The Porter Family farm, located in Cabarrus County, N.C., is the definition of diverse. Four generations of Porters raise chickens, hogs, cattle, and run a profitable agritourism business.
April 11, 2017, Charles City, IA — A revised resolution aimed at protecting the health of workers at large animal confinement operations was discussed by the Floyd County Board of Supervisors recently, and its sponsor hopes changes will result in more support this time. Supervisor Mark Kuhn introduced a resolution at the board meeting the end of February to set worker health safety requirements for applicants seeking to get a state construction permit for a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). READ MORE
April 11, 2017, Raleigh, NC – North Carolina lawmakers are taking steps to protect the world's largest pork producer from lawsuits accusing its subsidiaries of creating unbearable animal waste odor. The 2014 lawsuits by about 500 rural neighbors of massive hog farms allege that clouds of flies and intense smells remain a problem nearly a quarter-century since industrial-scale hog farming took off. READ MORE
April 10, 2017, Windsor Heights, IA – Plans to enable farmers and consultants to submit manure management plan updates electronically will lead off the April 18 meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at DNR’s Air Quality Bureau, 7900 Hickman Road in Windsor Heights, IA. READ MORE
April 3, 2017, Chicago, IL — Four new measures proposed in the Illinois legislature would tighten the state’s environmental protections on hog confinements and give local citizens more input in the permitting process as well as standing to challenge the massive facilities in court. The legislation, announced March 28, was proposed in response to an August investigation by the Chicago Tribune. The bills would represent the first significant reforms to the state’s 1996 Livestock Management Facilities Act, which has been criticized for failing to keep up with the dramatic growth of swine confinements. READ MORE
July 21, 2017, Washington - The Washington State Department of Agriculture has ended its investigation into the release of fecal coliform-laced water that flooded a Yakima County community last winter, recommending that a dairy block off a manure compost pile or move it to higher ground.Snipes Mountain Dairy was not fined or ordered to take action, but WSDA will inspect the farm in the fall, department spokesman Hector Castro said.If the dairy doesn't respond to WSDA's concerns, the department could refer the case to the Department of Ecology, which also has jurisdiction over the dairy.The dairy also could face more severe penalties by WSDA if it discharges polluted water again. "It certainly would be a factor," Castro said.WSDA's notice to Snipes dairy stems from a March 1 flood that actually began on another farm.Melting snow breached a berm around a field and flowed onto Snipes dairy. The floodwater wasn't polluted until it washed into the pile of manure, according to WSDA's investigation. The contaminated water eventually surrounded several homes a half mile away in Outlook. READ MORE
July 20, 2017 - Take a tour of the McCormick Farms Reclamation System. This video demonstates how the McCormick Farm is able to clean barns and recycle the sands and separate the solids from the liquids in order to recycle all the bedding. McCormick Farms values sustainable development, thus have an automated system integrated directly in the farm to keep the cows clean and reuse and recycle wastes. Cows currently are all bedded with sand, so it is very important for the cows well-being that their bedding is kept dry. For more information, watch the video above!
July 18, 2017, Freedom, WI - A manure spill at a 950-cow dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin ran into a local creek that feeds into the Fox River.The spill was reported on Monday and a temporary clay dam has been installed to contain the runoff.An agricultural runoff specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it's not known how much manure entered Dutchman's Creek located outside of Freedom, southwest of Green Bay.Ben Uvaas said the dairy farm responsible reported at least 20,000 gallons of manure were released from a holding pit."The farm estimates 20,000 gallons was lost from the pit," Uvaas said. "So out of that a fraction, a percentage would have gotten to Dutchman's Creek. That's probably the best estimate we're ever going to have for this."Uvaas said the farm worked quickly to contain the spill by having a contractor build a clay berm."It's fairly water tight. Those are built up perpendicular to the flow in the creek kind of like a 'mini dam,'" Uvaas said. "And as that water fills up behind the berm, it becomes deep enough where equipment like a septic truck or vacuum truck can reach in there with a hose and collect that water."Uvaas doesn't have authorization to issue fines for spills, but violations can be referred to the state Department of Justice.
June 22, Wiota, WI — As farms have gotten larger and the equipment and storage facilities necessary to accommodate that growth have gotten bigger with them, the risk of injury and death on those farms has also increased.About 75 emergency response personnel and farmers gathered June 12 at Cottonwood Dairy Farm just outside Wiota for a training session designed to help them understand the hazards of manure storage and handling systems. The workshop focused primarily on confined space and manure as safety procedures.Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Madison/Extension agriculture safety specialist, and Jeff Nelson, UW-Madison machinery specialist and volunteer firefighter, took participants to various spots on the farm to see the farm's manure pits and associated equipment during the training session. They talked about equipment that is safe to use in confined spaces, such as gas monitors and ventilation equipment, and fall protection devices. READ MORE
June 13, 2017, Idaho - Agricultural production in the western U.S. is an important part of the global food supply. However, due to concerns over impacts from agricultural greenhouse gasses on the global climate, there is a need to understand the effect of nitrogen source on emissions from cropping systems in semiarid environments.In a paper recently published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers report nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) emissions from a dairy forage rotation (silage corn-barley-alfalfa) in south-central Idaho that received various nitrogen sources, including granular urea, an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer (SuperU), dairy manure, or composted dairy manure. READ MORE
June 5, 2017, PA - Pennsylvania is offering a limited number of $1,000 grants to dairy farmers to help pay for the cost of developing plans to meet baseline agricultural compliance.The grants can be used to offset some of the costs of preparing Nutrient Management, Manure Management and Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control Plans. Time is of the essence, however, because grant money must be spent by June 30.Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), those with 1,000 or more animal units, already must have Nutrient Management Plans in order to operate. But all Pennsylvania livestock farms, regardless of size, must have Manure Management and Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control plans. In fact, the requirement for a Manure Management Plan has been on the books since 1972.Having basic manure management plans in place has been an expectation for decades. However, inspections are now occurring in Pennsylvania. READ MORE
July 17, 2017, Ames, IA – You might wonder what dry weather and feedlot runoff would have in common. On the one hand, the recent spell of hot, dry summer weather has caused expanding areas of moderate drought and excessively dry soils in Iowa and Nebraska. But this spell of dry conditions also makes for an excellent time to maintain your feedlot runoff control system. Extended dry periods create the perfect opportunity to remove settled solids from your settling basin or other areas where manure solids collect during runoff events. Whether it’s a settling basin, a settling bench or terrace, or even the bottom end of feedlot pens, now is a great time to get out there with the loader, box scraper, or other equipment to remove those accumulated solids and dress up the area for the runoff that is sure to return. Land apply those solids if you have application areas available now, or stockpile them in a controlled area if they need to wait until after harvest for application. Make sure the stockpile area is either within the runoff control boundaries for your feedlot, or in an area that is protected from runoff and water flow when it rains. High and dry is the short description of a good stockpile location. While you’re removing separated solids, be sure to check the liquid outlet from the settling area. If you’re using a picket dam or perforated riser to control the outflow, make sure the openings are clean and in good condition. Remember, the purpose of the controlled outlet is to hold liquid in the settling area until solids can settle, and then slowly drain the settled effluent off to an area where it can soak into the ground. Too much opening can let liquids through before solids can settle. Plugged openings can prevent dewatering and drying of the solids to a consistency you can handle. While you’re tending to the settled solids removal, take the opportunity to evaluate the other parts of the system as well. Check the clean water diversion portions: rain gutters on buildings, clean water diversion terraces, and clean water tile drains. Then check your runoff controls beyond the settling area. If you pump your effluent to an application area, check the pump, controls and piping. If you let gravity do the work, follow the flow path down the hill from your settling area and see where it ends. If it ends on flat ground in a pasture, field, or treatment area, you’ll see a few more manure solids that settle and accumulate there, with no eroded gully beyond. If it ends in a waterway, ditch or stream, your manure could be causing negative impacts and putting your operation in regulatory and financial risk. Assessment tools and advice are available in print, online, and from experts who can help. Check out the resource links on the Small Feedlot & Dairy Operations website or contact your industry representatives or an Iowa State University Extension dairy, beef, or engineering field specialist. Kits are even available from selected County ISU Extension offices to help you test water quality. Managing manure runoff centers around more effectively collecting and storing manure, reducing the amount of clean water that mixes with manure, and capturing runoff so manure nutrients can be held and used as fertilizer. The good news is that each of these practices generates additional fertilizer value for your farm at the same time it lowers your risk exposure. So seize the opportunity to maintain your system and take some positive steps to put your manure where it pays.
June 20, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is seeking nominations for the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA). The ESA recognizes cattle producers whose natural resource stewardship practices contribute to the environment and enhance productivity and profitability. The ABP are asking producers to take this opportunity to share the unique environmental practices employed on their operation and to present the positive story about cattle producers' contribution to the environment. Nomination forms are available on the ABP website, from the ABP office or from any local delegate. All cattle producers are encouraged to either enter or nominate another producer who is taking strides towards sound environmental production practices. A team of judges made up of ABP delegates, the 2017 ESA winner and an industry associate will review the submissions and tour the nominated ranching operations. Each applicant will be scored on predetermined criteria unique to the practices they implement in their business. The winner will receive a commemorative gate sign, a video highlighting their ranching operation and an all-expenses paid trip from anywhere in Alberta to the 2017 ABP Annual General Meeting in Calgary, where the award will be presented at a formal banquet. The competition is open to all cattle producers. Deadline for nominations is July 15, 2017, and the winner will be announced December 2017. Contact the Alberta Beef Producers at 403-451-1183.
April 11, 2017, Dixon, IL — Taking safety precautions is vital for cattlemen working with barns that have pit manure storage. “There are many good reasons for using liquid manure systems,” said Ted Funk, professor emeritus of the University of Illinois. READ MORE
March 13, 2017 – Steve Eickert, of Andover, Iowa, is planning ahead to ensure safety for employees, pumping contractors and himself a few weeks from now when work gets underway to transfer and apply 1.2 million gallons of manure stored in the pit under his cattle confinement building. Eickert is among several livestock feeders and commercial applicators working together to improve safety and increase awareness of deadly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas released during manure handling. READ MORE
March 2, 2017 – Over the past three years, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry and the Intensive Livestock Working Group (an alliance of eight of Alberta livestock and poultry organizations) have been collaborating to build a simple, personalized farm management decision-support tool designed to help manage phosphorus run-off. The Alberta Phosphorus Management Tool, expected to be available in late spring, is a free, Excel-based tool for assessing phosphorus run-off risk. The tool will also provide producers with management solutions that include both a relative cost and environmental efficacy ranking. READ MORE
February 2, 2017 – Hydrogen sulfide gas is a serious issue both in and around barns with liquid manure storage. The decomposition of organic matter in manure results in the release of several gases: ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide among them. Most of the time these gases are emitted at low levels, but any time manure is being agitated or pumped, or the surface is disturbed, hydrogen sulfide can be rapidly released. READ MORE
Texan Jack Moreman, owner of Rolling Plains Ag Compost, is proof positive that those who teach can also do. In fact, he has parlayed his extensive feedlot and manure management knowledge into a highly successful organic fertilizer and soil amendment business.Moreman, a retired vocational agriculture teacher with an animal husbandry degree from Texas Tech University, began his career by managing a cattle feedlot. He then spent over 25 years teaching at Texas Christian University and Clarendon Community College, where he developed and taught a two-year program in ranch and feedlot management.Six years ago, this 81-year-old launched a successful turnkey manure composting and organic fertilizer application business headquartered in Clarendon, Texas, that has since doubled in size with 15 employees. Clarendon is about 65 miles southeast of Amarillo. The company’s motto is, “Giving nature a hand and conserving the land.”“I feel very strongly about conserving our resources,” says Moreman. “I think composting is one of the better things that we do, and the area that we are in, you could have three different soil types in one field, from sandy loam, to dark clay, to caliche. Compost improves the soil structure and the ability for the carbon molecules to hold the nutrients in place till the plant can get hold of it.”A group of eight feedlot owners, who together raise about 200,000 head of cattle, annually supply Moreman with the manure he needs to make compost. The company uses its compost turning equipment on land dedicated by each feedlot to convert over 720,000 tons of raw feedlot manure annually into about 300,000 tons of compost. It then sells the compost to farmers as organic fertilizer and a soil amendment, providing the equipment and personnel to land apply it for them.Rolling Plains Ag Compost makes its money from the sale and application of the compost, with a percentage of that income paid to the feedlot owners for supplying the raw manure.Moreman says that there are two main reasons why the feedlots are eager to work with Rolling Plains Ag Compost. Firstly, when the feedlot cleans its pens and stockpiles the manure, it typically is compacted in large chunks, which makes it very difficult to land apply. Its nutrient content is also highly variable in this form and it often is full of weed seeds. Because the raw manure is in larger chunks, it usually takes a couple of years to break down in the field, which is why farmers tend to not see any value from it until the second year after application. However, by providing the raw manure to a composter, the large chunks are broken down, it is easier to land apply, and the nutrients are available immediately upon incorporation. Also, farmers who have applied raw manure on their fields have found that this material tends to have unwanted debris like pipes and cables mixed in with it.Secondly, working with a composter like Rolling Plains Ag Compost, reduces the feedlots’ potential liability concerning land applying of raw manure. Moreman says based on feedback from his feedlot suppliers, the decision to compost the manure rather than land apply it has made a big difference when it comes to dealing with organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).“Our feedlot operators tell us that if an inspector from the EPA or Texas Water Quality Board comes by and they see that they are composting that manure and hauling it out, the inspectors don’t ever bother them because that’s what they want to see done with it,” says Moreman. “But if the inspectors go in there and they have a huge pile that’s so big that it interferes with TV reception, then they get concerned.”The composting processes gets rid of many of the pathogens and weed seeds in raw manure, and reduces the volume. Moreman says that it reduces the manure volume by as much as 5-to-1. So there is a lot less material to land apply and it tends to have more consistent nutrient content.Because the feedlots feed their cattle concentrated rations, there is little, if any, roughage like hay or bedding material like straw mixed in with the manure, which actually makes it more valuable as a raw material for making compost because there is little to no filler.“Dairy manure is probably worth about half as much as cattle feedlot manure because a dairy operation will typically feed a lot of hay and silage to their cattle,” says Moreman. “These beef cattle are on a high grain ration and they are not subjected to a lot of roughage, because these feedlot owners want their cattle to eat a lot of grain and convert that to beef. That’s kind of the name of the game.”Moreman’s business operates year round. Employees are either creating the windrows, turning the windrows, or land applying the compost for farm customers.“We are either putting compost on cotton, peanuts, corn, wheat or irrigated pasture,” says Jack. “There is a crop coming off at all times, so they need compost pretty much all the time.”While there is year-round demand, there are times of greater and lesser demand. May to July tends to be the slowest time of year, after spring crops are planted.An important selling point to marketing the compost to farm customers is its ability to improve the water holding capacity of the soils where it is applied. Water is a valuable commodity to farmers in that part of Texas. Adding compost to dense soils increases their aeration and drainage capacity, and increases the water holding capacity of sandy soils. Most of Rolling Plains Ag Compost’s customers participate in a program where they land-apply compost on each parcel of land on a two-to-three year rotation.The company has worked hard to build its farm customer base, and Moreman’s background as an educator has helped. He spends considerable time hosting seminars and speaking to individual farmers about the benefits of using compost. His effort has paid off.“You can be assured of one thing that if they try it, we are going to make a sale next time around,” says Moreman.While compost has significant nutrient value, it does not necessarily fulfil all the farmer’s nutrient needs but represents only part of the overall puzzle. The company’s customers understand that. Most will need to add some commercial fertilizer, depending on the crop they are growing. View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.manuremanager.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=11&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria6c70c1183b Typically, a feedlot will stockpile its raw manure as it cleans its pens and then Rolling Plains Ag Compost will bring in their own loaders and trucks to transport the manure to a drainage-controlled parcel of land that the feedlot has designated as its composting area. This can measure anywhere from 20 to 40 acres. The company will create a compost windrow that measures approximately six-feet tall by up to 16-feet wide. The windrow will be as long as required by the amount of raw manure being converted. In the past, they have measured anywhere from a quarter-mile to a mile long.The composting process consists of windrow turning, temperature measurement and moisture measure to ensure that the microorganisms responsible for the biological conversion process within the windrows are doing their job. Part of the reason for the turning process is to ensure that the windrows are well oxygenated to support the microorganisms. As the conversion process takes place, the windrows can heat up to as much as 160 degrees Fahrenheit.To turn the windrows, Rolling Plains Ag Compost uses a CT718 compost turner by Wildcat, which is a Vermeer company. With a 44-inch diameter drum to turn, mix and aerate the material, it can process up to 5,000 tons of manure per hour. The turning takes place typically once a week. After about six weeks, the raw manure has been converted to compost and it is ready for land application. Moreman says the compost turner is a large and powerful piece of equipment with a 500 hp Caterpillar engine. He adds that it is sturdy enough to break down the chunks in the manure pile.Rolling Plains Ag Compost has its own fleet of semi-trailer trucks to deliver the compost to farm customers. At all stages of the pen cleaning, composting, and land application process, the company depends on a large fleet of John Deere loaders to move the material as needed. Once the compost is delivered to the farm, the compost is temporarily stockpiled beside the field and then loaded into New Leader spreaders to land apply the compost. Rolling Plains Ag Compost owns four of them. New Leader is a type of nutrient applicator manufactured by Highway Equipment Company (HECO) located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the Rolling Plains Ag Compost operation, the applicators are mounted on either Chevrolet or International trucks.Moreman says that these New Leader nutrient applicators are large and purpose-built. The box consists of a stainless steel bed with a conveyor on the bottom. The conveyor propels the compost to the back of the box, where spinners broadcast the material onto the land. The company will deploy as many nutrient applicators as needed for each job, but when all four are working, their customers are amazed at how quickly the job gets done.“They are also very accurate,” says Jack. “There is a GPS unit on them to ensure that you don’t leave any part of the field out, and if you do, it will tell you.”In terms of application amounts, Rolling Plains Ag Compost recommends four tons per acre on irrigated land and two-to-three tons on dry land. Once the farmer has some experience using the compost, they usually make adjustments on future applications based on the responses that they have experienced.
April 27, 2017, West Palm Beach, FL – A firm hoping to operate a horse manure recycling facility between Wellington and Belle Glade withdrew its application April 26, killing, at least temporarily, a solution Palm Beach County thought it had found to the problem of how to dispose of waste from its bustling equestrian industry. After initially and enthusiastically backing a request for the facility, commissioners reversed themselves when farmers complained that the location of the facility in their midst would keep them from selling their fruits and vegetables. READ MORE
February 6, 2017, Champaign, IL — Illinois Manure Share, created by the University of Illinois, is a manure exchange program that brings gardeners and landscapers searching for organic materials for use in composting or application in contact with livestock owners. The program, initially intended to help commercial farmers find markets for their manure, has evolved over time. Today, most of the manure providers are horse farms and many of the buyers are from the Chicago area. READ MORE
November 9, 2016 – Nutrient management encompasses the entire life cycle of the animal. The tendency is to think about the cycle as crops to feed to product — milk or meat — to manure and back to crops. However, animal mortality is another step that falls within the nutrient management cycle. READ MORE
October 5, 2016, Toyota City, Japan – Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and contact lens manufacturer Menicon Co., Ltd. (Menicon) have jointly developed a new liquid livestock manure composting product that will join the resQ45 series of TMC-Menicon jointly developed manure composting systems. The product, called the New-Tokubetsu-Kyuko Liquid (new special express liquid enzyme), will be sold by Toyota Roof Garden Co., Ltd. It will be distributed through Toyota Tsusho Corporation's (Toyota Tsucho) livestock feed sales channels. In Japan, where around 80 million tons of livestock manure are generated annually, concerns about the adverse impact of manure on the environment, including its offensive odor, water pollution, and greenhouse-gas generation, have created widespread awareness for the need to find ways to properly process, and to effectively utilize manure. In January 2013, Toyota and Menicon launched a jointly developed powder livestock manure composting product called the New-Tokubetsu-Kyuko, which had significantly shortened the composting period from around one month to around two weeks, while substantially reducing the generation of malodorous ammonia gas by between 50 and 90 percent (in the case of poultry waste). However, since the dispersion of powder composting agents is both a time- and labor-intensive process for large farms with major composting requirements, TMC and Menicon recognized the need to develop a liquid product that can be dispersed more easily by existing liquid dispensers. Using these liquid dispensers, the newly developed New-Tokubetsu-Kyuko Liquid can be dispersed in a manner that is more reliable and uniform as compared to powder. This helps to improve dispersion efficiency and helps to facilitate the creation of better quality compost. As a result, TMC and Menicon believe this new product will help to reduce onerous work on livestock farms, while also providing positive environmental benefits at the same time. Furthermore, since a 100 grams bottle of the new liquid product is able to substitute for an 8 kg bag of powder, this development also helps to significantly reduce the space needed for storage. June 2016 marked the tenth anniversary of the launch of the resQ45 series of manure composting systems, which were developed to help improve the livestock manure composting process. In addition to New-Tokubetsu-Kyuko Liquid, other main products in this series include the Buta resQ for pig manure and the Moo resQ for cows. Total sales of the resQ45 product lineup reached 200,000 bags in April, and annual sales are forecasted to hit 50,000 bags this year.
An overhead view of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada facility where researchers are studying composting and stockpiling manure. Photo by Contributed photo In North America, antibiotics are routinely administered to livestock for treating cases of disease and in some jurisdictions, they are given at sub-therapeutic levels to prevent disease, improve feed efficiency and promote growth. Manure can contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and it’s well known that some manure management practices destroy these bacteria, but does one stand out? Does stockpiling do a better job than composting, and are there other factors that should be considered in your decision to use one method over the other? Tim McAllister can provide insight. McAllister is a principal research scientist in ruminant microbiology and nutrition at the Lethbridge Research Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Recent studies he’s led on these issues were supported by AAFC’s Sustainable Agriculture Environmental Systems initiative and the Beef Cattle Research Council’s ‘Beef Cluster Funding.’ McAllister’s team included Shanwei Xu, Alanna Smith, Shaun Cook, Andrew F. Olson, Francis J. Larney and Rahat Zaheer (all at AAFC Lethbridge), Srinivas Sura and Allan J. Cessna (AAFC Saskatoon) and George Wang (University of Lethbridge). Cessna and Larney were lead scientists. Among other contributions, Xu drafted the manuscript and oversaw the lab analysis, Sura participated in study design, Zaheer helped track antibiotic resistance genes; Wang, Smith and Cook all provided laboratory analysis and Olson led the field studies. But before we get to their results on stockpiling versus composting, let’s go over some facts you should know about antibiotic-resistant bacteria. “It’s found in all soil,” McAllister explains. “Antibiotic resistance has always existed. Antibiotics are produced by many bacteria to protect themselves from other bacteria, and those bacteria need to be resistant to their own antibiotics or they will harm themselves. The populations they are defending themselves against also become resistant over time. These bacteria are found in the soil, inside animals such as cattle and in many other environments.” So, whether or not antibiotics are added to an animal’s diet, antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be found in that animal’s digestive tract and in its manure. Resistance is a fact, and it’s only a matter of when it develops, in which bacteria and under what circumstances. McAllister understands that while “it’s still a common perception that the prevalence and magnitude of antimicrobial resistance in our environment is related to feeding antimicrobials to beef cattle, we’ve actually found that in several cases, manure from cattle that were not administered antimicrobials contained higher numbers of resistance genes than manure from animals fed antimicrobials.” The good news is that it’s not likely that antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the soil, either naturally occurring or placed there through the spread of manure, pose a significant risk to human health. For that, McAllister says they would have to exchange DNA with other bacteria that could cause human infections, and that would be difficult since most human pathogens don’t survive outside the human environment, or survive for long. “So there would have to be pathogens present, DNA exchange and then humans would have to be directly exposed to the altered pathogens,” he says. “That’s not terribly likely.” Composting manure involves turning long piles (windrows) at least three times over the composting period with the objective of the temperature uniformly staying at, or higher than, 131 Fahrenheit (55 Celsius) for as long a period as possible (at least 15 days desirable). Turning of compost also breaks up aggregates, increases porosity, redistributes moisture and promotes the microbial decomposition of organic matter. Stockpiling has been described as ‘passive composting,’ with manure being placed in large pyramidal piles on the ground or on a concrete pad. Stockpiled manure is not mechanically turned or mixed, leading to regions of anaerobic decomposition. Stockpiling cannot achieve the high temperatures associated with composting and results in a shorter period of internal pile heating. McAllister’s team found that in terms of their ability to kill off pathogens and degrade antibiotic resistant genes, composting provides better results. McAllister believes farmers should definitely do one or the other. “Stockpiling…doesn’t require any equipment other than a loader, which every farmer already has,” he notes. “So stockpiling is a no-brainer for manure management. Letting manure sit at least a month should be standard practice. It also has the economic advantage of lowering the volume of manure that needs to be delivered to the field.” Composting has more costs, he says, but can be worthwhile. “There are investments needed in capital equipment costs, and in ongoing time and labour, but if you have a market nearby, a big city where you can sell composted manure for a good price, you can potentially make an ongoing profit.” [See sidebar for more] Composting or stockpiling aside, another matter of individual choice is deciding whether to spread your manure on your fields. Spreading it certainly won’t add to the prevalence of antibiotic resistance that is already found in the soil, but McAllister says it doesn’t always make sense financially. “You are adding organic matter when you spread your manure, but manure is high in phosphorus, so likely you will have to add N anyway in a separate spreading to balance out the N-P ratio,” he explains. “So, sometimes it’s easier for farmers to just use chemical fertilizer instead of manure. It’s each producer’s decision.” And if you are wondering about what’s occurring with antibiotics added to animal feed that could impact human health, McAllister can also provide an update on that. “Some antibiotics are already considered not safe to include in feed and regulations are in place and followed to prevent this practice, but we need more studies on the antibiotics that are presently approved,” he says. “It’s not in the best interest of animals to take away those antibiotics that help them get better from an infection or protect their health. The important thing to remember – and we haven’t published too much about this – is that we’re finding that the populations of bacteria that live in the environment are different than those that live in an animal. And there are certainly many manure management and food safety practices that we can use to reduce risk to human health, and many [of these practices] are already part of best management practices.” Markets for composted manureComposting on a large scale can be profitable for farmers but is a full-time job, says Van Doan, agri-resource engineer at Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. “Most beef farmers are farmers first…[they compost] for the volume reduction and odor reduction. Plus, if they land-apply the composted manure, they find it’s improving their soil tilth.” Overton Environmental Enterprises compost site manager Gerry Dubé agrees. The Winnipeg-based firm composts by-products from several large companies (such as a potato processor and the Winnipeg horse racing track) and sells it to the public, and also helps several farmers compost their own manure, from those who want to sell manure to those who want to use it on their fields to reduce or eliminate fertilizer and chemical use. “We are trying to convince farmers that composting and spreading composted manure creates a vibrant soil biology and also sequesters carbon,” says Dubé. “They need a better understanding of the whole process and they also need an incentive from the federal government to help them transition from using large amounts of fertilizer and herbicides to this more-environmentally friendly type of farming. The incentive would fit well with the desires of the federal government to reduce carbon going into the atmosphere.”
July 4, 2017, Somerset County, NJ - A giant facility being planned in Somerset County may convert tons of chicken litter into electricity some day, but first it may need to make converts out of skeptical neighbors and environmentalists.Its critics charge that the anaerobic digester, if built, would pollute the air with methane and nearby waterways with nutrients while giving further license to the region's poultry industry to continue its expansion. READ MORE
May 16, 2017, Lancaster, PA - Farmers have been referred to as the first environmentalists. Their livestock and crops depend on a healthy environment to thrive. Still, there’s often room for improvement. According to some early findings from a study by Penn State graduate student Erica Rogers, poultry producers are potentially lowering their impact on the Chesapeake Bay. Rogers and fellow Penn State graduate student Amy Barkley discussed those initial findings from their two master’s thesis projects with the poultry service technicians attending Monday’s Penn State Poultry Health and Management Seminar at the Lancaster Farm and Home Center. Her project’s goal is to accurately depict poultry’s contribution to the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load. The Chesapeake Bay “is one of the most studied watersheds in the world,” she said, but the problem with the current model is “they are using outdated information for poultry.” Rogers built her work around the concept that poultry litter management has changed and farmers have adopted more precise diets for their flocks. READ MORE
March 13, 2017, Owasco, NY – A farm that placed poultry manure on the edge of a field has removed it, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The operation was issued a notice of violation by the DEC on Feb. 24 for violating its comprehensive nutrient management plan. The DEC did not issue any fines. READ MORE
March 13, 2017, Raleigh, NC – In a surprising conclusion, a new report finds North Carolina poultry farms generate far more nutrients in manure than do hog farms. The report, produced by the state Department of Environmental Quality, concludes poultry growers produced 56.6 million pounds of nitrogen and 79.8 million pounds of phosphorus in 2014. That amount is three times the nitrogen and six times the phosphorus produced statewide by swine operations in the same year, the DEQ estimates. READ MORE
March 8, 2017, Ionia County, MI — Five fire departments responded to reports of a fire at Herbruck's Poultry Ranch in a manure storage building March 7. Luckily it was nothing more than a hot spot in the dehydrated chicken manure pellets stored there, which led to a smoking wall, said Harry Herbruck, vice-president of operations at the facility. READ MORE
In Europe, where intensive livestock production is common in countries like the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, concern has been raised about its environmental consequences, including runoff of excessively applied nitrate and phosphate contamination of surface water and soil. Manure produced by intensive livestock production can lead to atmospheric emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide, and mono-nitrogen oxides, like NO and NO2, especially when directly spread on cropland. In the 1990s, EU council, parliament and commission met to discuss possible solutions. Those discussions led to the implementation of new, more stringent regulations, including the nitrates directive – better known as 91/676/EEC – which limits application rates of livestock manure to arable land. These restrictions led farmers to look for alternatives, such as composting and biogas production. In the Netherlands, where agricultural production is especially intensive, the issue prompted poultry farmers into action. Together, they came up with a unique solution – convert poultry manure into electricity. “We were producing too much manure in comparison to the arable land we had,” explained Wil van der Heijden MBA, director at Duurzame Energieproductie Pluimveehouderij (DEP), a co-operative of more than 600 Dutch poultry farmers who supply the Moerdijk-based power plant with poultry manure for fuel. “We also had a problem with too much phosphate in the soil and nitrogen in the water.” Van der Heijden is right; Dutch farmers do produce more manure than the arable land around them can use. The issue doesn’t just affect poultry farmers either. In fact, Dutch dairy farmers were recently told they have to reduce herd size in order to comply with EU phosphate regulations. Overproduction of manure has also been a problem for Dutch poultry farmers. Each year, poultry in the Netherlands produce approximately 1.3 million tonnes of litter. Of that, 650,000 tonnes is exported to Germany, Belgium and France for use as fertilizer – a job that is facilitated by traders who make money by taking manure out of the hands of farmers and putting it into the hands of other farmers. For decades, Dutch poultry farmers were at the mercy of these traders, who charged €30-35 ($33.34 to $38.90 US) per tonne for removal. For a 100,000-bird broiler farm, this amounted to €30,000 to €35,000 ($33,350 to $38,900 US) each year, a hefty fee that left many struggling. In 1998, Dutch poultry farmers met to discuss how they could separate themselves from the traders, as well as regulations and borders. Their solution was to join forces with a power plant and turn poultry manure into electricity. In 1999, the farmers formed DEP. The farmer members supply litter to BMC Moerdijk, a company that produces electricity using a fluidized bed combustor. “They wanted to be independent from traders, from the weather, from the borders, and the regulations in Germany and France,” said Van der Heijden. “They learned that poultry manure could be used as fuel for electricity production and they found that there was some experience in the U.K., although very small scale.” From conceptualization to the plant’s opening, it took 10 years for their plan to become a reality. First, explained DEP co-operative director Wil van der Heijden, they had to find the right location, which turned out to be Moerdijk, a town in the south of the Netherlands in the province of North Brabant. Then they had to apply for permissions and subsidies, look for partners and financing, and finally draw up fair contracts, which Van der Heijden said were crucial for reducing risk. Construction on BMC Moerdijk began in 2006 and concluded in 2008. Financing for the plant came from the bank, which fronted 80 percent of the overall cost. The rest came from BMC Moerdijk’s shareholders. Delta, the company that buys the electricity BMC produces, owns 50 percent of the shares. The farmers association ZLTO and DEP own the remaining shares at 33 and 17 percent respectively. While Dutch poultry farmers were once paying €30 to €35 ($33.34 to $38.90 US) per tonne to traders for removal, in 2008, when BMC started production, farmers who joined the co-operative were contracted at €20 ($22 US) per tonne. Immediately, the traders dropped their rate to match that of BMC’s, said Van der Heijden. “We told farmers that we could process their manure for 10 years for between €15 and €20 ($16.65 US to $22 US) [per tonne],” he said. “That’s why they signed the contract. But immediately after that, the traders dropped the price to €20 ($22 US) – and then even dropped to €10 ($11 US) two years later. You can imagine that all the members in 2012 were very angry.” Today, the farmers are happy. They now pay just €11.50 to €12 ($12.75 US to $13.30 US) per tonne. “We dropped the price in 2013,”explained Van der Heijden. “We had to drop the price from €20 to €11 ($22 US to $12.20 US) or €12 ($12.75 US) because they were so pissed off… because they all wanted to move. And if there is no fuel, there is no possibility to produce electricity. So, we had to join them.” Today, BMC processes some 430,000 tonnes of poultry manure – one-third of the total amount of poultry manure produced in the Netherlands – each year. Everyday, 60 trucks supply approximately 2,000 tonnes to the power plant. Using that manure, BMC generates 285,000 MWh of power each year. The plant uses a small amount of the electricity it produces and supplies approximately 245,000 MWh to the electrical grid. The electricity the company produces is enough to meet the needs of 80 percent of all Dutch poultry farmers for one year. BMC Moerdijk doesn’t just produce electricity, though. It also produces ash, which is a by-product of the incineration process. The ash contains highly valuable minerals, like potassium and phosphorus. It is sold to customers in the agricultural and horticultural sectors outside of the Netherlands. Those customers use the ash, sold under the name PeaKsoil, as a fertilizer to improve soil. In its first years of operation, BMC Moerdijk learned several important lessons. First, not all types of manure are suitable for processing. “We thought poultry manure is poultry manure, but it isn’t,” said Van der Heijden. “There are a lot of differences between manure from layer hens and broilers, and turkeys and breeders.” Storage was also an issue. Without storage the company sometimes had to work 15 days off and 15 days on. Today, BMC can store 10,000 to 12,000 tonnes. “It is very important to have stable supply and demand,” explained Van der Heijden. “We also learned that the cooperative structure was useful for this type of corporation. We also learned that fixed contracts are very crucial because otherwise halfway all of the members would have left the co-operative. The fixed contracts were very useful for us and the bank to reduce the risks.” Electricity from poultry manure is a cleaner alternative to direct land application, explained Gerd-Jan de Leeuw, MSc, at a recent visit to the plant. De Leeuw is responsible for the fuel and PeaKsoil at BMC Moerdijk. Electricity production from poultry manure saves on emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Spreading poultry manure on the land also causes larger emissions of NH3, N2O and NOx than combustion does. Finally, the ash that’s recovered has a lower mass and volume than the manure, making it more suitable for export to regions that require phosphate. “All of the minerals, except nitrogen and organic matter, are in the PeaKsoil, so in the ash,” said De Leeuw. “We can sell it as a fertilizer. We sell it to countries where they have a phosphate demand.” Those countries include Belgium, France and the United Kingdom where it has been especially useful in corn and wheat crops. All in all, BMC has proven itself as a sustainable and reliable electricity producer. Dutch poultry farmers, as a result of their cooperation with BMC, have not only complied with their obligation to process poultry manure, but also helped reduce the Dutch phosphorus surplus by approximately 8,000,000 kg P2O5 each year. The company also contributes to the Netherlands’ goal of lowering CO2 emissions and using 14 percent renewable energy by 2020. Finally, BMC has helped reduce poultry farmers’ NH3 emissions by 25 percent since 2008. This summer, BMC was in heavy discussion with DEP, as the 10-year contracts with its members are up at the end of 2017. The discussions were a great success with 87 percent of poultry farmer members renewing their contracts, which will start January 1, 2018. Those contracts expire at the end of 2029. On average, members will pay €6.50 ($7.20 US) per tonne, an amazing reduction since 2007.
June 26, 2017, Arlington, WI - The North American Manure Expo is returning to its home state – Wisconsin – this year. And the Arlington Agricultural Research Station will be the site of two-days of manure churning action August 22 and 23.Comprised of 14 parcels of land – 113 acres located in Dane County and 1,912 in Columbia County – purchased between 1955 and 1963, the 2,021-acre (818 hectares) Arlington complex is owned and operated by the University of Wisconsin. Located about 20 miles north of Madison, the station is used by almost all disciplines in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, including agronomy, beef cattle nutrition and grazing, dairy cattle research, entomology, bioenergy research, horticulture, plant pathology, sheep research, soil science, swine research and biological systems engineering. The property is composed of 1,700 acres (688 hectares) of cropland with 80 acres (32 hectares) certified organic. The university's Forest and Wildlife Ecology Department also maintains approximately 55 acres of trees for research.The mission of the Arlington Agricultural Research Station is to support research, education, and outreach programs of the university's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, leading to profitable and environmentally sound agricultural and resource management systems appropriate to Wisconsin. This fits perfectly with the North American Manure Expo's mandate – providing an opportunity for custom applicators and livestock producers to advance their knowledge of manure-nutrient utilization while showcasing the latest technology in manure handling, treatment and application, including side-by-side comparisons of equipment in the field.The theme for the 2017 manure expo is Innovation, Research and Solutions and both days provide numerous opportunities to learn about all three. 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 station 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 nutrient management software to manure handling safety. Manure application demonstrations, including solid and liquid manure spreaders, and compost turners, are also planned.To learn more, visit manureexpo.org. And, be sure to vote for the 2017 Crappiest T-shirt Slogan contest here!
June 7, 2017, Ada, OH – Manure is (and always has been) part of livestock production, but in recent years it has been increasingly viewed as an asset instead of a liability. Experts emphasize, however, that to get the full benefits and minimize the drawbacks of manure application for the benefit of all parties involved, planning and preparation are extremely important. “It has to be a sustainable operation for the applicator, the livestock producers and the crop producers,” said Eric Dresbach, president of W.D. Farms, LLC, during a presentation at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada this spring. “Everybody has to win and nobody can win big.” READ MORE
May 30, 2017, Casselton, ND - Flies are proliferative and persistent creatures. They can lay 50-150 eggs every few days, and within a two-week period a population of 350 to 1,000 flies is in your horse barn.No matter how many flies you swat or spray with a can, hundreds more drop from the rafters and buzz your ear and circle your head, waging an air raid on any living creature in the barn.Flies play dirty, too. Flies are dirty little creatures thriving on manure, rotting feed and wet straw. These little buggers will land in a pile of poo and then fly to your to-go cup of coffee and land right on the lid when you haven't even taken a drink yet.Environmental management of fly breeding sites is the most beneficial and effective way to manage flies.Couple environmental management with insecticides and fly predators, and you have a strategic plan of attack to stop the fly raid.It takes about 2 weeks for fly eggs to become adult flies. Adult flies like to lay eggs in manure, rotting feed and wet bedding. If we can get rid of manure in the barn at least twice a week, replace stall bedding weekly and keep things dry, our battle with the filth flies are half done.Pyrethrin-based premise sprays and animal sprays provide some temporary relief from the flies, providing days to weeks of fly-free zones.Adding parasitic wasps to the premise will also help reduce the fly population. The stingless wasps will kill the fly pupae that are hiding in manure piles, old feed or soiled bedding.The female wasps find the fly pupae, lay their own eggs in the fly pupae and when the wasp larvae hatch, they eat the fly pupae. Fortunately, the wasps won't sting animals or humans and are just interested in flies. READ MORE
Beef and dairy farmers obviously want to keep as much nitrogen as they can in the soil after they apply any type of manure to their fields, but there aren’t many recommendations out there about whether more N is retained through applying raw dairy manure or digestate (from anaerobic digesters).
April 20, 2017, Ithaca, NY – All living things – from bacteria and fungi to plants and animals – need phosphorus. But extra phosphorus in the wrong place can harm the environment. For example, when too much phosphorus enters a lake or stream, it can lead to excessive weed growth and algal blooms. Low-oxygen dead zones can form.Runoff from agricultural sites can be an important source of phosphorus pollution. To help evaluate and reduce this risk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) first proposed a phosphorus index concept in the early 1990s.Since then, science progressed and methods improved. In New York State, scientists and agency staff developed and released a phosphorus index in 2003. Now, a new project proposes a restructured index to build on phosphorus management efforts in that state and beyond."The idea is to account for the characteristics of a field, and help evaluate the risk of phosphorus runoff from that location," says Quirine Ketterings, lead author of the new study.The new index structure improves upon previous approaches. It focuses on the existing risk of phosphorus runoff from a field based on the location and how it is currently managed. Qualities like ground cover, erosion potential, and distance to a stream or water-body all come into play. The index also highlights best management practices to reduce this risk."The new index approach will direct farmers toward an increasingly safer series of practices," says Ketterings. "Higher-risk fields require more and safer practices to reduce and manage phosphorus runoff."Ketterings directs the nutrient management spear program at Cornell University. She and her colleagues used a combination of surveys, computer-generated examples, and old-fashioned number crunching. They used characteristics of thousands of farm fields to develop the new index. Involving farmers and farm advisors was also a key step."As stakeholders, farmers and farm advisors are more likely to make changes if they understand why," says Ketterings. "Plus, they have experience and knowledge that folks in academia and in governmental agencies often do not."This field experience can be vital. "Involving stakeholders in decision-making and getting their feedback makes the final product more workable," says Ketterings. "It may also prevent mistakes that limit implementation and effectiveness."Ketterings stresses that the previous index was not wrong."Farming is a business of continuous improvement and so is science," she says. "The initial index was based on the best scientific understanding available at that time. Our new index builds and improves upon the experience and scientific knowledge we have accumulated since the first index was implemented. It is likely this new index will be updated in the future as our knowledge evolves."The previous index approach could be somewhat time-consuming for planners, according to Ketterings. Further, it didn't always help identify the most effective practices for farmers. The new approach addresses both of these issues."We wanted the new index to be practical to use," she says. "The best index has no value if people cannot or will not implement it."In some circumstances of low or medium soil test phosphorus, the original New York state phosphorus index allowed farms to apply manure and fertilizer in what we now consider to be potentially high-risk settings."The new index approach proposes soil test phosphorus cutoffs and also encourages placing manure below the soil surface," says Ketterings. "These changes will bring improvements in phosphorus utilization and management across the farm."Ketterings also thinks that the new index is more intuitive."It allows for ranking of fields based on their inherent risk of phosphorus transport if manure was applied," she says. "It really emphasizes implementing best management practices to reduce phosphorus losses from fields."In addition, the proposed index approach could make it easier to develop similar indices across state lines, according to Ketterings. This makes sense, since watersheds don't follow state boundaries. Growers could use different practices, if deemed appropriate, for different regions.READ MORE about Ketterings' work in Journal of Environmental Quality.
Liquid manure application in the Midwest typically happens in spring and fall each year. The majority of liquid manure application takes place using a tank or a dragline applicator, providing additional nutrients to crops. Tank applicators transport manure from the livestock facility to agricultural fields and apply manure using a tank-mounted tool-bar. For fields that are close-by, manure can be pumped directly to the dragline-mounted tool-bar. In either case, a pre-determined application rate is used to pump manure through a manifold, which distributes manure to the application points across the tool-bar. “Environmental regulations require producers to make sure manure is being applied to agricultural fields in accordance with their manure management plans,” said Dan Andersen, assistant professor and extension agricultural engineering specialist with Iowa State University. Variations in tank capacities, manure densities and the presence of foam can cause the application rate to be different from the target number, as can variations in drive speed. Application rate should be verified, and both tank and dragline applicators need to be calibrated to ensure accurate application. Both distribution of manure and calibrating the applicators are covered in a pair of new ISU Extension and Outreach publications – “Distribution of Liquid Manure Application” (AE 3600) and “Calibrating Liquid Tank Manure Applicators” (AE 3601A). Both are available through the Extension Store. A “Calibration Worksheet for Liquid Manure Tank Applicators” (AE 3601B) is also available. Calibration of the application rate, in terms of gallons per acre applied, can be achieved using an area volume method. For applicators without automated controls, the volume of manure applied in a given pass should be determined. Knowing the density of the manure and the area covered in the pass, the application rate can be determined. Instructions for determining density and coverage area are included in publication AE 3601A. There are manure applicators that use tractor-mounted automated flow controls to achieve accurate application rates. In these cases, flow controllers use a flow meter with an actuator to govern the flow rate and, subsequently the application rate. “The majority of flow meters are set at the factory for their rated measurements, which can potentially be different when used for manure application,” said Kapil Arora, agricultural engineering specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The flow meters should be verified to ensure they are providing correct flow rate readouts to the flow controls.” Achieving calibration of the target application rates only provides an average amount applied on a per acre basis. This application rate is delivered to the manifold mounted on the tool-bar, which then distributes the manure to the application points. This distribution of the manure across the tool-bar swath should be uniform so the variability among application points is minimal. This distribution should be verified only after the calibration for the application rate has been completed. Split manure application, manure application to soybeans, high total nitrogen testing manures, and use of the Maximum Return to Nitrogen Rate Calculator can all cause the manure application rates to be lower than what was previously being used. “Distribution across the toolbar points can be verified by capturing the discharge from each point for a known time,” Arora said. “Care should be taken to set up the equipment as close to the field conditions as possible. Aim for as low a variation as possible in the captured discharge so that better distribution is achieved across the toolbar swath.” Kapil Arora is an agricultural and biosystems engineering specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Daniel Andersen is an agricultural and biosystems engineer, also with ISU Extension.
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Manure Science Review 2017Wed Aug 02, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Iowa Manure Calibration & Distribution Field DayFri Aug 04, 2017 @ 1:00PM - 05:00PM
Empire Farm Days 2017Tue Aug 08, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Dakotafest 2017Tue Aug 15, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
AgSource Laboratories Anniversary Celebration Open HouseWed Aug 16, 2017 @ 2:00PM - 05:00PM
North American Manure Expo 2017Tue Aug 22, 2017 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM