November 21, 2017, Harrison, AR – A 2,400-hog farm in the Buffalo River watershed must clean up the manure on its property within the next 60 days, a Boone County circuit judge has ordered. The Newton County operation must empty a barn of dry pig manure, revegetate land and keep the hogs on its property, Judge Gail Inman-Campbell said. READ MORE
November 9, 2017, Allison, IA – A leaking pit from a hog confinement about five miles southeast of Allison in Butler County sent Iowa Department or Natural Resources (DNR) staff to the field to investigate Nov. 4. The manure flowed into a grass waterway, into an underground tile line and into a tributary of the West Fork of the Cedar River. The facility owner discovered the leak and a faulty pipe seal. The farm crew worked overnight to remove manure from the pit and land apply it. They also worked to dam the tributary and pump up contaminated water in the creek. When the DNR arrived, pumping and land application to crop fields continued. Most of the contaminated water was contained, but field tests showed elevated ammonia levels below the dam. Staff saw one small dead fish but no others. The owner continued pumping contaminated water and land applying it. On Nov. 6, DNR staff found contaminated water contained to a one-mile stretch of the tributary. Fisheries staff found a few more dead fish, but also live fish in the stream. The DNR will continue to monitor cleanup and will consider appropriate enforcement action.
November 1, 2017, Stratford, IA – The Stratford Fire Department responded to a hog building explosion southeast of Stratford Oct. 31. The wall on one side of the building was damaged by the blast. According to reports, workers had just started to stir the pit and were pumping manure when the explosion occurred. READ MORE
October 27, 2017, Des Moines, IA – Iowa's largest pork producer is rapidly expanding, adding nearly 90,000 pigs at time when water quality issues have state and local leaders calling for a moratorium on industry expansion, says a grassroots activist group. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement says Iowa Select is adding at least 19 hog confinements and the Des Moines group wants the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to extend the permitting period to 90 days so residents and county supervisors can "review this onslaught of factory farm proposals.” READ MORE
October 6, 2017, Howard County, IA – A small group of people in Howard County is fighting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) by forming a covenant. Families in mostly Albion Township but also Forest City, Howard Center and Vernon Springs have signed the legal promise to each other that they and any future owners of their land will not allow a CAFO to be built on the property and will not allow liquid manure to be spread on those acres. READ MORE
September 7, 2017, Kingsley, IA – After a recent report of a manure spill from a sow facility in Plymouth County, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources found manure had reached a small creek about four miles northwest of Kingsley. The spill, which occurred over the weekend, came from a sow facility. It’s unknown how much manure spilled. The unnamed stream has low flows, is very small and there were no fish in it. Iowa DNR staff found low dissolved oxygen levels in the stream, but no evidence that the manure had reached Johns Creek about one mile downstream. Most of the manure was captured by a berm near the facility. Any manure from the tributary will be pumped up and land applied. Iowa DNR will continue to monitor the cleanup progress and consider appropriate enforcement action.
November 21, 2017, Abbotsford, WI – Dukestead Acres is no stranger to technology, using automated calf feeders, cow brushes and alley scrapers on their farm. More recently, the rural Abbotsford farm installed an automated bedding machine, one of the first in the U.S. The farm is a family-owned and -operated dairy that milks 390 cows twice a day. When the family decided to expand their barn earlier this year, they began looking at moving away from sand bedding. READ MORE
For decades, phosphorous has accumulated in Wisconsin soils. Though farmers have taken steps to reduce the quantity of the agricultural nutrient applied to and running off their fields, a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reveals that a “legacy” of abundant soil phosphorus in the Yahara watershed of Southern Wisconsin has a large, direct and long-lasting impact on water quality.
Ephrata, PA – Mark Mosemann has used half-a-dozen manure systems since he came back to his family’s dairy farm in 2000. There were the bad old days of daily hauling, which the Warfordsburg family accomplished without a skid loader. There was the new dairy complex with alley scrapers, then a dabble with sand bedding that got expensive, and finally a test of – and then wholesale shift to – separated manure solids. Mosemann is still looking at upgrades, including a cover for the manure pit. READ MORE
November 7, 2017, Marianna, FL – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam presented Cindale Farms of Jackson County and two other farms – those in Alachua and Hillsborough counties – with the state’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award on Nov. 1. The awards were among several in various categories given at a Florida Farm Bureau meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach. Florida Blue Farms Inc., of Alachua County, and Speedling Inc., of Hillsborough County were the other honorees in that category. Cindale, a dairy and creamery operation, was lauded for its innovative practices in protecting and preserving Florida’s resources. READ MORE
November 1, 2017, Dyersville, IA – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently received laboratory results confirming that ammonia toxicity in runoff from a dairy was responsible for an October fish kill in Dubuque County. Test results from water samples DNR collected Oct. 9 showed elevated levels of ammonia below a manure storage basin at the New Vienna operation. Additional test results ruled out other livestock facilities and a field where manure had recently been land applied. The DNR fisheries report shows 60,278 fish were killed along nearly seven miles of stream, including an unnamed tributary of Hickory Creek, Hickory Creek and Hewitt Creek. More than 42,000 were minnows, shiners, dace and chubs. The remainder included primarily suckers, darters and stonerollers. The DNR will seek fish restitution of $21,712.44, which includes a fish replacement value of $19,416.15 and the cost of the fisheries investigation. The investigation started Oct. 9 at Highway 136 bridge in Dyersville, following a report of dead fish in Hewitt Creek. DNR staff followed dead fish upstream until they found evidence of manure washed into a stream.
October 26, 2017, Oakland, MD – The University of Maryland Extension Office of Garrett County will partner with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Garrett Soil Conservation District to host three days of a free workshop and on-farm demonstrations on manure injection and nutrient management practices Nov. 7 to 9. The agenda will have participants traveling to Frostburg, Grantsville, Oakland, and Accident farms. Participants do not need to attend all three days, and are only required to register for the first day of demos, as a free lunch will be provided to those attending. Those in need of it will also receive continuing education units from the Maryland Nutrient Management Program. “Rising fertilizer costs require farmers to maximize the use of ‘free’ nutrients available in manure,” said a spokesperson. “Incorporating manure into the soil is an effective management strategy for keeping these valuable nutrients in the field.” This program offers practical strategies for injecting manure into the soil to allow incorporation while maintaining a no-tillage management system. Farmers will have an opportunity to talk to custom applicators, discuss costs, and learn about cost-share programs for manure injection and manure transport. The workshop will begin November 7 at Ganoe Farms, Frostburg, with registration, coffee, and doughnuts offered at 8:30 a.m. Demonstrations will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at Ganoe’s. The group will then travel to Delvin, Dale, and Wayne Mast’s farm in Grantsville, where a complimentary lunch will be provided at 11:30 a.m. Guest speakers Joe Bartenfelder, Maryland Agriculture Secretary, and Norm Astle, Maryland Cost-Share Programs, will be heard until approximately 2 p.m. The day will continue at Robert Bender’s Accident farm from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. with manure injection demonstrations. Those interested are asked to register no later than November 1 by calling the Garrett Soil Conservation District at 301-334-6951. Additional farm demonstrations will take place on Nov. 8, beginning at Randall Steyer’s farm in Oakland, and followed by demos at Nevin’s Sines’ farm in Oakland and Kenton Bender’s farm in Accident. The last day, November 9, will also offer farm demonstrations only at David Yoder’s farm and two Grantsville dairy farms, which are yet to be determined. Registration is not required for the November 8 and 9 farm demonstrations.
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 5, 2017, McGregor, IA – Area residents are concerned about how a 10,000-head cattle feedlot and biogas operation, currently under construction east of Monona, IA, could impact the Bloody Run Creek Watershed. Construction is currently underway on the 50-acre site on six open-front cattle barns, as well as a feed storage area, concrete transfer pits and an earthen liquid manure storage lagoon with a capacity of nearly 39 million gallons. Also included on the site will be four tanks for anaerobic digestion and methane production for scrubbed biogas. The manure from the 10,000 cattle at the site will be captured and, with the help of the anaerobic digesters, combined with waste feed products to produce natural gas. READ MORE
July 17, 2017, Ames, IA – You might wonder what dry weather and feedlot runoff would have in common. On the one hand, the recent spell of hot, dry summer weather has caused expanding areas of moderate drought and excessively dry soils in Iowa and Nebraska. But this spell of dry conditions also makes for an excellent time to maintain your feedlot runoff control system. Extended dry periods create the perfect opportunity to remove settled solids from your settling basin or other areas where manure solids collect during runoff events. Whether it’s a settling basin, a settling bench or terrace, or even the bottom end of feedlot pens, now is a great time to get out there with the loader, box scraper, or other equipment to remove those accumulated solids and dress up the area for the runoff that is sure to return. Land apply those solids if you have application areas available now, or stockpile them in a controlled area if they need to wait until after harvest for application. Make sure the stockpile area is either within the runoff control boundaries for your feedlot, or in an area that is protected from runoff and water flow when it rains. High and dry is the short description of a good stockpile location. While you’re removing separated solids, be sure to check the liquid outlet from the settling area. If you’re using a picket dam or perforated riser to control the outflow, make sure the openings are clean and in good condition. Remember, the purpose of the controlled outlet is to hold liquid in the settling area until solids can settle, and then slowly drain the settled effluent off to an area where it can soak into the ground. Too much opening can let liquids through before solids can settle. Plugged openings can prevent dewatering and drying of the solids to a consistency you can handle. While you’re tending to the settled solids removal, take the opportunity to evaluate the other parts of the system as well. Check the clean water diversion portions: rain gutters on buildings, clean water diversion terraces, and clean water tile drains. Then check your runoff controls beyond the settling area. If you pump your effluent to an application area, check the pump, controls and piping. If you let gravity do the work, follow the flow path down the hill from your settling area and see where it ends. If it ends on flat ground in a pasture, field, or treatment area, you’ll see a few more manure solids that settle and accumulate there, with no eroded gully beyond. If it ends in a waterway, ditch or stream, your manure could be causing negative impacts and putting your operation in regulatory and financial risk. Assessment tools and advice are available in print, online, and from experts who can help. Check out the resource links on the Small Feedlot & Dairy Operations website or contact your industry representatives or an Iowa State University Extension dairy, beef, or engineering field specialist. Kits are even available from selected County ISU Extension offices to help you test water quality. Managing manure runoff centers around more effectively collecting and storing manure, reducing the amount of clean water that mixes with manure, and capturing runoff so manure nutrients can be held and used as fertilizer. The good news is that each of these practices generates additional fertilizer value for your farm at the same time it lowers your risk exposure. So seize the opportunity to maintain your system and take some positive steps to put your manure where it pays.
June 20, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is seeking nominations for the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA). The ESA recognizes cattle producers whose natural resource stewardship practices contribute to the environment and enhance productivity and profitability. The ABP are asking producers to take this opportunity to share the unique environmental practices employed on their operation and to present the positive story about cattle producers' contribution to the environment. Nomination forms are available on the ABP website, from the ABP office or from any local delegate. All cattle producers are encouraged to either enter or nominate another producer who is taking strides towards sound environmental production practices. A team of judges made up of ABP delegates, the 2017 ESA winner and an industry associate will review the submissions and tour the nominated ranching operations. Each applicant will be scored on predetermined criteria unique to the practices they implement in their business. The winner will receive a commemorative gate sign, a video highlighting their ranching operation and an all-expenses paid trip from anywhere in Alberta to the 2017 ABP Annual General Meeting in Calgary, where the award will be presented at a formal banquet. The competition is open to all cattle producers. Deadline for nominations is July 15, 2017, and the winner will be announced December 2017. Contact the Alberta Beef Producers at 403-451-1183.
April 11, 2017, Dixon, IL — Taking safety precautions is vital for cattlemen working with barns that have pit manure storage. “There are many good reasons for using liquid manure systems,” said Ted Funk, professor emeritus of the University of Illinois. READ MORE
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
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.
The $3 million poultry manure-to-energy demonstration project recently installed in Maryland by Irish-based Biomass Heating Solutions Limited (BHSL) shows that its technology can produce heat and electricity from poultry litter generated by local farms, just not as easily, consistently, and cost-effectively as in Europe – yet.
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.
October 23, 2017, Richmond, VA – The poultry industry’s growing footprint on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is getting new scrutiny from regulators and activists after a head-turning decision by a state regulatory body to demand harsher punishment for pollution violations at a chicken-processing plant. The Virginia State Water Control Board, a citizen body appointed by the governor, this summer rejected state regulators’ recommended fines against a Tyson Foods facility that’s a hub for a growing number of chicken houses in Accomack County. By a vote of 4 to 1, the board decided in July that a $26,160 fine proposed by the Department of Environmental Quality was insufficient, given the history of violations at the plant. The board’s rare rejection of a consent order negotiated by the DEQ to settle a pollution violation heartened activists, who fear the poultry industry’s expansion on their narrow, low-lying stretch of the Delmarva Peninsula puts the Chesapeake Bay and their quality of life at risk. READ MORE
October 13, 2017, The Netherlands – Farmers in the Netherlands are suffering from an overflow of chicken manure contaminated with a European Union-banned insecticide, fipronil. Poultry farmers in the country can’t send the tainted manure to biomass power plants that convert the feces into electricity, as many typically do. They must send it to two incinerators equipped to eliminate the insecticide-contaminated feces, which can’t keep up with the demand to burn the chicken manure since August’s chicken egg scandal. The tainted manure has sat in barns and farms since that time. READ MORE
September 25, 2017, Tucker, GA – U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) is releasing a sixth video in a series highlighting environmental stewardship on poultry and egg farms. The video features one of USPOULTRY’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award winners, Bullard Farms in Stedman, N.C. Collins Bullard and his wife, Alison, own a 1,500-acre farm with eight turkey houses. They also raise pigs and grow corn, wheat, soybeans and hay. The Bullard’s grow 180,000 tom turkeys a year for Prestage Farms. All the litter produced by their turkeys are used on their crops. This has allowed the Bullards to increase profitability by eliminating the need for commercial fertilizer. They remove the litter after each flock and store the litter until it can be applied according to their nutrient management plan. Their storage facility is covered and off the ground to protect groundwater and prevent runoff of nutrients. The Bullards use a forced air compost facility that can hold 90,000 pounds of mortality at any given time. The use of GPS allows Bullard Farms to apply litter in specific areas where there is a need versus applying to the entire field. The farm has implemented a phosphorus-based nutrient management plan since they started raising turkeys in 2006. "My family has been farming for five generations, and a lot of changes have occurred over the years. Searching for new and better ways to farm has helped us to strive to use the best environmental management practices possible," said Collins Bullard. “USPOULTRY and our members know the significance of exemplary environmental stewardship. We are pleased to be able to provide this video series highlighting the environmental efforts of our family farmers,” commented Jerry Moye, retired president of Cobb-Vantress and USPOULTRY chairman. Bullard Farms was recognized for exemplary environmental stewardship by family farms engaged in poultry and egg production. Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award winners are rated in several categories, including dry litter or liquid manure management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques and participation in education or outreach programs. The video can be viewed on USPOULTRY’s YouTube channel.
November 21, 2017, Lowville, NY — A 32-year-old Lewis County man died after being pulled into a manure separator at an area dairy farm Monday morning. State police said the man was tending to a large integrity manure separator at the farm when his head became trapped by a roller inside the machine. READ MORE
November 20, 2017, Saskatoon, Sask – Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatchewan is offering a four-hour Hydrogen Sulfide Awareness Training Workshop for anyone working in an intensive livestock operation or anyone involved with the handling of liquid manure, specifically employees and owner-operators in the swine, dairy and liquid manure transportation industries. The benefits of attending the workshop include increased workplace safety by increasing awareness of hydrogen sulfide, knowledge on the latest information regarding strategies to reduce hydrogen sulfide exposure, and the opportunity to share hydrogen sulfide related experiences that may help save lives. To find out more information, visit here: http://www.prairieswine.com/training/h2s-awareness-training/ .
November 17, 2017, De Forest, WI – As farmers across the state clear their corn and soybean fields, those with livestock may list the next job on their “to-do” list as spreading manure. For livestock operations with larger numbers of animals, that fall project may include liquid manure. Spreading those liquid nutrients effectively and efficiently should be done with safety in mind says one man who has made manure spreading and farm safety his life’s work. Rick Martens, executive director of the Minnesota Custom Applicators Association travels the country trying to help farmers and hired manure applicators change their perspective on safety. He’s got nearly 35 years experience in the business – his family’s business is Martens Manurigation — and he’s learned a thing or two he wants others to be aware of. READ MORE
November 14, 2017 – Dozens of livestock farmers in the Netherlands are breaking the rules for the disposal of surplus manure, according to an investigation by the NRC Handelsblad, an evening newspaper based in Amsterdam. Farmers are forging their accounts, illegally trading their manure or dumping more on their land than permitted by law, while transport companies are fiddling lorry weights and making unrecorded trips to dump manure at night, the paper said. In total, the NRC found that 36 of the 56 manure processing and distribution companies in the two regions had been fined for fraud, or suspected of fraud, in what the paper calls the “manure conspiracy.” READ MORE
November 10, 2017, Madison, WI – A study of Wisconsin land sales found farmland in some counties is worth more if it's closer to a concentrated animal feeding operation, also known as CAFOs. The analysis came out of a larger project to combine statewide data on land use, land sales and soil survey data, said Simon Jette-Nantel, farm management specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Extension. READ MORE
November 7, 2017 – A new funding program being delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) aims to improve soil health through investments in nutrient application equipment. With 60 percent cost-share support, up to a maximum of $25,000 per business, this is a significant opportunity for Ontario’s nutrient applicators. The Manure and Biosolids Management Program – available to all licensed custom applicators in Ontario – seeks to enhance soil health across the province. Adding organic matter to the soil is a key piece of building soil health, particularly when applied using precise and innovative spreading techniques. “It’s the multiplier effect that is so significant within the Manure and Biosolids Management Program,” said Andrew Graham, executive director of the OSCIA. “Each implemented best management practice can benefit soil health on many farm properties. The potential impacts are exponential.” The Manure and Biosolids Management Program encourages the use of best management practices (BMPs) that enhance soil health, improve application accuracy to reduce phosphorus loss from the field edge, and protect water quality. Improving soil health is also an important part of the agri-food industry’s work to mitigate climate change. Funding is available to customize spreading equipment to allow in-crop application, or to allow slurry seeding of cover crops. There is also an innovative approaches BMP that allows businesses to invest in up-and-coming technology that is not yet available in Ontario. “There are new ideas coming forward from around the world for precision manure application and data management,” says Mack Emiry, president of OSCIA. “The innovative approaches BMP encourages businesses to invest in these technologies, raising the bar for nutrient management here in Ontario.” Funding for the Manure and Biosolids Management Program is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Eligible applicants must have an up-to-date Nutrient Application Technician Licence and/or an up-to-date Prescribed Materials Application Business Licence. Applications can be made immediately. Projects must be complete, and claims submitted by January 15, 2018.
Manure, biosolids management program launched in OntarioNovember 7, 2017 – A new funding program being delivered…
Research shows WI farmland close to CAFOs worth moreNovember 10, 2017, Madison, WI – A study of Wisconsin…
Dairy operation wins FL award for environmental leadershipNovember 7, 2017, Marianna, FL – Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam…
The manure mob: Dutch farmers commit major fraud, says reportNovember 14, 2017 – Dozens of livestock farmers in the…
Next Generation Manure Management Practices WebinarFri Dec 15, 2017 @ 2:30PM - 03:30PM
South Dakota Pork CongressWed Jan 10, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Minnesota Pork CongressTue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Value of Biogas WestTue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin Annual MeetingThu Jan 18, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Iowa Pork CongressWed Jan 24, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM