Applications

March 1, 2018, Primghar, IA – An O'Brien County jury has awarded an Alton, Iowa, man nearly $1.2 million for injuries he suffered after being poisoned by toxic gases inside a hog confinement barn. The jury found the farm owner negligent for the Oct. 17, 2014, incident, in which an employee was overcome by hydrogen sulfide and other gases inside a barn in rural Archer, Iowa. The employee was unconscious for 15 to 30 minutes and suffered two strokes resulting in brain damage that has caused him permanent partial short-term memory loss, according to his attorney. READ MORE
February 26, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Recent application denials at the county level mean more Iowans see the need for a moratorium on new factory farms, according to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. The Iowa Pork Producers Association said a moratorium on hog farms would devastate Iowa's economy and livestock producers. READ MORE
February 20, 2018, Western Grove, AR – Operators of an unpermitted hog farm in the Buffalo River's watershed must clear improperly stored hog manure and develop a plan to manage the manure by March 15, a judge has ordered. But the farm won't have to shut down or get an operating permit, Boone County Circuit Judge Gail Inman-Campbell ruled this month. READ MORE
February 20, 2018, Bloomsburg, PA – A Columbia County man is taking his fight to build a swine barn to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The farmer initially received a special exception from the township to build the 4,800-head nursery barn in 2013, but a citizens group has been appealing that decision ever since. The state attorney general's office, Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Protection, along with the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and PennAg Industries Association, have also joined the appeal, which could have a profound impact on how PA farms are regulated. READ MORE
February 7, 2018, Winnipeg, Man – A scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says tailoring ration formulations to the needs of each pig will lower feeding costs and reduce the environmental impact of manure. As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, Canadian scientists are developing a precision feeding system that will tailor the ration to match the nutritional needs of each individual pig. Dr. Candido Pomar, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, says by supplying one diet that meet the needs of the least productive pigs, the producer ends up overfeeding the more productive pigs. “We have to look at nutrient requirements from two different points of view,” says Dr. Pomar. “One is when we are looking to a given animal or when we are feeding a group of animals the definition of nutrient requirements is very different. Feeding one pig at a given time is not the same thing as feeding a large group of pigs during a long period of time. We have to understand that estimating nutrient requirements, we are addressing the issue of one animal, why are we using that to feed groups of animals?” “When you over supply the nutrients, you are using important resources that finally ends in manure so this is very expensive,” he adds. “Today the farmers are challenged to reduce feeding costs.” “Feed costs represent 60 to 70 percent of the cost of producing a hog. So optimizing the level of nutrients, knowing how much the pigs need we can reduce costs. Reducing costs, we are [also] reducing the environmental impact because all the nutrients they giving in excess finish always in the same way, in manure.” Dr. Pomar says early indications are that by personalizing formulations for each pig, we can produce the same amount of meat with 25 percent less protein, dramatically reducing feed costs.
February 5, 2018, Lohrville, IA — A hog producer in Calhoun County has agreed to pay a $3,000 penalty after the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said a manure release killed about two acres of corn in a neighbor’s field. The DNR received a complaint on July 18, 2017, from the neighbor who said manure from the facility was running into his field, according to a consent order from the DNR. READ MORE
February 15, 2018, Tillamook, OR – An Oregon dairy has been fined $16,800 for a massive manure spill that shut down Tillamook Bay last spring. About 190,000 gallons of liquid manure were released from an above-ground storage tank at the dairy operation on April 12, 2017, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said. The manure pooled in a field near the dairy barns, flowed across three other landowners’ properties, and ended up in a slough that connects to a drainage system that pumps water into the Tillamook River, which then enters the bay. READ MORE
February 1, 2018, Sacramento, CA – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $9.64 million in grant funding to 17 alternative manure management projects across the state. These projects, part of the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on California dairy farms and livestock operations by using manure management practices that are alternatives to dairy digesters (i.e. non-digester projects). The winning projects can be viewed here. When livestock manure decomposes in wet conditions, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Changing manure management practices so that manure is handled in a dry form can help significantly reduce methane emissions. These reductions contribute to the state’s overall short-lived climate pollutant strategy under Senate Bill 1383, which aims to reduce California’s methane emissions to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. “California dairy farmers are leading the way in proactively addressing greenhouse gas emissions” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “I am excited to see both the diversity of farms and the variety of non-digester manure management practices being adopted through these projects that will help meet the state’s climate goals.” Financial assistance for the implementation of non-digester practices comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses Cap-and-Trade program funds to support the state’s climate goals. CDFA and other state agencies are investing these proceeds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide additional benefits to California communities. AMMP grant recipients will provide an estimated $2.7 million in matching funds for the development of their projects. Information about the 2017 Alternative Manure Management Program projects is available at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/AMMP/ .
January 23, 2018, Auburn, NY – A manure overflow in the town of Venice, NY, impacted Salmon Creek earlier this month, but it was not seen in Cayuga Lake, nor did it affect residents' water supplies, according to state and local officials. The NY Department of Environmental Conservation said it was notified of a manure spill on Jan. 10 at Indian Field Road due to a mechanical failure in farm equipment. READ MORE
January 22, 2018, Madison, WI – The University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Department of Natural Resources are co-hosting a series of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) update meetings throughout Wisconsin in early February. The meetings are specifically designed for WPDES permitted CAFO owners/managers, producers considering expansion, nutrient management plan writers and engineers. Each meeting will provide information on new policies, proper spill response, manure hauling, day-storage calculations and will feature a DNR panel. The forums are slated to be held throughout the state in the coming weeks. Nutrient management plan writers and engineers working on large farms are also invited to attend. The meetings will be held on the follow dates and locations: February 5: Tundra Lodge Conference Center, Green Bay February 5: Crystal Falls Banquet Hall, New London February 6: Silver Valley Banquet Hall, Manitowoc February 6: University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac, Fond du Lac February 8: County Building, Dodgeville February 9: UW-Extension office, Jefferson February 12: UW-Marshfield Ag Research Station, Marshfield February 13: Clarion Hotel, Eau Claire Wisconsin has more than 250 CAFO farms throughout the state and these meetings offer an opportunity for owners, managers, advisors, and other CAFO stakeholders to receive updated information to help meet permit requirements. The meetings also provide an opportunity for permittees to learn about new report submission processes and learn how to avoid common errors and problems. Each meeting also features a local topic of interest such as prairie buffer strips, automated calf feeding, CAFO community outreach, nitrogen application, human resource management, and environmental efforts. More information on the meetings and individual meeting brochures can be accessed at https://conservation-training.uwex.edu/news/2018-annual-cafo-update-meetings. To pre-register for any of the workshops, call UW-Extension at 920-391-4652.
January 18, 2018, Kewaunee, WI – Kewaunee County officials Jan. 16 declined to pursue a moratorium on dairy herd expansion, saying it could hamper recent progress toward groundwater protection. Corporation Counsel Jeff Wisnicky told the county Land & Water Conservation Committee that enforcement of regulations on manure land-spreading is better suited to the goal than trying to impose a moratorium on herd expansion. READ MORE
January 17, 2018, Salem, OR – How did a Salem-area dairy rack up dozens of environmental violations over 15 years without the public knowing anything about it? That’s what attendees at a public hearing on a new permit for the dairy asked the Oregon Department of Agriculture Jan. 10. READ MORE
Beef and dairy farmers around the world are looking for ways to reduce methane emissions from their herds to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – a global priority. To help meet this goal, researchers from Canada and Australia teamed-up for a comprehensive three-year study to find the best feeding practices that reduce methane emissions while still supporting profitable dairy and beef cattle production."We need to know how feed affects methane production, but we also need to know how it affects other aspects of the farm operation, like daily gains in animals, milk production, and feed efficiency. Farmers want to help the environment, and they need to know what the trade-offs will be, which is why we took a holistic approach looking at the overall impacts," explains Dr. Karen Beauchemin, beef researcher from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).Researchers and farm system modellers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Agriculture Victoria (Australia), and the University of Melbourne, worked together to examine three feed supplements.Methane inhibitor supplement 3-nitrooxypropanol (3NOP) could reduce costs and increase profits3NOP is a promising commercial feed supplement that can be given to cattle to inhibit the enzyme methyl coenzyme M reductase – an enzyme responsible for creating methane in the animal's rumen (first stomach). After blocking the enzyme, 3NOP quickly breaks down in the animal's rumen to simple compounds that are already present in nature.AAFC's Dr. Beauchemin studied the short- and long-term impacts of feeding 3NOP to beef cattle and shared her findings within the broader study."We now have clear evidence that 3NOP can have a long-term positive effect on reducing methane emissions and improving animal performance. We saw a 30-50% reduction in methane over a long period of time and a 3-5% improvement in feed efficiency," Beauchemin says.Producing milk, gaining weight, and creating methane all take energy that a cow fuels by eating. Cattle eating a diet that contained the 3NOP supplement produced less methane. And, because there was less methane more energy could be used by the animal for growth. When using this supplement, cattle consumed less feed to gain a pound of body weight compared to control animals."What is also great is that the inhibitor worked just as effectively no matter what type of feed the cattle were eating," Beauchemin explains. "We don't know the actual market price of the supplement yet because it is still going through approvals for registration in Canada and the U.S. That will be important for farmers who want to calculate the cost-benefit of using 3NOP to reduce methane emissions from their cows and enhance profits."The Story of NitrateMicroorganisms in the cattle's rumen need nitrogen to be able to efficiently break down food for the animal to absorb. Nitrate is a form of non-protein nitrogen similar to that found in urea, a compound used in cattle diets. When nitrate is fed to cattle, it is converted to ammonia which is then used by the micro-organisms. During this process, nitrogen in the nitrate works like a powerful magnet that is able to hold onto and attract hydrogen. This leaves less hydrogen available in the rumen to attach to carbon to make methane, thus reducing the amount of methane produced.Researchers in Canada found that adding nitrate to the diet of beef cattle reduces methane production by 20 percent in the short-term (up to three weeks), and after 16 weeks it still reduced methane up to 12 percent. In addition, feeding nitrate improved the gain-to-feed ratio. However, administering the correct dosage is extremely important, as too much nitrate can make an animal ill. So it is recommended this method should be used with care and caution.Dr. Richard Eckard, a researcher from the University of Melbourne explained "I understand that in Canada, most forages are not that low in protein. But in the rangelands of northern Australia, the protein content in the forage is extremely low. It is possible that adding nitrate to Australian cattle feed may be able to improve the feeding regime from the current use of urea, but it depends on the price."To supplement or not supplement with wheat, corn, or barley?In the short term, wheat effectively reduced methane production by 35 percent compared with corn or barley grain; but, over time cattle were able to adapt to the change in feed and the methane inhibitory effect disappeared. Essentially, after 10 weeks, methane production was the same for corn, barley, and wheat.The study also showed genetic variation in cows where about 50 percent of the cows that were fed wheat remained low in their methane emissions, even for as long as 16 weeks. However, the other cows adapted to the wheat diet and had methane emissions similar to, or even greater than those fed diets containing either corn or barley. Based on genetics, some cows are more adaptable than others and, in the long-term, it is more difficult to reduce the amount of methane they produce.For dairy cows, Dr. Peter Moate, Dairy Researcher with Agriculture Victoria, was particularly intrigued about the link between milk fat, yield and methane emissions."We found that feeding cows wheat increased milk yield but fat levels decreased. For the farmer, it really depends on what they want to achieve in order to say whether this makes sense economically," explained Moate. "Overall, feeding wheat didn't have the long-term ability to reduce methane emissions, so it really couldn't be recommended as a best practice to achieve this type of goal."Lessons learned"Our better understanding of feeding regimes will make a difference for farmers, but more importantly this research has really helped us understand more precisely the volume of greenhouse gases (GHGs) the industry is producing under different feed regimes. This is powerful information for policy makers," stated Beauchemin.This is particularly true for countries that have implemented or are thinking about putting a price on carbon or a carbon trading scheme in place to reduce GHG emissions."By adopting different farming methods to reduce GHGs, farmers may be able to sell these "carbon credits" for revenue. But the key is to prove that these farming methods work and warrant being officially recognized for carbon credits. This work is one step closer in this process" explains Beauchemin.While this project has wrapped-up, the work has not ended. Researchers in both countries unanimously agree that they will continue to help farmers and the industry find solutions to reducing their carbon footprint.
Ithaca, N.Y. - A major study led by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine researchers reveals for the first time that water troughs on farms are a conduit for the spread of toxic E. coli in cattle, which can then spread the pathogen to people through bacteria in feces. The study was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE."Water troughs appeared in our mathematical model as a place where water can get contaminated and a potential place where we could break the cycle," said Renata Ivanek, associate professor of epidemiology and the paper's senior author. The hypothesis was then tested in the field – with surprising results.People commonly acquire infections from shiga toxin-producing E. coli through cow feces-contaminated beef and salad greens. The main shiga toxin-producing strain, E. coli 0157:H7, causes more than 63,000 illnesses per year and about 20 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Though cows carry and spread E. coli 0157:H7 when they defecate, the bacteria do not make them sick. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
A soil Scientists with the University of Saskatchewan says the broad range of nutrients contained in livestock manure require a higher level of management but it will also heighten crop response.The University of Saskatchewan has been looking at the long term implications of using livestock manure to fertilize crops.Dr. Jeff Schoenau, a professor with the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Research Chair in Soil Nutrient Management, says typically only a portion of manure nutrients are available in the first year of application. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
An over-wintering cow-calf beef herd produces manure – quite a lot of it.
You might wonder what dry weather and feedlot runoff would have in common. On the one hand, a spell of dry weather can cause expanding areas of moderate drought and dry soils. But dry conditions also make for an excellent time to maintain your feedlot runoff control system.
Iowa’s Smith family, owners of SFI Inc, have been on a decades-long quest to prove and demonstrate that it pays to practice good land stewardship that includes manure composting, capturing nutrients before they leave their feedlots, and recycling them as organic fertilizer on their row crops.
October 17, 2017, Sun Prairie, WI – Dane County officials and local farmers recently announced a new initiative that will help farmers reduce manure runoff into the lakes, improve farm productivity and decrease climate change emissions. As part of its 2018 budget, the Dane County Executive is allocating $200,000 to study the potential of creating a large-scale community facility where farmers could bring manure and have it composted. READ MORE
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
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&Itemid=11&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#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.”
Livestock producers in California received a crash course in composting earlier this summer.Nine consecutive days of temperatures above 100 degrees in the Central Valley area of the state resulted in a large jump in cattle deaths. According to an agricultural official in Fresno County, between 4,000 and 6,000 head of livestock died in the month of June due to the heat. Adding to the problem was the temporary shutdown, due to a mechanical problem, of the local rendering plant. As a result, a state of emergency was called in at least three counties and the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP) released an emergency mortality disposal advisory. Under the plan, producers were provided with three options to dispose of mortalities: directly transport the carcasses to an alternate rendering facility or permitted landfill; temporarily store mortalities on farm in compost piles until they could be permanently disposed of; or, as a last resort, bury the carcasses in an emergency landfill on farm, which still required a mountain load of paperwork and possibly thousands of dollars in fees.According to the five-page advisory, producers were encouraged to put down a waterproof liner and use dairy manure solids as a composting agent, placing each adult carcass on a three foot bed of manure and then covering with a second layer of manure three feet deep. By doing this, farmers could buy themselves an extra six months of time before the carcasses needed to be disposed of permanently off farm.“Staff will be looking for evidence of bones and carcasses that have been left more than six months,” the advisory warned, adding the number and identity of the animals composted plus documentation they had been properly disposed of would also be required.While this isn’t the first time California has dealt with large-scale livestock deaths due to heat, it will be interesting to see how the agriculture and landfill industry deals with the added pressure to the carcass disposal system. With the threat of animal disease outbreaks, such as bird flu or foot and mouth disease, always in the background, this negative situation provides an opportunity to test-drive the official response. Heaven forbid it would be required on a state- or nation-wide scale but it’s always prudent to be prepared.I look forward to any lessons learned which come after the debrief.Speaking of composting, producers and custom manure applicators can learn more about the management practice and see relevant equipment in action during the North American Manure Expo, taking place in late August at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station near Arlington, Wisc. I consider Expo one of my favorite industry events of the year. What isn’t there to enjoy? Farmers, family, food, friends, farm equipment, information, demonstrations, community: the important things in life.This Manure-a-palooza takes a year or more of planning to bring to fruition, including hours of committee meetings and conference calls. As a frequent participant in these morning gatherings, I can attest to the time and effort by industry volunteers that goes into preparing for this event. Be sure to check out the event website – manureexpo.org – and consider taking part.
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 21, 2018, Tucker, GA – The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association recognized six poultry farm winners and three finalists who received the annual Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award at the International Poultry Expo, part of the 2018 International Production & Processing Expo. The award is given annually in acknowledgment of exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production. “It is a privilege to recognize these nine family farms for the excellent job they do in being good stewards of their land,” said Tom Hensley, president, Fieldale Farms, Baldwin, Ga., and newly elected U.S. Poultry chairman. “Our industry could not continue to operate and flourish without taking proper care of our natural resources. These six winners and three finalists are to be commended for their efforts.” Applicants were rated in several categories, including dry litter management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques and participation in education or outreach programs. In selecting the national winners and finalists, applications were reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies and state poultry associations. The winners were chosen from six geographical regions from throughout the United States. They are as follows: Northeast Region winner – Baker’s Acres, Millsboro, Del. Terry Baker Jr., nominated by Mountaire Farms North Central Region winner – Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Saranac, Mich. Greg Herbruck, nominated by Eggland’s Best, LLC South Central Region winner – 4 T Turkey Farm, California, Mo. Bill and Lana Dicus, nominated by Cargill Southeast Region winner – Morrison Poultry, Wingo, Ky. Tim and Deena Morrison, nominated by the Kentucky Poultry Federation and Tyson Foods Southwest Region winner – Woape Farm, West, Tex. Ken and Dana Smotherman, nominated by the Texas Poultry Federation and Cargill West Region winner – Pickin’ N Pluckin’, Ridgefield, Wash. Rod and Glenda Hergert, nominated by Foster Farms There were also three finalists recognized at the award presentation. They are as follows: West Region finalist – Hiday Poultry Farms LLC, Brownsville, Ore. Randy Hiday, nominated by Foster Farms Northeast Region finalist – Foltz Farm K, Mathias, W.Va. Kevin and Lora Foltz and sons, nominated by Cargill South Central finalist – Featherhill Farm, Elkins, Ark. Bud and Darla O’Neal, nominated by Cargill
February 20, 2018, Clarion, IA – Plans are being unveiled for a $25 million fertilizer plant to be built in north-central Iowa. Bryce Davis, Wright County’s economic development director, says the plant will be located in a rural area about ten miles from Clarion and it’ll take in up to 150,000 tons of chicken waste per year from several area poultry plants. READ MORE
February 5, 2018, Georgetown, DE — A Maryland company has been trying to get approval to build a new facility that would process chicken litter and convert it into energy and other agricultural byproducts. But public opposition has already derailed plans to build the facility in Crisfield, Maryland, where the City Council denied permission at a Jan. 10 meeting. READ MORE
January 9, 2018, Harrington, DE – Poultry farmers Randy and Jordan McCloskey were recognized during Delaware Ag Week for their efforts to improve water quality and reduce nutrient runoff with the 2017 Delaware Environmental Stewardship Award. The McCloskey’s farm is located in Houston, where they grow broilers for Allen Harim Foods. On top of the four poultry houses, with a capacity of 136,800 birds per flock, the McCloskey’s farm 500 acres of grain. As part of their efforts to be good environmental stewards, the McCloskey’s have utilized diverse road-side plantings to help reduce dust, control odors, and increase aesthetics; a storm water pond on the farm is fed by seven swales; and they follow a nutrient management plan that utilizes their poultry litter for soil health benefits. When farming is done for the day, both Jordan and Randy serve as ambassadors for the industry speaking with neighbors about the antibiotic-free chickens they raise and debunking myths surrounding the industry. The Environmental Stewardship Awards were presented recently to the McCloskey’s and three other runner-ups by Nutrient Management Commission Chairman Bill Vanderwende and Nutrient Management Administrator Chris Brosch. “Each of the poultry companies nominates a Delaware poultry grower that excels in preserving and enhancing environmental quality on their farms,” Brosch said. “These farmers are great examples of the hard work and dedication that Delaware farmers have in protecting our land and water resources.” Runners-up were: Josh Parker of Bridgeville who began farming in 2008, grows for Perdue Farms, with a capacity of 100,500 roasters per flock. Parker has planted a diverse assortment of flowering native shrubs and trees as visual buffers and windbreaks. He has planted bald cypress trees in swales between houses to help take up nutrients, while storm water from the production area drains into a farm pond for treatment. Norris and Phyllis West of Laurel, who grow for Mountaire Farms, have six poultry houses with a capacity of 168,000 broilers per flock. The West’s have been raising chickens since 1968. The farm has four modern and well-maintained poultry houses. On the property, the West’s utilize three manure sheds and two composters. They have created a drainage pond and planted the banks in trees as a buffer. Brian Kunkowski of Laurel, who grows for Amick, raises 144,000 broilers per flock in his four poultry houses on 32 acres. Along with a manure shed, the storm water engineering includes stone beds along the houses, grass swales draining to a 2.5-acre pond lined with giant trees and a screened drain. Kunkowski also owns horses, but leaves the hayfields un-mowed in the winter so that wildlife can benefit. The McCloskeys will receive $1,000, a plaque and sign for their farm. The runners-up will receive $500, plaques and signs.
December 19, 2017, Port Republic, VA – Glenn Rodes was born and raised on an 860-acre turkey farm in Port Republic, VA, just south of Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley. Four generations of his family live there still, raising turkeys, cattle and row crops. With the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance; some of the trees look as old as the state itself. But while Riverhill Farms may seem unchanged by time, Rodes and his family are looking to the future. They have been experimenting with turning manure into energy for several years. Rodes even calls himself a “fuel farmer” in his email address. READ MORE
North Carolina is described as the heart of the “American Broiler Belt.” With the poultry industry still expanding to some extent in the state and less land being available for manure application due to population growth and urban sprawl, alternative uses for poultry litter are being urgently explored.
While April showers might bring May flowers, they also contribute to toxic algae blooms, dead zones and declining water quality in U.S. lakes, reservoirs and coastal waters, a new study shows.
I Have Manure. I Want Manure. Those are the two prominent buttons on the front page of the website for Manure Link, a program created by Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) in Langley, BC.
The same products that get rid of internal parasites in livestock may adversely impact the dung beetles that help break down dung, according to South Dakota State University assistant professor Lora Perkins of the Department of Natural Resource Management. That could be bad news for the dung beetles and livestock production.Through a four-year U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Perkins and three colleagues will examine how producers' use of products to control parasites, known as parasiticides, has changed and how that has impacted the dung beetle population, soil quality and forage production. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture funding is part of the Bioenergy, Natural Resources and Environment Program, which focuses on the environmental sustainability of rangeland livestock production."Dung beetles are little drivers of ecosystem function," Perkins said. "They turn a big pile of dung into nutrients in the soil that can be taken up again by plants." Previous SDSU research looked at the biodiversity of dung beetles and other insects that populate dung pats. "We're adding onto that research and moving it all the way through to forage production," she explained.Perkins, assistant professor. A. Joshua Leffler and professor Paul J. Johnson, an entomologist, will examine areas at the Ft. Pierre National Grasslands which are used by different livestock producers. Some producers use parasiticides to control parasites; others don't. "By conducting our research at Ft. Pierre, we are able to study areas that are adjacent to one another so the environmental variation among study areas is minimal," Perkins explained.The researchers will measure the dung beetle population and examine how rapidly the dung is incorporated into the soil. They will measure nitrogen in the soil and plant production by weighing the biomass."Nitrogen availability is a key factor limiting forage production, and dung beetles are key organism in making nitrogen available to plants," Leffler explained. One doctoral student will also work on this portion of the project, with fieldwork beginning this summer.However, what makes this project unique is collaboration with assistant sociology professor Jessica Ulrich-Schad. She will survey approximately 2,500 livestock producers to see whether they use parasiticides to control parasites in their livestock or not, whether that has changed over time and why. She will also ask how the parasiticides they are using have changed and what led to those changes. "Jessica is a critical member of our team. She helps us bridge the gap between the technical analyses and landowners and managers" said Perkins."We want to understand the drivers behind the use of these products," said Ulrich-Schad, who began exploring producer decision-making as a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue University. "We must get a better grasp of how farmers are making these decisions to know how we can encourage them to voluntarily use practices that are good for soil and water quality."Through the survey, she will examine producers' awareness of how these parasiticides can impact dung beetle population, soil quality and forage production, as well as the roles that social networks play in the practices they use and the awareness they have. One doctoral student will work with Ulrich-Schad. Preliminary interviews with seven producers she characterized as innovators revealed that some are noticing a decrease in the dung beetle populations."When dung piles accumulate, fields become 'fouled'—livestock won't eat by the pile," Perkins explained. "We need the beetles to help break down the dung and keep the nutrients flowing and the plants growing." Research at other universities also shows that the presence of dung beetles can reduce the survival of parasite larvae in the dung pats.
Long term trials conducted in Saskatchewan have shown the application of livestock manure fertilizer typically improves the health of the soil.The University of Saskatchewan has been conducting long term livestock manure application trials, in some cases on plots that have been studied for over 20 years, looking at the implications of using livestock manure at various rates with different application methods throughout Saskatchewan's major soil climatic zones.Dr. Jeff Schoenau, a professor with the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture research chair in soil nutrient management, says the organic matter in manure, especially in solid manures, can directly benefit things like soil structure, water retention and so on."I think in terms of effect on the soil, especially with the solid manures where we're adding a fair bit of organic matter to the soil, we certainly see some beneficial effects show up there in terms of increased organic matter content, increased carbon storage. We see some positive benefits as well in water relations, things like infiltration," said Dr. Schoenau."We also need to be aware that manures also contain salts and so, particularly some manure that may be fairly high in for example sodium, we do need to keep an eye on the salt and sodium content of the soil where there's been repeated application of manure to soils where the drainage is poor. Generally what we've found is that the salts that are added as manure in soils that are well drained really don't create any kinds of issues. But we want to keep an eye on that in soils that aren't very well drained because those manures are adding some salts, for example sodium salts."Dr. Schoenau says, when manure is applied at a rate that is in balance with what the crop needs and takes out over time, we have no issues in terms of spill over into the environment. He says that balance is very important, putting in what you're taking out over time.
I can feel my breakfast rising in my throat. “31-year-old worker died from exposure to manure gases, OSHA finds,” states the accident report on my computer screen.
February 16, 2018 – A U.S.-Canadian agency says there's little doubt that commercial fertilizer and manure are the top sources of phosphorus pollution in western Lake Erie. The International Joint Commission says its science advisory board based the conclusion on an extensive analysis of existing data about the shallowest of the Great Lakes. READ MORE

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