Applications

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
January 25, 2018, Des Moines, IA – The air leaving Iowa hog confinements contains manure and should be illegal under state law, according to a petition filed with the state. Four northeast Iowa residents want the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to regulate the release of manure through the air in the same way it regulates the release of liquid manure. The state requires that manure be retained until it's applied as fertilizer to farm fields, the petition says. READ MORE
January 17, 2018, Little Rock, AR – Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has denied the application for a permit to a Mt. Judea area hog operation, according to a letter issued by the agency's director on Jan. 10. In response, the farm owner filed a request for a stay of the state's decision before the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, the appellate body for ADEQ. The farmers released a statement calling the department's decision to deny their permit request "politically motivated." The statement says the Newton County farm hasn't had any environmental violations since opening nearly five years ago. READ MORE
Christmas came early for pork producers in Manitoba, Canada, last month.
January 2, 2018, Winnipeg, Man – Scientists with the University of Manitoba are providing valuable information intended to help manage the risks posed by the virus responsible for Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea. Research being conducted by the University of Manitoba's National Centre for Livestock and the Environment is examining the survivability and infectivity of PEDv in manure and the potential of soils fertilized with infected manure to become a vector for the spread of the disease. Christine Rawluk, the research coordinator with the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment, says the threat of the spread of this virus has increased substantially. “When Dr. Ehsan Khafipour began the first project with MLMMI and PAMI in 2014, the incidence of the disease on Manitoba farms was minimal,” she says. “Flash forward a few years and we're seeing quite a different picture. This was the very first comprehensive study of PED survivability and infectivity in earthen manure storages. A subsequent project that recently concluded focused on PED survivability in soils following surface applications of PED positive manure.” “The initial work showed that not only can PEDv survive our winters, the virus can potentially replicate throughout the winter in earthen manure storages,” Rawluk adds. “Their recently completed field investigations found detectable levels of the virus in soil samples collected three weeks after surface applications. But, in this study, they did not assess the virus infectivity. It was not part of what was undertaken but they see that as a critical first step to understanding the risk posed by soils receiving PED positive manure.” Rawluk says we still need to understand the potential of the virus to survive in soil and remain infective following land application of infected manure and determine the potential of this soil to become a vector for spreading this disease. She says planned future PEDv research will examine the survivability and infectivity when infected manure is applied to different soil types under different climate conditions.
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
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.
An over-wintering cow-calf beef herd produces manure – quite a lot of it.
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.
November 30, 2017, Idalia, CO – Colorado boasts more than one hundred cattle feedlots capable of holding over a thousand animals, according to the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment. Many of those operations are close to waterways. Like in other states, it’s up to cattlemen and regulators to keep manure out of streams and groundwater. Environmentalists worry that will get trickier as historic rain events become more common. Such a situation has become a legal drama for 5 Star Feedlot. READ MORE
Innovative research is reshaping what is known about ammonia and related emissions from feedlots. And that new knowledge may help the industry to adjust its management, shape and react to public policy more effectively.
November 15, 2017 – Livestock facilities can be odorous, including systems that manage beef cattle on deep-bedded pack. Based on the results of past research, bedding mixtures containing pine shavings produce less odors and have lower levels of total E. coli compared to bedding mixtures containing other crop- and wood-based materials. Unfortunately, availability and affordability may limit the use of pine bedding in beef deep-bedded facilities. But recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has found that some odor relief is possible if pine bedding is mixed with readily available and affordable corn stover bedding. During the study, mixtures of bedding materials, containing zero, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, and 100 percent pine chips combined with corn stover, were tested over a seven-week period for odor generation and presence of E. coli. Results showed that including even 10 percent pine chips in the mixture lowered the concentration of skatole, a highly odorous compound emitted from livestock waste. When 100 percent pine chips were used, skatole was reduced by 88 percent compared to using corn stover alone. Including greater than 60 percent pine chips in the mixture increased the concentration of odorous sulfur compounds up to 2.4 times compared to corn stover. Bedding material did not affect E. coli. Researchers are suggesting a bedding material mixture that contains 30 to 60 percent pine and 40 to 70 percent corn stover may be the ideal combination to mitigate odorous emissions from livestock facilities using deep-bedded systems.
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 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.
December 1, 2017, Princess Anne, MD – A new public-private partnership between University of Maryland Eastern Shore and a western-shore based recycling startup company proposes to solve some of Delmarva's most pressing problems. With no incineration, leaving behind no waste or byproducts and in just 30 minutes, ReGreen Organic's innovative recycling process transforms waste into clean, sanitary, odor-free and marketable products: Fertilizers, compost, animal feed and fuel pellets. READ MORE
People in the poultry industry have been on the fast-track to learning how to better deal with manure in the face of changing application rules and environmental concerns.
February 13, 2018, Minneapolis, MN – It may be hard to imagine spring coming anytime soon with the recent arctic temperatures, but in a few short months it’ll be time to apply nutrients for the upcoming crops. If you plan to apply manure, now is the time to start mapping out your plans for the year to save headaches down the road. Here are some tips to get you started on your plans and for applying manure this spring: Inspect equipment. Make sure everything is functioning properly. To avoid leaks or spills, replace or repair anything that needs fixed. Get your manure sampled and analyzed, or find your most recent manure analysis. This will give you an accurate idea of how many nutrients are available to you. Plan applications for each field. Calculate your application rates using the nutrient needs of your upcoming crop (based on the University of Minnesota recommendations) and your manure nutrient analysis. Subtract out any nutrient credits from manure applied in the past 3 years or from legumes grown in the past year. Determine any setbacks needed in fields. This includes streams, ditches, lakes, tile inlets and sinkholes. Also mark locations of sensitive features to avoid. Put together an Emergency Action Plan. Make a list of emergency contacts in case of a leak or spill and think of ways that you could possibly contain a spill so that you can have the appropriate tools on hand. Tips for manure application: Monitor the weather. Avoid applying immediately before a predicted rainfall. Avoid wet or frozen fields. Manure can very easily run off of a frozen field, especially in spring rains. On fields that are wet, adding manure (which has liquid in it) will only increase the likelihood of runoff or the start of tile flow. You are also more likely to cause soil compaction in wet conditions. Apply manure according to calculated rates. Do not overapply! Nutrients are less likely to be lost to our waterways when applied at appropriate rates. Monitor equipment for leaks. Have equipment handy for stopping leaks and for cleanup. Know the numbers you need to call if there is a spill. Keep records. Always note the field location, manure source and amount applied. Keep records on file for at least three years. For the latest nutrient management information, visit the UMN Extension Nutrient Management website.
January 26, 2018, Storrs, CT – Understanding the source of contaminants in waterways is crucial for public health and safety, and a University of Connecticut professor is developing an easy way to do just that. All contamination will eventually find its way downstream. In Connecticut that means it may travel through neighborhoods where residents swim, to larger recreational areas such as beaches, and eventually to the Long Island Sound and shellfish beds. And, without knowing the exact source of the problem, the contamination can’t be addressed. John Clausen of University of Connecticut’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, is now testing a protocol he developed to find the source. Clausen started this project almost by chance when he realized that a method had not yet been developed. “I discovered that no one has perfected the technique for being able to look at a water sample, find E. coli and tell you where it came from, so that’s my quest,” he says. The first step toward this goal was to identify the streams to monitor, which was a rigorous process, says Clausen. While there are plenty of waterways in the state that are contaminated – 200 in 2016, according to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – the streams needed to pass by farmland. Farm animals and animals, in general, are often the source of the contamination. So Clausen started in the Thames river Basin, initially picking more than 30 sites and then narrowing that number down to 10 streams. Once the sites were chosen, Clausen installed a type of water sampler at each location to collect samples whenever there is a significant rainfall event. “When you get one-to-two inch storms, you really get high E. coli values,” says Clausen. To help with the collection efforts, the researchers coordinated volunteers to collect and deliver the water samples from all of the sites after heavy rain events. Clausen says they’ve become very good at watching the weather to determine when to collect samples. Then the samples with high contamination are sent to a lab to quantify the level of coliform bacteria from animal sources. Now Clausen is designing tests for E. coli specifically. He and his team of student researchers are developing tests for chicken, horse, cow and human sources. The process involves collecting fecal samples, isolating the bacteria and their DNA, pinpointing species specific markers to target and then working out the fine details to optimize the tests. “We are now in the statistics part of development. This winter we’ll be sequencing to see how well our tests match up with the bacteria in the water samples,” says Clausen. The overall goal is to identify producers and sources of contamination so remediation efforts can be put in place. Clausen points out that industry already has best practices to reduce E. coli in waterways from agricultural sources, manure management being one of those. When manure is not handled properly, for example, bacteria-rich runoff can easily make its way into our waterways. “Just storing manure in holding tanks is very effective. There is a die-off period for pathogens, after which the manure can be spread more safely,” Clausen says. Unfortunately for farmers, holding tanks are pricey and other best practices are not always easy to carry out. But fortunately in the case of E. coli, unlike that for other types of runoff such as fertilizers, the E. coli that make their way into the watershed don’t seem to persist for quite so long. Once bacterial source tracking is available and sources of contamination are identified, remediation efforts could potentially have a big impact on returning streams to safe levels fairly quickly. “I’ve already had officials ask if we can start testing,” says Clausen. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re close.”
January 19, 2018, Derbyshire, UK – A British motorist learned a lesson in manners the hard way recently after trying to overtake a tractor pulling a manure tanker on a busy road. According to a report in the Derby Telegraph, as the driver tried to overtake the tractor, the vehicle collided with the slurry outlet on the tanker. Unable to detach from the outlet, the tractor dragged the car along the road. Even more alarming was the fact the car began to fill with pig manure. The Derbyshire Roads Police Unit was met with a bit of a mess when they arrived to investigate the collision on the A515. But they had lots of fun posting photos of the incident on Twitter with the punch line: “Think you have had a bad day?”
January 16, 2017, East Lansing, MI – Michigan State University Extension is pleased to announce that Erica Rogers recently started as an Extension educator to serve the livestock industry throughout the state of Michigan. “I am excited to build relationships with farmers locally and statewide to help them maximize production while remaining environmentally sound as well as educating community members on the important role that agriculture plays in the food system and the steps agriculture takes daily to protect the environment,” Rogers said. She will be based out of the Gratiot County MSU Extension office in Alma, Michigan. A native of Michigan, Rogers’ passion for both animal science and Extension programming began at a young age through her experiences in 4-H, which carried forward as she earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University in 2012. Her dedication and interest in Extension programming led her to pursue a master’s degree in Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Animal Science, which she completed in 2017. Rogers’ research efforts [which will be featured in an upcoming Manure Manager magazine feature] centered on environmental poultry management, focusing on discovering and promoting efficient poultry production systems that place minimum burden on the environment. Although managing manure and the by-products of poultry production are obvious endeavors, other important efforts include impacts of odor, flies and traffic (to name a few) on the environment. All of which are important to the sustainability of poultry production and processing in Pennsylvania. Rogers and her advisors, Dr. Paul Patterson and Dr. Michael Hulet, addressed this region’s industry needs for research-based information on poultry manure production and nutrient content within the Chesapeake Bay watershed through Rogers’ master’s thesis project, which investigated nutrients produced by commercial laying hens, laying hen pullets, broilers, turkeys, and breeders under changing management styles for use in the Chesapeake Bay models that determine Total Maximum Daily Loads. She presented her work at the 2017 International Poultry Scientific Forum during the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, GA, and the 2017 Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL. Through her research efforts at Pennsylvania State University, Rogers has worked with poultry integrators and visited more than 70 farms, collecting manure samples from random points and at varying depths throughout manure stacks. The manure was sampled at the time of hauling to best represent the nutrients being land applied. Due to the nature of her research, Rogers discovered a passion for helping farmers be successful in their operations and to help the community better understand agriculture’s role in protecting the environment.   Rogers can be reached at the Gratiot County MSU Extension office, 989-875-5233, or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
January 11, 2018, Madison, WI – 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. In the Midwest, the problem is largely due to phosphorus, a key element in fertilizers that is carried off the land and into the water, where it grows algae as easily as it grows corn and soybeans. Previous research had found that waterways receive most of their annual phosphorus load in only a dozen or two events each year, reports Steve Carpenter, director emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Limnology and lead author of a new paper published online in the journal Limnology and Oceanography. The paper ties those phosphorus pulses to extreme rain events. In fact, Carpenter says, the bigger the rainstorm, the more phosphorus is flushed downstream. Carpenter and his colleagues used daily records of stream discharge to measure the amount of phosphorus running into Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisc., from two of its main tributaries. The dataset spanned a period from the early 1990s to 2015. The scientists then looked at long-term weather data and found that big rainstorms were followed immediately by big pulses of phosphorus. The researchers reviewed stream data from the same period, when seven of the 11 largest rain storms since 1901 occurred. "This is an important example of how changes in one aspect of the environment, in this case precipitation, can lead to changes in other aspects, such as phosphorus load," said Tom Torgersen, director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Water, Sustainability and Climate program, which, along with NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, funded the research. “This study's findings, which depend on long-term data, are important to maintaining water quality not only today, but into the future," added David Garrison, chair of NSF's LTER Working Group. Carpenter agreed. "Without long-term data, this research would never have happened." The next steps, he said, need to include new strategies for managing nutrient runoff. Farmers and conservation groups now use several strategies to try to slow water down and capture some of the sediment and fertilizer it carries as it runs off a field. "But we're not going to solve the problem with buffer strips or contour plowing or winter cover crops," said Carpenter. Although those practices all help, he said, "eventually a really big storm will overwhelm them." The best available option for protecting water quality is to keep excess phosphorus off the landscape, Carpenter said. "A rainstorm can't wash fertilizer or manure downstream if it isn't there." Carpenter noted that while there are countless acres in the Midwest that are oversaturated with phosphorus, there are also places that aren't. And that, he said, "is an encouraging sign. Some farmers are having success in decreasing their soil phosphorus, and we could learn from them." “This analysis clearly shows that extreme rainfall is responsible for a large amount of the phosphorus that flows into inland waters,” added John Schade, an NSF LTER program director. “Now, we need to develop nutrient management strategies to meet the challenge. Without long-term data like those presented here, the impact of these events would be difficult to assess."
January 10, 2018, Woodstock, Ont – Manure applied to wheat crops or to forage crops can be an excellent option, but not in winter on frozen soils. Manure application in winter should not ever be part of a manure management plan. Rather, it should be part of a contingency plan, because we all know that weather happens. Frequent rain and a late corn harvest are taxing manure storage capacities on many farms. Contingency plans are essential for manure that must be applied in less than ideal conditions. A forage or wheat field can be an ideal site for contingency plan manure application, because compaction should not be an issue, and the soil cover would help prevent nutrient runoff and erosion. Forage or wheat fields are ideal for those reasons. However, winterkill becomes a much greater risk, especially with application of liquid manure. Why? Beside the common risks – which include compaction from wheel traffic and crown damage – manure contains salts! Salinization, the concentration of salt in the root zone, is not an issue in Ontario. Ample precipitation and drainage leaches the salts through the soil profile. However, when the soil is frozen, infiltration can’t occur. Salts in manure can then turn deadly. High sodium also has a negative effect on soil structure; making the soil more susceptible to crusting, and further decreasing the capacity for infiltration. Livestock manure contains many salts, including ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. When accrued, they can be significant. Salt content varies from farm to farm based on livestock species, diet formulation and even the salt in the drinking water. Many manure analyses report “Total Salts” or electrical conductivity (EC) to reflect the accumulated salts. A typical hog manure (as applied basis) can have about 20 mS/cm (milliSemens/cm) or about 125 lbs of total salts per 1,000 gallons. Dairy manure average is 14 mS/cm or about 90 lbs/1000 gallons. Sodium and magnesium chloride have a working temperatures to about -15° C; potassium chloride to -4° C, while calcium chloride can work to about -23° C. When manure is applied on frozen or snow-covered soils, the salts melt the snow and ice at the soil surface. The layer below may still be frozen, preventing infiltration. The melted, saturated layer is high in salts, toxic to roots, and more prone to erosion and runoff, and more susceptible to frost heaving. All these risks are increased where manure with high EC or total salt contents has been applied. When contingency plan applications become necessary during the winter season, options include: Late summer application to forage crops after the final cut or at the beginning of the critical harvest period, Temporary storage at a neighbouring storage that has extra capacity, Application to forage fields or cover crops that will be tilled or killed, Application to the most level harvested fields, preferably with residue still present, furthest away from surface water, where application does not occur through water runs or “flow paths.” Sampling manure at the time of application should be standard practice. A manure analysis that includes total salts will help to determine the level of risk if contingency application in winter is a last resort.

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