Dairy
For years, Fair Oaks, Ind.-based Prairie’s Edge Dairy Farms, LLC, had been trying to find the right technology to remove phosphorus from its manure. Little did Carl Ramsey, farm manager, know that search would lead to a new manure-based fertilizer.
One back surgery and 30 years later, Lee Kinnard, co-owner of Kinnard Farms in Wisconsin, is starting to believe that the dairy has finally put all the pieces in place to streamline recycling of manure-laden bedding sand from their barns.
September 20, 2017, Meadville, PA – A dairy that was the subject of an investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in May is being sued for an unspecified amount in court in connection to an alleged fish kill at a nearby property.

A civil suit was recently filed on behalf of a couple and their home-based business, a pet food manufacturer specializing in rabbit meat. The suit alleges the dairy is "engaged in the business of operating a concentrated animal feed operation (CAFO) and such operation generates silage, manure and other waste products." READ MORE
September 11, 2017, Lynden, WA – Washington State’s watersheds scored a win in late August as agricultural waste company, Regenis, installed the first phosphorous recovery system west of the Cascades at Edaleen Dairy in Lynden, WA.

The fine solids separation system – called a Dissolved Air Floatation (DAF) unit – removes solids in manure wastewater through a system that injects the tank with air bubbles and organic polymer, causing the solids to float to the surface where they can be skimmed off, dewatered, and stored. Meanwhile, the remaining wastewater can more efficiently be applied to crops, allowing dairies to better manage their nutrient levels as they irrigate their fields.

With the DAF, a dairy can remove 80 to 90 percent of the phosphorous and 30 percent of the nitrogen in the wastewater, according to Dr. Craig Frear, Regenis’ director of research.

“That translates into a host of economic and environmental benefits,” he said. “After the solids are dewatered, you have natural fertilizer containing two of the most important nutrients for healthy crops along with several micronutrients. Not only is this organic fertilizer less expensive for dairies to transport to their fields, thereby saving fuel, but it also saves them the costs of importing new sources of chemical based phosphorous fertilizers which are unsustainable. These solids can also create a new revenue stream for dairies by selling them to neighboring farms, which creates an exponential benefit for the local environment.”

“We invested in the DAF because the future of the dairy industry is evolving, and the needle is moving towards nutrient management systems as a key element in creating a closed loop, sustainable farm where nothing goes to waste, and we steward the land with utmost care so it can feed future generations,” said Mitch Moorlag with Edaleen Dairy. “In the long run, this helps make dairies like ours more competitive, which is a win for consumers who want to support local agricultural producers and the jobs they create in smaller communities.”

The DAF unit was funded in part by a matching grant from Washington state’s Clean Energy Fund in 2016 as part of an emphasis on creating a more vibrant clean energy economy and a healthy environment throughout the state. It’s the second fine solids phosphorous separating system in Washington state (both installed by Regenis) and is one of only a handful in North America.

“Investments from our Clean Energy Fund are accelerating the pace of innovation and opening new markets for carbon reduction technologies in Washington’s rural agricultural communities,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “It’s exciting to see Regenis and Edaleen Dairy in Whatcom County lead the way in helping the dairy industry address waste management challenges by turning captured nutrients into value-added fertilizer products.”

Regenis has now installed four nutrient recovery systems on dairy farms, including the two phosphorous systems and two others designed to strip nitrogen in the form of ammonia from animal wastewater.
September 5, 2017, Watkinsville, GA – Melony Wilson-Cowart, animal waste specialist with the University of Georgia, sent out an alert Sept 5 warning Georgia CAFO operators about the possible impacts from Hurricane Irma.

“As you are well aware, hurricanes can produce a lot of rain over a short period of time so now is the time to check your lagoon levels,” she said. “If you expect you are near the path of this hurricane, lower your lagoons to the stop pumping levels, which can be found in your nutrient management plan. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Just always remember safety comes first so be careful out there.”

She also forwarded an alert from the University of Georgia’s agriculture climatologist, Pam Knox, who has been watching the progress of Hurricane Irma.

“If you are in south Georgia, you could see impacts from the storm as early as Saturday [Sept 9], although most likely you will not see much until Sunday [Sept 10] morning,” Knox said. “The major impacts from the storm in Georgia are likely to be strong winds, locally heavy rains and potential storm surge and high waves if you are along the coast. Some tornadoes are also possible. Because the storm is so powerful, the strong winds and rain could spread out a long way from the center of the storm, so do not let down your guard if the center does not come close to you.”

“With wet soils and trees that have been stressed from droughts in previous years, I expect a lot of trees to fall, cutting electrical power to many locations if the storm does not weaken as it moves up from Florida.”

“Since power may be out, it would be wise to make sure you have gas and cash for several days just as a precaution,” Knox stated. “Because Irma is moving along at a pretty good clip, we do not expect to see the amount of rain that Texas received from Harvey, but local areas could see some fresh-water flooding. Because of that, agricultural producers may wish to move machinery and livestock to higher terrain.”

Knox will be posting updates on her blog [http://blog.extension.uga.edu/climate] as well as on Facebook at SEAgClimate and on Twitter at @SE_AgClimate through the week.

August 10, 2017, Seneca Falls, NY – New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball recently congratulated Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm, located in Wyoming County, as the recipient of the 2017 Agricultural Environmental Management Award.

Each year, the award honors the outstanding efforts of a New York State farm to protect and preserve soil and water quality.

“Congratulations to the Dueppengiesser Farm on receiving the Agricultural Environmental Management Award,” said Ball. “This family-run farm has long worked with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District to ensure they are taking the steps to take care of the environment while increasing the profitability of their operation.”

Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm was recognized, along with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, during a ceremony at the Empire Farm Days, being held in Seneca Falls. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Empire State Potato Growers, and the American Agriculturist Magazine presented the award to the family for their implementation of conservation best management practices that benefit the environment and protect the community.

“At Dueppengisser Dairy, we have always been aware of the need for environmental conservation, and we strive to implement practices that will protect our lands for the future,” said Mike Dueppengiesser, owner of Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm. “Best management practices are a priority for our farm business, and we do our best to keep up with latest technology in conservation efforts such as implementing the use of cover crops, GPS technology, zone tillage and dragline systems. Working closely with our employees, plus collaboration with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, strengthens our environmental stewardship efforts.”

Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm is a third-generation family farm that manages nearly 2,000 milking cows and young stock and operates more than 2,000 acres of cropland, producing corn, alfalfa and wheat. As early adopters of the principles of agricultural environment management, the family has implemented several practices, such as reduced tillage, use of cover crops, and nutrient management, to protect soil and water quality. The family is also very active in the community, hosting several agricultural education programs on their farm, including the Farm Bureau School Education Program, Agri-Palooza and the Western New York Soil Health Field Day.

The farm has worked closely with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, which provides technical assistance to advance agricultural environmental management practices within the county. The Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District has a very active agricultural environmental management program that has assisted over 361 farms since its inception. Their AEM Strategic Plan focuses on nutrient management and reducing cropland erosion, and Dueppengiesser Dairy Company has implemented various practices to address these issues that will improve soil health and protect water quality.    

“The Dueppengeiser family has been a pleasure to work with over the years as they have proactively undergone numerous implementation projects related to improving conservation on their farm, along with hosting many educational outreach programs on their dairy, such as soil health workshops, and Wyoming County’s Agri-Palooza event,” said Greg McKurth, Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District manager. “I am proud of the Wyoming County farms for working collectively and progressively with our district staff to be good stewards of the land.”

The annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award is jointly sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturalist Magazine, and the Empire State Potato Growers. Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state.
August 9, 2017, Green Bay, WI – Manure runoff from a dairy farm in Manitowoc County is affecting water quality in Pine Creek as it flows through the town of Newton, about five miles south of Manitowoc.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources responded August 7 to a complaint about a potential spill in the creek, which flows into Lake Michigan. The amount of runoff entering the stream is unknown and the impacts downriver are still being investigated at this time. The dairy is working with DNR staff to address the issue and the source from the manure pit has been controlled. Agriculture specialists with the DNR will continue to monitor water quality in the creek.

August 4, 2017, Green Bay, WI – Standing up for hundreds of dairy farmers across Wisconsin, the Dairy Business Association is demanding that the state rein in the Department of Natural Resources for overreaching its legal authority on key regulations.

The dairy group recently filed a lawsuit against the DNR that centers on how the agency implements new regulations without going through an approval process required by state law.

The lawsuit deals specifically with one example of this pattern of unlawful behavior: changes to how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage or calf hutch areas. Those changes, in which the DNR abruptly abandoned its own earlier directives, are causing costly fixes and still more uncertainty for farmers.

“We’re not looking for a free pass on regulations. We’re asking the DNR to follow the rules,” said Mike North, president of the association. “The agency clearly is overstepping its legal boundaries on this and other issues.”

For years, the DNR encouraged farmers to build what are called vegetative treatment areas (VTAs) where the water is safely and naturally treated to prevent runoff and protect water quality. In 2016, the agency suddenly did an about-face and began requiring farmers to collect all the water and add it to manure pits for spreading on fields.

The move circumvented Act 21, which requires agencies to follow a specific method of rulemaking based on public transparency and lawmaker oversight. The lawsuit seeks to stop DNR’s ongoing efforts to skirt the formal rulemaking process.

“Farmers are not above the law. The Department of Natural Resources shouldn’t be either,” North said.

The reversal on VTAs is causing farmers to spend millions of dollars on new storage lagoons and calf hutch improvements, creating confusion and uncertainty, and actually increasing the risk of pollution, he said.

“The DNR – unfairly, unnecessarily and illegally – is putting the livelihoods of dairy farm families at risk,” he said. “They need to be treated fairly and provided with predictability in order to run their businesses successfully.”

The lawsuit also addresses a farm’s duty to apply for a permit. Despite a state law that binds the DNR to federal standards, the DNR has incorrectly adopted its own contradictory requirement. North said the hope is the lawsuit will result in a harmonization of state and federal law, while still providing for environmental oversight of farms.

“Dairy farmers are committed to doing the right thing for their cows, their communities and the environment,” he said. “Now, we need the DNR to do the right thing in regulating our farms.”

“This lawsuit is about more than VTAs and calf-hutches,” North said. “It is about preventing the DNR from ignoring the law.”

“And this affects more than farmers,” he said. “Many businesses and others who deal with the DNR are frustrated as well. All of us – the public – should be concerned when a state agency exceeds its authority. There is a tremendous amount at stake.”
August 1, 2017, Steven’s Point, WI – A coalition of grassroots environmental groups is calling for a statewide moratorium on new and expanding CAFO permits in Wisconsin.

Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network recently forwarded a letter to the Wisconsin State Farmer urging state legislators to “press the pause button” on new and expanding CAFOs in Wisconsin and put public health and safety before an “open for business” mantra. READ MORE
July 21, 2017, Washington - The Washington State Department of Agriculture has ended its investigation into the release of fecal coliform-laced water that flooded a Yakima County community last winter, recommending that a dairy block off a manure compost pile or move it to higher ground.

Snipes Mountain Dairy was not fined or ordered to take action, but WSDA will inspect the farm in the fall, department spokesman Hector Castro said.

If the dairy doesn't respond to WSDA's concerns, the department could refer the case to the Department of Ecology, which also has jurisdiction over the dairy.

The dairy also could face more severe penalties by WSDA if it discharges polluted water again. "It certainly would be a factor," Castro said.

WSDA's notice to Snipes dairy stems from a March 1 flood that actually began on another farm.

Melting snow breached a berm around a field and flowed onto Snipes dairy. The floodwater wasn't polluted until it washed into the pile of manure, according to WSDA's investigation. The contaminated water eventually surrounded several homes a half mile away in Outlook. READ MORE 
July 20, 2017 - Take a tour of the McCormick Farms Reclamation System. This video demonstates how the McCormick Farm is able to clean barns and recycle the sands and separate the solids from the liquids in order to recycle all the bedding.

McCormick Farms values sustainable development, thus have an automated system integrated directly in the farm to keep the cows clean and reuse and recycle wastes.

Cows currently are all bedded with sand, so it is very important for the cows well-being that their bedding is kept dry. For more information, watch the video above!
July 18, 2017, Freedom, WI - A manure spill at a 950-cow dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin ran into a local creek that feeds into the Fox River.

The spill was reported on Monday and a temporary clay dam has been installed to contain the runoff.

An agricultural runoff specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it's not known how much manure entered Dutchman's Creek located outside of Freedom, southwest of Green Bay.

Ben Uvaas said the dairy farm responsible reported at least 20,000 gallons of manure were released from a holding pit.

"The farm estimates 20,000 gallons was lost from the pit," Uvaas said. "So out of that a fraction, a percentage would have gotten to Dutchman's Creek. That's probably the best estimate we're ever going to have for this."

Uvaas said the farm worked quickly to contain the spill by having a contractor build a clay berm.

"It's fairly water tight. Those are built up perpendicular to the flow in the creek kind of like a 'mini dam,'" Uvaas said. "And as that water fills up behind the berm, it becomes deep enough where equipment like a septic truck or vacuum truck can reach in there with a hose and collect that water."

Uvaas doesn't have authorization to issue fines for spills, but violations can be referred to the state Department of Justice.
June 22, Wiota, WI — As farms have gotten larger and the equipment and storage facilities necessary to accommodate that growth have gotten bigger with them, the risk of injury and death on those farms has also increased.

About 75 emergency response personnel and farmers gathered June 12 at Cottonwood Dairy Farm just outside Wiota for a training session designed to help them understand the hazards of manure storage and handling systems. The workshop focused primarily on confined space and manure as safety procedures.

Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Madison/​Extension agriculture safety specialist, and Jeff Nelson, UW-Madison machinery specialist and volunteer firefighter, took participants to various spots on the farm to see the farm's manure pits and associated equipment during the training session.

They talked about equipment that is safe to use in confined spaces, such as gas monitors and ventilation equipment, and fall protection devices. READ MORE
June 13, 2017, Idaho - Agricultural production in the western U.S. is an important part of the global food supply. However, due to concerns over impacts from agricultural greenhouse gasses on the global climate, there is a need to understand the effect of nitrogen source on emissions from cropping systems in semiarid environments.

In a paper recently published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, researchers report nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4) emissions from a dairy forage rotation (silage corn-barley-alfalfa) in south-central Idaho that received various nitrogen sources, including granular urea, an enhanced-efficiency fertilizer (SuperU), dairy manure, or composted dairy manure. READ MORE
June 5, 2017, PA - Pennsylvania is offering a limited number of $1,000 grants to dairy farmers to help pay for the cost of developing plans to meet baseline agricultural compliance.

The grants can be used to offset some of the costs of preparing Nutrient Management, Manure Management and Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control Plans. Time is of the essence, however, because grant money must be spent by June 30.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), those with 1,000 or more animal units, already must have Nutrient Management Plans in order to operate. But all Pennsylvania livestock farms, regardless of size, must have Manure Management and Agriculture Erosion and Sediment Control plans.

In fact, the requirement for a Manure Management Plan has been on the books since 1972.

Having basic manure management plans in place has been an expectation for decades. However, inspections are now occurring in Pennsylvania. READ MORE
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