fuel Partners, LLC, the digester operator, with the Lumley Leadership Award for Lake Stewardship for its efforts to reduce phosphorus entering the Yahara Watershed."We were completely surprised and caught off guard when we were announced," said Clean Fuel CEO John Haeckel. "I would like to think it's because we have been working to make the Waunakee facility work, to sort of resurrect it from a place where it wasn't successful."The manure digester was originally built in partnership with Dane County and operated by a different company, Clear Horizons, with the intention of removing algae-causing phosphorus from three area farms that would otherwise flow into lakes and streams.The digester also captures methane in the process to produce energy. READ MORE
August 18, 2017, Indiana - Fair Oaks Farms co-founder Sue McCloskey now has a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for general awesomeness.McCloskey, who launched the hugely popular agritourism farm on the border of Jasper and Newton counties, was one of 15 women to receive an Awesome Women Award in the August edition of Good Housekeeping, which hits newsstands Tuesday. She was lauded for her work in turning manure into clean fuel that powers vehicles at the farm, as well as 42 delivery trucks of Fairs Oaks cheese and dairy products. READ MORE 
August 17, 2017, Chevy Chase, MD - If there is one point on which most Americans agree, it is that technology will play an increasingly important role in the way we live and work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that in just three years there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs, and only 400,000 qualified job candidates.In response, 4‑H, America's largest youth development organization, and Google are coming together for a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) collaboration that will teach kids both technical skills like coding, and essential skills students will need in the future like, teamwork and resilience. But the program isn't just about programming computers, it's about helping students learn skills they'll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way across every discipline from business to engineering to the arts.The collaboration is funded by a $1.5 million grant from Google.org to establish a CS program that will empower more than 100,000 young people across 22 states in its first year. The collaboration will include an effort to reach communities where youth traditionally have limited access to computers, internet or CS training. With Google's support, 4‑H will equip community educators with new funding, curriculum, training, devices and the support of Google CS experts. As with most 4‑H programs, the effort will feature teen-led, peer-to-peer mentoring.4‑H and Google publicly announced the collaboration today at a press conference at the Illinois State Fair, where they also debuted a new 4‑H-themed virtual reality Expedition showcasing 4‑H youth using technology to improve their communities."It is incredibly exciting to combine the power of 4‑H with the impact of Google's philanthropy, products and people," said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of National 4‑H Council. "Working together, our two organizations will make a tremendous difference in the lives of young people by making computer science education accessible and engaging. No matter where kids live or what they aspire to be, these are skills that will help them succeed."The collaboration between 4‑H and Google lays the groundwork for 4‑H to deliver computer science education across the organization, which reaches nearly six million kids in every county and parish in the United States. It establishes an official 4‑H Computer Science Career Pathway, which helps kids progress from casual interest in CS, to dedicated studies and ultimately career experience. Utah State University Extension's 4‑H program is a key partner in co-creating the 4‑H CS Career Pathway and developing tools for educators to implement the program."We are proud to be a part of this effort to bring hands-on programming to our nation's youth," said Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org. "It's important for kids to develop a wide range of skills, like computer science skills, analytical thinking and creative problem solving, and our work with National 4‑H Council will help ensure that kids across the country have access to a better future."In its first year, the program is available in the following states: Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.Parents and educators seeking more information on how to get involved can reach out to their local 4‑H office at HTTP://4-H.ORG/FIND/.
August 16, 2017, Sacramento, CA – CDFA will begin accepting applications today from non-profit organizations, California academic institutions and California Resource Conservation Districts that provide technical assistance to grant applicants in the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP).Applicants may apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. They must meet several minimum requirements, including holding at least one technical assistance workshop, reporting on workshop attendance to CDFA, and providing computers and internet access to allow dairy and livestock operators to complete AMMP applications.Technical assistance will be made available through a partnership between CDFA and the Strategic Growth Council to achieve the mutual objective of providing technical assistance to AMMP applicants. Technical assistance workshops that provide hands-on application assistance are critical to the success of AMMP and the reduction of methane emissions from dairy and livestock operations.Organizations that wish to receive funding to provide technical assistance must access the "Technical Assistance: Request for Applications" at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/. The Request for Applications contains detailed information on eligibility and program requirements. Applications must be submitted by email no later than August 16, 2017, 5:00 p.m. PDT. Grants will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis beginning today.AMMP is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities. The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investment projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more. At least 35 percent of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities. For more information, visit California Climate Investments. This effort is in partnership with the Strategic Growth Council which provides technical and community outreach assistance funds from the California Climate Investments.
August 15, 2017, Madison, WI - The Wisconsin State Assembly will honor of the life a young farmer who died on this date a year ago as a result of a farming accident.Mike Biadasz, 29, went out to agitate a manure pit on his family's farm near Amherst, when the crust layer on top of the pit opened, hydrogen sulfide gas was expelled. He died on Aug. 15, 2016 after being poisoned by methane gas.The Assembly honored the young resident with a resolution that acknowledged his dedication to farming and the need for best practices to be established for manure pit agitation that mitigate risk and educate the public on hydrogen sulfide poisoning and other toxic gases.  The 2017 State of Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 6, reads:Relating to: honoring the life and contributions of Michael "Mike" Robert Biadasz.Whereas, Michael "Mike" Robert Biadasz was born on March 22, 1987, in Stevens Point and passed away on August 15, 2016; andWhereas, Mike attended Amherst Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Amherst High School in 2005; andWhereas, Mike dedicated his life to farming at a young age, attending Mid-State Technical College in Marshfield and Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and advancing in the Farming and Agricultural program; andWhereas, Mike lived by the adage, "Live today like you are going to die tomorrow, but farm today like you are going to farm forever"; andWhereas, Mike enjoyed hunting and the outdoors and spending time with friends and family, and always loved to make people laugh; andWhereas, Mike was considered by many as a best friend and touched so many people throughout his life that more than 1,200 people attended his visitation to pay their respects; andWhereas, Mike will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and neighbors; andWhereas, Mike is survived by his parents, Robert and Diane Biadasz of Amherst, and three sisters: Amy (Tim) Tryba of River Falls and their children Everett, Bennett, and Hewitt; Lisa (Nathan) Grezenski of Rosholt and their children Jacob, Tyler, and Natalie; and Megan (Matt) Check of Wausau; andWhereas, Mike's legacy will live on in his family and friends, who are encouraging farmers to attend safety training classes for best practices in manure pit management and heightening public awareness of hydrogen sulfide poisoning along with other toxic gases; now, therefore, be itResolved by the assembly, That the members of the Wisconsin State Assembly declare August 15, 2017, Mike Biadasz Day and recognize that his lifelong passion of farming will live on in his legacy; and, be it furtherResolved, That the members of the Wisconsin State Assembly call upon all stakeholders in public health, agriculture, education, and training that best practices be established for manure pit agitation that mitigate risk and educate the public on hydrogen sulfide poisoning and other toxic gases. Resolved, That the assembly chief clerk shall provide a copy of this joint resolution to Robert and Diane Biadasz.
August 14, 2017, New Richland, MN - Hi-Way 30 Hogs proposes to double its swine facility located about four miles west of New Richland from 2,400 to 4,800 hogs.Due to the proposed expansion, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is conducting an environmental review and is accepting comments through August 23.The facility in Section 15 of Byron Township currently has one barn that holds up to 2,400 swine. Keith Schlaak of Hi-Way 30 Hogs proposes to build a second barn and double the size of the rural New Richland operation. READ MORE 
August 11, 2017, Chicago, IL – AMP Americas – a renewable natural gas (RNG) producer and marketer, plus compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel and infrastructure operator – recently announced a $47 million equity commitment from equity firm EIV Capital. The equity commitment will allow AMP Americas to pursue growth opportunities across its businesses. AMP Americas is fueling the transformation of the nation’s heavy-duty trucking sector by providing clean, low cost natural gas and 100 percent renewable natural gas for vehicles. AMP Americas operates three business units – Renewable Dairy Fuels produces 100 percent renewable natural gas at its biogas facility at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana, ampCNG owns and operates a nationwide network of 20 public-access, ultra-fast fill CNG fueling stations, and ampRenew sources RNG for partner CNG stations and ampCNG stations and provides risk management to help fleets and station owners reduce risk and save money. By taking advantage of an abundant domestic fuel source – dairy waste – and converting it into valuable, clean, carbon-negative transportation fuel, AMP Americas is saving fleets money, improving air quality and reducing GHG emissions. “As an integrated clean energy company with production and distribution assets across the country, we wanted a partner with proven success in both the traditional and renewable energy sectors that could help us scale and execute our aggressive growth plans,” said Grant Zimmerman, CEO at AMP Americas. “EIV Capital has an excellent track record growing energy businesses and will help us as we invest in new biogas production, new fueling stations, and in growing our team.” “We’re excited to partner with AMP Americas and to support them as they lead the way in CNG and RNG,” said Patti Melcher, managing partner at EIV Capital. “With its history of leadership and innovation, experienced management team and portfolio of high quality assets, AMP Americas is in an excellent position to flourish in this exciting and important market.”
August 2, 2017, Marshfield, WI - Mike Biadasz's death has spurred his family to help prevent a similar farm tragedy from occurring again.The 29-year-old and six cattle on his family's farm near Amherst were overcome by toxic gas released from a manure pit last year.Today, the Biadasz Family donated $40,000 it raised to the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC) based at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute and Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach (CCO) establishing the Mike Biadasz Farm Safety and Education Memorial Fund. Farmers can apply for a rebate that covers the cost for a portable gas monitor device that detects gas levels and alerts them when potentially lethal levels are reached. READ MORE 
When Tim Sigrist came back to the family farm in Dundee, Ohio, after college, his father John told him he needed to find a new revenue stream. Eventually that would be a booming composted manure business, but first Tim drove a canned milk route.“Not long after, we learned that the soil surrounding the farm where we had been spreading liquid manure was completely saturated with nutrients,” he remembers. “At the time, in the early 1990s, we had over 350 dairy cattle. Our extension agent suggested composting our solid manure and we decided to try it as a way to deal with the excess manure. The idea of selling the compost came later.”There were no best practices available for manure composting – let alone much basic research – so Tim was left to experiment with different methods (more on that later). But success was achieved and by 1994, Bull Country Compost was born. Demand was strong right away – Sigrist made the product attractive by offering delivery – but as word spread, demand started to outstrip supply. They needed more manure, and about three years in, another revenue stream was born through taking horse manure from their Amish neighbors along with manure from other area farms.Nowadays, Bull Country Compost is one of the largest Class III EPA-inspected composting facilities in Northeast Ohio.“In 2016, we sold over 45,000 bags of compost, up from 36,000 in 2014,” Sigrist says proudly. “But we actually sell more product in bulk cubic yards than in bagged form to both consumer and retail markets.”Ten percent of the manure currently comes from their farm (Tim’s parents John and Linda sold the dairy cows in 2013 but continue to raise about 120 dairy heifers), with the remaining from other farms, auction barns and seasonal fairs.“We have farms where we haul out once a year and others where we do pick-up every week,” says Sigrist. “All locations pay us to take it away and there is a monthly fee to have a dumpster placed. Due to wear and tear on the dumpsters and the extensive cost of trucking – and the fact that some locations are up to 100 miles away – we can’t haul it for free.” Indeed, it was early on that Sigrist realized it would be easier to provide large manure collection bins at farms, and that number of bins continues to grow.“They’re 30-yard roll-off dumpsters made by a nearby manufacturer,” he says. “Because manure is so corrosive, we have to continually repair and replace them.”  Back when he started, Tim knew the basics of composting. Factors such as the type of manure, composting method (oxygenation) and weather would all affect timelines and quality of the final product. He first tried windrows turned by tractor, but it was labor intensive and the Ohio rains kept the material too wet. He researched various types of vessel structures and built one of his own with a concrete base.“It was 150-by-80 feet with a homemade top supported by wood beams,” Sigrist explains. “There were two rows of material 10-feet wide.”   View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.manuremanager.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=latest&layout=latest&Itemid=1#sigProGalleria0cf9e00754 Over time, he added more vessels, making them wider to accommodate larger equipment, better aerated and better able deal with excess water. Older vessels were aerated using pipes running through the manure, and newer vessels have aeration constructed into the concrete floor through ditches with perforated pipes. This arrangement allows liquid to flow out as composting proceeds.“The liquid is captured in a drainage system that empties into our manure lagoon,” Sigrist explains. “There is a small fan in each vessel that feeds into the perforated pipes to aid air flow, and this significantly increases the temperature as well.”Newer vessels also sport a higher hoop roof, which also boosts airflow.  The manure is composted for six to eight weeks being moved to one of three curing sheds for six to eight months. Screening is next, then bagging in the bagging shed or placement in piles for bulk sale. Sigrist created the bagging system using auger equipment and a homemade conveyor, with which four employees can bag and stack almost five tons of compost an hour. In total, Bull Country Compost has eight vessels, with 3,000 yards of material continually being processed by about nine employees, some full-time and some part-time/seasonal (Sigrist says that similarly to many industries, finding people willing to do manual labor like bagging can be difficult). The entire operation stretches over three acres. Multiple groups from both Ohio State University and various local soil and water conservation districts have toured the site, and Sigrist has hosted curious visitors from as far away as Alaska. While years ago people were generally unsure about composted manure, that has changed. “It’s been 25 years and we have many loyal customers,” Sigrist says. “Word of mouth is the best advertisement there is. Also, many of our retail locations have an open bag of compost beside the pallet of bags for sale, and this helps people to ‘see, smell and feel’ the compost. Also, through the media and internet, people’s general awareness of soil and environmental health has risen and many consumers have learned the difference between raw manure and compost on their own.” The farm is still active, with the heifers and 500 acres of crops. Sigrist says the manure composting and farm activities support each other in unique ways, making the entire operation able to support multiple generations of his family. The composting business has also allowed the family to branch out into offering other services such as custom litter spreader application and custom harvesting. No specific new markets or products are being pursued, but Sigrist says they are always keen to gain a larger share of the soil amendment market at garden centers, and always listen to feedback from customers and garden professionals.“The entire journey has been a big learning experience,” he reflects. “From finding new markets and keeping up with growth to creating vessels and streamlining the process, we had to develop our own model as there weren’t any of its kind at the time.”One project Sigrist hopes finish in the future is to pipe heat generated by the compost to the bagging shed.“That way, bagging can start earlier in the year in more comfort,” he says. “I haven’t gotten to it yet, but in the meantime, we bought the employees nice insulated jackets!”
July 28, 2017, Vancouver, B.C. - A spin-off company from the University of British Columbia is promising to make a crap job a good deal easier and cleaner, with a scalable waste-processing system.Manure management practices on local dairy farms routinely raise a stink from their residential neighbours when the slurry is sprayed on fields, as well as from American farmers who complain of cross-border water pollution resulting from excess nutrient runoff.Boost Environmental Systems, a new firm, is testing a system that uses microwave heat and hydrogen peroxide to drastically reduce the volume and the composition of manure and sewage solids. The resulting waste is easily digestible with existing systems and the liquid is a rich source of a commercially valuable fertilizer called struvite.Demonstration-sized units are installed at the UBC Dairy Education Centre in Agassiz and the James Wastewater Treatment Plant in Abbotsford, according to Chief Technology Officer Asha Srinivasan, a post-doctoral fellow at UBC. A third pilot installation is being planned with Metro Vancouver. READ MORE 
July 20, 2017, NY - On Wednesday, Aug. 9, the New York Ag Leadership Luncheon at Empire Farm Days will honor Mike and Peter Dueppengiesser as recipients of the 2017 Agricultural Environmental Management Award. Ag Commissioner Richard Ball is scheduled to present the Empire State's top environmental award to this third-generation family farm for their exemplary environmental management.The brothers' Dueppengiesser Dairy Co. of Perry, N.Y., is proof that farms can grow and be both sustainable and profitable by being environmentally responsible. They closely worked with Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District to meet the state's top (Tier 5) standards while growing their business from 110 milking cows and 750 acres in 1990 to today's 1,100-cow milking herd and 2,100 cropland acres. READ MORE 
July 19, 2017, Vermont -  You can tell a lot about a farm by looking closely at the soil. That's why the new, statewide program to recognize Vermont's most environmentally friendly farmers will be based on soil-sampling and monitoring. Today, Governor Phil Scott announced the pilot launch of the new Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP), which will use soil-based analysis to identify farmers who are going above and beyond to protect our natural resources.Surrounded by state and federal officials at the North Williston Cattle Company, owned by the Whitcomb family, Governor Scott emphasized the important role farmers play in Vermont communities.The program is a partner effort by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and the University of Vermont Extension.
July 19, 2017, Washington - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced July 7, an award of $1 million to the Stillaguamish Tribe for an innovative project in dairy nutrient management at Natural Milk Dairy in Stanwood.As the lone recipient in Washington state of a nationally funded Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), the tribe proposes to demonstrate successful implementation of an emerging animal nutrient treatment system for dairy farms. The technology, originally developed to address human waste in developing countries, is now being adapted to treat dairy nutrients. READ MORE
September 5, 2017, Manawa, WI - Although manure provides valuable nutrients, especially nitrogen, to high N-requiring crops such as corn, proper application is key to keeping those nutrients in the soil while reducing soil erosion.Methods of applying manure into the ground without significantly disturbing the soil were presented to area farmers at the recent summer field day sponsored by the Waupaca County Forage Council.During the morning presentations, speakers noted that a large portion of nitrogen, about half in typical liquid dairy manure, is in ammonium or urea form and can potentially be lost to the air as ammonia if the manure is not incorporated into the soil promptly.Historically, tillage has been the most common method of incorporation, but tillage and, to a lesser extent, standard injection reduce crop residue cover, leaving the field more susceptible to erosion.A common goal among producers is to find new methods for applying liquid dairy manure to maximize manure N availability while maintaining crop residue cover for erosion control.One of the field-day presenters, Dan Brick, of Brickstead Dairy near Greenleaf in Brown County, has become an active conservation leader, who's committed to finding solutions that maintain environmental quality while improving soil fertility.Through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP), Brick invested in an additional 2.9-million-gallon concrete manure structure to contain manure and milk house waste through the winter until it can be spread safely as fertilizer in the spring on his 900 acres of crop and hay ground. READ MORE
August 18, 2017, Arlington, WI – The clock is ticking with less than one week before the North American Manure Expo begins.The 2017 edition of the annual show celebrating all things manure–related is being held August 22 and 23, 2017, at the University of Wisconsin's Arlington Agricultural Research Station, located about 20 miles north of Madison near Arlington, WI.Two action-packed days have been planned. On August 22, attendees can choose from one of three tours featuring visits to a local dairy-based anaerobic digester, examples of swine and dairy manure processing, plus composting and low disturbance manure application. The buses are filling up and space is limited. Tour registration costs $20 and is available online at manureexpo.org.Pit agitation demos will also be held that afternoon at the research center followed by a stop by some cover crop plots. The trade show will open at noon and industry sessions – including Puck's Pump School, a gas safety seminar plus a demonstration involving control of pit foaming – will be held starting at 4 p.m.On August 23, the grounds will open at 7:30 a.m. and feature a morning of educational sessions. Twenty-four topics will be presented in four separate tents.Manure safety and manure management tools• Improving safety practices around manure storages• Manure safety• Basics of gas monitoring equipment and procedures• Nutrient management planning for Wisconsin farms: SnapPlus software• Integrating erosion and P assessment with SnapPlus• Wisconsin's runoff risk advisory forecastManure as a fertilizer resource• Manure analysis trends and sample collection techniques• Dairy manure application methods• Secondary and micro-nutrients available in dairy manure• Maximizing nutrient value from manure storages• Microbial response to organic matter additions to soils• Use of nitrification inhibitors with manureManure application techniques and technology• Replacing commercial sidedress nitrogen with liquid manure on emerging corn using drag hose• Manure application uniformity• Replacing commercial sidedress nitrogen with liquid manure on emerging corn using a modified tanker• Nutrient separation or improved hauling logistics• Slurry seeding of cover crops• Evaluating the environmental benefits and economic opportunities of windrowing composted dairy manureManure and environmental protection• How does manure application timing impact P runoff?• Manure during winter: How to manage• Nitrogen dynamics in manured systems• Minimizing manure and nutrient transport to tile systems• Public perceptions• Can cover crops and tillage help reduce erosion and P losses?Speakers include university researchers, manure management specialists, professional engineers, agricultural agency staff, and custom manure haulers. Twelve continuing education units (CEUs) have been approved by the American Society of Agronomy's Certified Crop Advisor Program. Other state- and association-specific continuing education or certification credits are also available. They will are listed on manureexpo.org.Manure application demonstrations, including solid and liquid manure spreaders plus compost turners are also planned during the afternoon of August 23.Registration is free (tours are $20) and available online at manureexpo.org.
August 10, 2017 – Manure is a reality in raising farm animals. Manure can be a useful fertilizer, returning valued nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil for plant growth. But manure has problems. Odor offensiveness, gas emissions, nutrient runoff, and possible water pollution are just a few. Timing is also a problem. Livestock produce manure 24/7 – even when it is impractical or unwise to move it to the field. Delivering manure to the field needs to be timed to nutrient needs, soil moisture levels, and temperature. How can farmers handle this timing issue, as well as other manure problems? In cities, sewers and water treatment facilities deal with human waste. On farms, manure storage lagoons can hold the manure until the time is ripe. This solves the timing and delivery problem – but what about odor and gas emissions? In addition to the inconvenience of odor, manure can release gases connected to air pollution and climate change. Methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide are examples. Scientist Brian Dougherty and colleagues researched methods to reduce these negatives while potentially adding some positives: biochar covers. Biochar is plant matter, such as straw, woody debris, or corn stalks, that has been heated to high temperatures in a low- to no-oxygen environment. The result is a black, carbon-rich material similar to charcoal. Dougherty says biochar is like a sponge. “Biochar provides a structure with lots of empty pore space,” he says. “The outer surface may appear small but the interior surface area is absolutely massive. A few ounces of biochar can have an internal surface area the size of a football field. There is a lot of potential there for holding on to water and nutrients.” In addition to its hidden storage capacity, the surface of the biochar tends to have a chemical charge. This gives biochar the ability to attract and hold nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ions, metals, and other compounds. Biochar can also float (some types more than others). That attribute means it can trap gases at the water’s surface. Growing up on a dairy farm, Dougherty is no stranger to the challenges of manure storage. “Once I realized the properties of biochar, I thought it had good potential for a lagoon cover,” he says. Dougherty’s research studied two liquid dairy manures with differing nutrient levels. It also studied two types of biochars, made at different temperatures. Biochar is somewhat fickle, showcasing different properties when created at different temperatures. He also included pails of manure with a straw cover for comparison, and au natural with no cover as his control. The research found that the biochars picked up the most nutrients from the more concentrated manure with a higher nutrient content. “The biochar will take up whatever it can, so if there are more nutrients available the potential for nutrient uptake is greater,” Dougherty says. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are nutrients with the greatest economic value on a farm, but applying them in excess of what the crop can take up can lead to nutrient loss to the watershed. Dougherty also measured the ammonia at the top of each pail. Ammonia and sulfates are the main source of manure’s odor. The cooler-crafted biochar did best here, reducing ammonia by 72 to 80 percent. It also floated better. But because it floated better and tended to repel water, it was less effective at attracting and attaching to the nutrients than the warmer-crafted biochar. Biochar is currently more expensive to buy than straw, but Dougherty is undaunted. Biochar could have a good economic return: excess farm and forestry residue could be used to create the biochar on site. This process generates energy that could be used heat water and warm buildings during colder months. There is also potential for generating electricity, fuels, and other by-products using more sophisticated equipment. After its use in the lagoon, the biochar could be spread on fields as needed. Any excess could be sold as a high-value fertilizer product. And biochar has great environmental benefits. “Anything you can do to prevent gases from escaping the lagoon is a good thing,” Dougherty says. “Biochar applied to soils – particularly poorer quality soils – is very helpful. Making biochar can also help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. A portion of the carbon dioxide that was taken in during plant growth ends up as a very stable form of carbon in the soil. The overall picture has multiple benefits.” Dougherty’s research did not avoid the obvious. Would biochar or straw best improve the dairy air? Since the human nose knows, Dougherty recruited a panel of judges. The weather intervened, however, with freezing temperatures and rain affecting the odor intensity over the 12-week trial. Despite these challenges, three different biochars were shown to reduce odor from liquid dairy manure, whereas a straw cover was not effective. “Determining the best trade-off of biochar properties will be an important next step,” Dougherty says. “More research could find the right biochar production temperature, particle size, pH, and float properties. The potential is there.” This portion of the research still needs to be sniffed out. Read more about Dougherty’s biochar research in Journal of Environmental Quality.
August 1, 2017, Ames, IA – Summer is here and it’s brought dry weather throughout much of the state. This type of weather is a great time to check over your manure management systems and make sure it will keep doing its job. A great place to start is with your manure storage. Fall application season is still a ways away, but a little planning now can make sure you have the flexibility to manage your manure like the fertilizer resource it is, and to make sure your storage will keep functioning for years to come. Proper management and maintenance is necessary to prevent manure from overflowing or discharging from a storage system. Whether the manure storage is in an earthen tank, a slurry store, or a deep pit, the basic principles to maintaining and managing the storage structure are similar. In any case, frequent evaluation and preventative maintenance will significantly reduce your risk and keep your manure where you want it. Monitor the operating level of your manure storages. Have a staff gauge or a method for determining how much manure is already in your storage. Keeping track of how much manure is there can give insight into if you have enough capacity to make it to your next land application window. If you are worried you may run short this will give you an early opportunity to evaluate how you are going to handle the situation when your storage gets full. Monitoring the level can also alert you to if anything unexpected is occurring, for instance, your manure storage isn’t filling up or filling up really quickly because of a water leak or outside drainage water getting in. Visual structure inspection. A quick look over the storage can tell you a lot about how your structure is holding up – as you walk around, pay close attention to inlet points, connections, and where the sidewalls connect to the base. To make this easier make sure you are mowing around your storage and cutting down trees, watching for animal burrows, and making sure clean water is being diverted around your manure storage structure. Odor evaluation. I know odor can be a stink of a topic, but it’s something we have to deal with. Make it a part of your routine to go around your farm once a week and make a note of the odor intensity and what neighbors may be smelling. Unfortunately there usually are not easy fixes, but for those of you interested in learning more about potential odor options check out AMPAT. Safety check. We all recognize there are some safety challenges to working in and around manure storage systems. Take the time to review your safety protocols and update as needed. Taking the time to go over them will remind everyone that they are important and to protect us. While you are at it make sure to check any fences, escape ladders, and warning signs you have posted to make sure they are still in good shape, readable, and present. Clean water diversions. Minimizing outside water entering a manure storage helps keep nutrient concentrations higher making it an economic fertilizer for a farm to use. Check over the clean water diversions around your farm to make sure things like silage piles, mortality compost piles, and in-ground manure storage piles aren’t receiving water from other areas. Application equipment. Manure equipment lives a tough life, it gets used quick for a month and then put away. Take the time to check it over now before you need it again this fall and get that one last part that you’ve been meaning to fix.
Time to clear the calendar and scrub off the rubber boots. The North American Manure Expo is coming.The 2017 edition of the annual show celebrating all things manure-related is being held August 22 and 23, 2017, at the University of Wisconsin’s Arlington Agricultural Research Station, located about 20 miles north of Madison near Arlington, WI.“Wisconsin is very excited to be able to host the 2017 North American Manure Expo,” said 2017 expo chairs George Koepp and Richard Halopka. “The theme for this expo is ‘Innovation, Research, and Solutions’ and it is driving our focus to showcase how manure application professionals, researchers, and industry are all working together to apply manure nutrients to our fields and crops in environmentally safe, efficient, and financially productive ways.”Two action-packed days have been planned for the expo. On August 22, attendees can choose from one of three tours featuring visits to a local dairy-based anaerobic digester, examples of swine and dairy manure processing, plus composting and low disturbance manure application. Pit agitation demos will also be held at the research center in the afternoon. The trade show will open at noon and industry sessions, including Puck’s Pump School, will be held later in the evening.On August 23, the grounds will open at 7:30 a.m. and feature a full day of educational sessions covering everything from atmospheric emissions to soil health. Manure application demonstrations, including solid and liquid manure spreaders, plus compost turners are also planned.“This is a great opportunity for farmers, manure applicators, equipment manufacturers, and researchers to gather, share information, and develop even more environmentally friendly and effective ways to apply manure nutrients to our cropland,” added Koepp and Halopka.The 2017 North American Manure Expo is being hosted by the University of Wisconsin, UW-Extension, and the Professional Nutrient Applicators’ Association of Wisconsin, which also owns the event. Annex Business Media, publisher of Manure Manager magazine, serves as the show manager.Registration is free [tours are $20] and available online at manureexpo.org.
July 31, 2017, Waunakee, WI - A coalition of government, farmers, businesses and clean water advocates have come up with plan to help more farmers in southern Wisconsin apply liquid manure more effectively without disturbing the soil so other conservation practices can be protected.Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the partnership July 13 at Carl F. Statz and Sons machinery dealer in Waunakee, another partner in the project.The effort will make available a Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar – a way to apply liquid manure while cutting down on soil erosion, odors and the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields, Parisi said during a short ceremony."Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy while providing farmers with innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way," he said.Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and the toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from the Waunakee-based implement dealer to haul the tanker and LDMI toolbar on each participant's fields.The county's share of the deal is contingent upon approval of the allocation by the county board.Brian Peterson, with Field's, a Mt. Horeb-based manure handling business, said it makes sense to him to have a specific tractor dedicated to using the manure-injection equipment."That will give it uniformity from use to use," he said. "They wanted to have something that any farmer could use."The unit which was at the press conference is one that is being used on a Waunakee area farm, Henson Brothers Dairy, and several other farmers in the watershed are using the technology. Field's will supply a new manure tanker, toolbar and unit once the deal is finalized.The technology was shown to farmers at a Yahara Pride field day and it created a lot of interest, Peterson said. "Farmers like it because you can't see a lot of disturbance after it goes over the field – not like you'd see with a shovel-type injector."The flow is based on a pump and PTO speed as well as tractor speed, he explained and the unit coming for Yahara Pride will have a flow meter which will indicate to the driver how many gallons are going on."This system, once it was showcased in this watershed, built interest further away than just right around here," Peterson said. "It has been building interest through the county and the region." READ MORE 
July 27, 2017, McKinney, Texas – Global Re-Fuel is an energy technology company that is poised to make a significant impact on poultry farming. Its PLF-500 biomass furnace offers a pioneering farm technology that addresses financial, health and environmental issues facing the agriculture industry.Global Re-Fuel's warm-air biomass furnace – now in use on a farm in Texas – converts raw poultry litter into energy, providing heat to broiler houses while creating a pathogen-free organic fertilizer."A ton of litter has the equivalent energy content of 67 gallons of propane. Extracting that heat and using the ash as fertilizer is a really good situation, which not only helps farmers, but is also beneficial to the environment," says Glenn Rodes, a farmer who has used the technology on his Virginia poultry farm.As the number of poultry operations in the U.S. increases, so do the attendant problems. Today, there are more than 110,000 broiler houses in the country, with that number expected to exceed 131,000 by 2024, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) growth projections of the industry. More than 32 billion pounds of poultry litter were generated in 2015. That number is expected to grow to more than 37 billion pounds per year by 2024, which will exacerbate the soil nutrient overload that contributes to runoff pollution into US waterways.In addition, poultry farms require a great deal of propane to heat broiler houses, with the average broiler house using about 6,000 gallons of propane each year. In 2015, more than 8.5 million tons of CO2 were emitted from burning propane to heat broiler houses, and that number is projected to grow to almost 10 million tons by 2024, according to the USDA. Global Re-Fuel's technology eliminates nearly 100 percent of propane usage, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 70,000 lbs/yr/house."The Global Re-Fuel PLF-500 increases farmers' operating margins, decreases pollution, eliminates propane usage – which reduces CO2 emissions – and improves poultry living conditions," says Rocky Irvin, a founding member of Global Re-Fuel and a poultry grower for more than 10 years. "It's good for the family farm and the environment."
July 17, 2017, Arlington, WI - Just over one month remains before the 2017 North American Manure Expo, being held August 22 and 23 near Arlington, Wisconsin. Two action-packed days are planned, including tours, education sessions plus solid, liquid and agitation demos. More information is available at manureexpo.org. Check out these highlights from previous expos and learn more about what you can't afford to miss.
July 17, 2017, Madison, WI – Dane County is teaming up with local organizations, businesses and farmers to continue phosphorus reduction efforts in the Yahara Watershed, County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently. The new public, private partnership will allow farmers to more effectively apply manure by injecting it directly into the ground, reducing the amount of nutrients that run off into local waterways. “By using this equipment, farmers will be able to cut down on soil erosion, reduce odors, and decrease the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields,” said Parisi. “Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy, while providing farmers with the innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way.” In the agreement, Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from Carl F. Statz and Sons Inc., a farm implement dealer based in Waunakee, to haul the tanker and LDMI bar across each participant’s property. Yahara WINS is led by the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District and will use funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance to finance its share of the endeavor. “Yahara WINS is pleased to partner with the Yahara Pride Farm Group, Dane County and the Clean Lakes Alliance to provide opportunities for farmers to gain experience with low disturbance manure injection –an approach that will improve water quality by reducing the amount of phosphorus reaching our streams, rivers and lakes,” said Dave Taylor, consulting director for Yahara WINS. Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led, nonprofit organization and was the first to bring this minimal soil disturbance technology for manure to Wisconsin farmers. To date, the program has covered over 3,600 acres of land and reduced 5,500 pounds of phosphorus on the Yahara Watershed using this manure technique. In 2016 alone, Yahara Pride Farms’ low disturbance manure injection resulted in an estimated 1,100 pounds of phosphorus savings from more than 1,200 acres of land. “Farmers are leading progress toward collective water quality goals in the Yahara Watershed,” said Jeff Endres, chairman of Yahara Pride Farms. “Managing how nutrient-rich manure is applied to farm fields is a key component to achieving these goals.” Last year, Dane County implemented and tracked more than 313 conservation practices and systems, resulting in 18,392 pounds of phosphorus being reduced in the Yahara Watershed. Under this new partnership, the manure injector is projected to reduce 1.5 pounds of phosphorus per acre of land each year. Participants of the program will be charged a fee to cover operator costs, tractor rental, repair and maintenance, scheduling and insurance. To reduce participant expenses, Dane County developed a cost share program for individual farmers and custom haulers to purchase the LDMI toolbar. Currently, two cost share agreements totaling $46,495.50 have been approved to purchase the toolbar equipment. The Yahara WINS executive committee approved the grant request to fund 50 percent of the costs for a tanker and LDMI toolbar with funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance in June. The Dane County board of supervisors is currently reviewing a resolution committing up to $60,000 in county dollars to match the committee’s funds. Yahara Pride Farms will provide an annual report to the Dane County Land Conservation Division and Yahara WINS detailing treated field locations, number of acres covered, and pounds of phosphorus reduced. Previously, Yahara Pride Farms partnered with a local equipment dealer to provide a tanker and LDMI toolbar for individual farmers to use and gain experience with the technology.
June 23, 2017, Arlington, WI – Time to clear the calendar and scrub off the rubber boots. The North American Manure Expo is coming.The 2017 edition of the annual show celebrating all things manure–related is being held August 22 and 23, 2017, at the University of Wisconsin's Arlington Agricultural Research Station, located about 20 miles north of Madison near Arlington, WI."Wisconsin is very excited to be able to host the 2017 North American Manure Expo," said 2017 expo chairs George Koepp and Richard Halopka. "The theme for this expo is 'Innovation, Research, and Solutions' and it is driving our focus to showcase how manure application professionals, researchers, and industry are all working together to apply manure nutrients to our fields and crops in environmentally safe, efficient, and financially productive ways."Two action-packed days have been planned for the expo. On August 22, attendees can choose from one of three tours featuring visits to a local dairy-based anaerobic digester, examples of swine and dairy manure processing, plus composting and low disturbance manure application. Pit agitation demos will also be held at the research center in the afternoon. The trade show will open at noon and industry sessions, including Puck's Pump School, will be held later in the evening.On August 23, the grounds will open at 7:30 a.m. and feature a full day of educational sessions covering everything from atmospheric emissions to soil health. Manure application demonstrations, including solid and liquid manure spreaders, compost turners, plus a manure spill recovery, are also planned."This is a great opportunity for farmers, manure applicators, equipment manufacturers, and researchers to gather, share information, and develop even more environmentally friendly and effective ways to apply manure nutrients to our cropland," added Koepp and Halopka.In preparation for the upcoming expo, planning officials are updating the event's collectible T-shirt, a favorite among attendees. The top 50 slogans received – as decided by expo planners – will be voted on by the public (VOTE NOW!) with the top 10 going on the back of the 2017 Manure Expo T-shirt.Anyone who submits a slogan that makes the T-shirt will receive a free shirt.The 2017 North American Manure Expo is being hosted by the University of Wisconsin, UW-Extension, and the Professional Nutrient Applicators' Association of Wisconsin, which also owns the event. Annex Business Media, publisher of Manure Manager magazine, serves as the show manager.Registration is free and available online at agannex.com/manure-manager/manure-expo.
July 6, 2017, New York - If you buy a house on the 9 million acres of agricultural districts in New York state, you sign a disclosure form that says the farmers near you have the "right to farm" even when it causes noise, dust and odors.Still, when a farmer decides to build a lagoon to store millions of gallons of liquid manure, the neighbors are often disappointed to find out they have little say in the matter. They can also be shocked to hear that government sometimes requires manure storage and even helps pay for it.Since 1994, 461 manure storages have been built with state financial help, according to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. Others are privately or federally funded.The "Right to Farm" is a state law that protects 25,316 farms on 6.5 million of those 9-million acres of agricultural districts. The rest of that land is occupied by people who do not farm.Mike McMahon, of McMahon's EZ Acres in Homer, allowed us to fly a drone over the lagoon on his dairy farm and explained how it was designed.McMahon, other farmers and government officials say storage is the best practice to protect the environment from runoff.Storage allows farmers to spread manure on fields on only the best days - when the soil is dry and less likely to run off of wet and frozen ground into lakes and streams. READ MORE
July 5, 2017, Greenville, OH - With corn needing nitrogen, and pigs and cattle producing a lot of it, anything that offers a better way to use their waste to fortify crops should intrigue farmers.Two agriculture experts at The Ohio State University have redesigned a metal tractor attachment so that it allows farmers to put manure on a field while crops are emerging.Applying manure to growing crops, which is not widely done in Ohio or nationwide, can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses, and give livestock producers and commercial manure applicators another window of time to unload their waste and enrich their crops.Made by Bambauer Equipment in New Knoxville, Ohio, the metal toolbar, which is attached to a tractor, receives waste pumped through a hose from a livestock facility manure pit. The manure is fed through the toolbar, which injects the manure 3 to 5 inches into the soil between the rows of growing corn, then covers the manure with soil.The manure sidedress toolbar attachment was built with contributions from the Columbus Foundation, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Goodfield, Illinois-based DSI Inc., a manufacturer of manure and nitrogen injection systems.While draglining manure, a process that involves applying manure through a hose that pumps it directly from the livestock facility, is not new to many Ohio farmers, it is rarely used to apply manure on a growing crop."During the growing season, farmers have been concerned that running machinery over a field with an emerging crop could crush the crop and compact the soil, leaving less space among the soil particles for easy flow of water, air and nutrients," said Glen Arnold, a manure management specialist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the university's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Arnold designed the modified toolbar with Sam Custer, an OSU Extension educator in Darke County.Traditionally the manure of pigs and cattle, which is primarily liquid, is applied on the surface of fields in fall, after harvest. But without a growing crop on the field to take in the nutrients, much of the nitrogen either runs off the field or percolates through the soil uncaptured, Arnold said."A growing crop will reach out and grab much of that nitrogen," Arnold said. "It will love it."In recent years, there has been increased interest in applying livestock manure on newly planted corn and soybean fields to foster their growth and provide another chance for farmers with pigs or cattle to use their accumulating animal waste.For the past five years, Arnold has conducted research on methods of doing that. Initially, he used a tanker filled with liquid manure that was applied to young corn fields in several western Ohio counties. But the dragline and manure sidedress toolbar, compared to a tanker, weigh less and are faster and more efficient, Arnold pointed out. Also, the dragline and toolbar cause very few plants to be crushed to death.For three years, the manure sidedress toolbar has been tested on fields in Darke County, which annually produces the second highest number of hogs across the state – and a whole lot of manure. The manure sidedressed fields produced 13 more bushels of corn per acre compared to fields where synthetic fertilizers were applied, Arnold said.The savings in using manure instead of synthetic fertilizer are about $80 an acre, he said."There's always a cost to the livestock farmer to apply manure to farm fields. By capturing more of the nitrogen in the manure, the farmer can reduce the need to purchase commercial fertilizer and make a bigger profit," he said.While the manure sidedress toolbar can also be used on fields of soybeans and wheat, corn needs the most nitrogen, Arnold said.Some Ohio farmers are concerned that the dragline could kill some of the newly emerging plants, by crushing them as it is pulled through the field, Custer said.But the research on the Darke County fields does not show that, Custer said. When corn is about 3 inches high, running a dragline hose across a field is not going to hurt the corn though it may initially appear to be bent over after the dragline goes across the field, Custer said."In a week's time, they'll be standing right back up," he said.Ohio farmers interested in trying the manure sidedress toolbar can do so for free to see how it might work on their fields."We want to put it in more farmers' hands," Custer said. "We want to see more farmers using manure as a nutrient rather than seeing it as a waste product."Anyone who wants to try the manure sidedress toolbar can contact Arnold at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 419-235-4724. Darke County farmers can contact Sam Custer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 937-548-5215.For more information about the manure sidedress toolbar and to watch a video on it, see go.osu.edu/manureapplicator.

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