Dairy
Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland. More than one-third of all the cows in U.S. live on approximately 3,000 farms in Wisconsin.
May 2, 2017, Tulare, CA – Central Valley dairymen in California prepare an annual report – often enormous – for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Annual reports contain information on nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) applications to cropland. If this information is accurate, it can help improve both crop and manure management on the dairy. How do you know if your report is accurate?

Often, the nutrient of primary concern is N. Dairy producers want to ensure that as much manure N as possible is used by crops. Otherwise, crop growth may be stunted and manure N can end up polluting air or water resources. However, it is difficult to tell if N application numbers make sense, because the amount of N lost to the air varies. You can perform a simple check with the manure P numbers in your annual report to see if your manure N numbers are accurate.

You want to check that most of the P excreted by the herd is recovered in managed manure. Because P is not lost to the air, all the excreted P should leave the production area in exported or land-applied manure. Look through your last annual report. First, locate the values that estimate the P excretion in your herd. Compare the P excretion values with the amount of P removed from the production area in liquid or solid manure (applied to cropland or manifested off-site). Expect P in managed manure to be around 100 percent of excreted P because P is stable during manure storage.

This calculation was performed with the numbers in the 2012 annual reports of 60 Central Valley dairies. The results are shown in Figure 1, with the amount of P recovered in exported or land-applied manure presented as a percent of the nutrient excreted. Many dairies did not hit their recovery target for P. In many cases, the recovery percent is far above or below the target. This suggests that some manure – and thus the nutrients it contains – is not being accurately accounted for.

Things to consider if your own calculations for P recovery are far above or below 100 percent:
  • Make sure all numbers (herd population and manure data) are entered correctly in the annual report. It is easy to put a decimal point in the wrong place or select the wrong unit.
  • Check all your lab reports for results that look different or odd.
  • Make sure all manure exports and application events are entered.
  • Evaluate how manure samples were collected. A composite of many grab samples will better represent your solid manure and provide more representative data.
  • Evaluate your sample preservation methods (that samples are kept cold) and that samples are delivered quickly to the lab.
  • Be sure scales and flow meters are properly installed and calibrated to measure the amount of manure applied or sold.
  • Identify if there is any stockpiled manure retained at the dairy.
  • Keep your agronomist informed of any modifications you identify to improve your P recovery data. This may require that your nutrient budget be modified. Ultimately, good P recovery data is useful to you in accounting for P applications to your crops.
April 25, 2017, Sacramento, CA – The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued an administrative civil liability penalty of $75,600 against a Visalia-area dairy for failing to file its 2015 annual report on the impacts of its dairy operations on water quality. The board also adopted a cease and desist order against the operation for failure to comply with requirements set forth in the Dairy General Order.

The cease and desist order requires the owners to resume compliance with all the requirements of the Dairy General Order, including filing annual reports, or face the possibility of additional civil penalties and/or judicial enforcement from the California Office of the Attorney General.

"Fully complying with all requirements of the Dairy General Order is needed to protect water quality," said Clay Rodgers, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. "Annual reports are a vital component of the Dairy General Order because they inform the board about manure handling activities at dairies, and nutrient management planning on dairy cropland."

"It is critical that dairies adequately implement the requirements of the Dairy General Order including submitting annual reports that show they are taking the steps necessary to protect water quality. In assessing the penalty and adopting the cease and desist order, our board is recognizing a discharger's responsibility to comply with orders issued by our board, including submitting required documents."

According to the CVRWQCB, the owners of the dairy have failed to file annual reports required by dairies regulated under the Dairy General Order since 2009. Further site inspections have determined the owners have failed to implement many other requirements of the Dairy General Order.

The Dairy General Order, first adopted by the Central Valley Water Board in 2007 and revised in 2013, requires dairies to handle waste in ways that preserve and protect water quality. The order contains a number of requirements, including standards for manure and dairy wastewater storage, and criteria for the application of manure and dairy wastewater to cropland. The order also contains reporting requirements for regulated dairies, including the submission of annual reports, submission of a waste management plan, implementation of a nutrient management plan, and implementation of groundwater monitoring. Failure to submit any of the required reports is a violation of the order.
April 18, 2017, Kansas City, MO – Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Vanguard Renewables recently announced a strategic partnership to help bring anaerobic digestion technology to more farms across the country.

April 13, 2017, Yakima, WA – A Lower Valley dairy is being sued over claims that it has violated the federal Clean Water Act for years, including contributing to the impact of a manure-related flood in the Outlook area earlier this year.

April 5, 2017, Hartford, CT – Connecticut’s dairy farmers could soon become the newest alternative energy producers, thanks to an innovative “Cow Power” initiative promoted by State Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr., co-chair of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee.

Passing unanimously out of the committee, the Cow Power bill – SB 999 – promotes the use of cow manure as a renewable energy source through the process of anaerobic digestion. The bill also creates an easier, cheaper and faster state and local permitting process for farmers who are interested in adopting this technology.

“‘Cow Power’ is a term for the conversion of cow manure into electricity, enabling farmers to make money by adding a new, desperately-needed source of farm revenue,” said Senator Kennedy. “Instead of storing tons of manure in open cesspools that contaminate the water supply and release tons of climate-destroying methane into the atmosphere, farmers can place the animal waste in an anaerobic digester located on their property.”

An anaerobic digester is a large metal tank that uses bacteria to convert manure and food waste into valuable biogas, which, in turn, provides fuel to a generator that produces electricity that can be used by the farmers or sold on the power grid through virtual net metering. This can allow farmers to assign surplus energy production from their generator to other metered accounts at retail, not lower wholesale, prices.

“Farm-based anaerobic digesters now number over 250 nationwide and have already become significant sources of electricity in places such as Lancaster County, PA, and Vermont,” said Senator Kennedy. “In addition to becoming a valuable and diversified source of electricity, anaerobic digesters solve many other problems, such as eliminating farm odor, reducing manure-based water pollution, and creating a by-product that is non-toxic and pathogen-free that can be used or sold as animal bedding or fertilizer. We need to cut through the red tape, streamlining and simplifying Connecticut’s permitting process to accelerate this technology and save our farms.”

SB 999, which will initially establish a pilot program for three farms in Connecticut, is welcome news for Connecticut’s farmers. The state’s 111 registered dairy farms are seeking new revenue sources to preserve their farms as they struggle to compete with much larger dairy operations in the Midwest, where labor and land costs are cheaper.

“This is a natural process that kills pathogens, recycles nutrients, and more,” said Henry Talmage, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau, at the public hearing for SB 999. “In addition to generating electricity, installing agricultural anaerobic digesters destroys methane and reduces overall carbon emissions, making it outperform other Zero-Rec emitting technologies.”

The goal of the pilot program is also to identify the best technologies, examine economic risks, and modernize Connecticut’s future digester permitting pathway.

Now that SB 999 has passed the Environment Committee, it moves to the floor of the state senate for further action.

April 4, 2017, Kewaunee County, WI – A scientist who's looked into widespread well contamination in Kewaunee County says he's now urging owners of tainted wells to find another water source.

U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Mark Borchardt recently published findings that indicate cow manure is the leading cause of groundwater pollution in Kewaunee County. But he found that human waste from sanitary systems is spoiling drinking water there, too. READ MORE

April 3, 2017, Albany, NY – Cows, whose methane-emitting flatulence has been cited as a culprit in global warming, now are being blamed, along with New York’s State Department of Environmental Conservation, for contaminating the state’s water supply with manure.

Riverkeeper and four other groups, including fly fishers and the Sierra Club, sued the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany County Supreme Court, demanding it strengthen a general water permit for large farm operations to bring it into compliance with the Clean Water Act. READ MORE

March 31, 2017, Roanoke, VA – State environmental regulators have cited a dairy farming operation in Franklin County for a manure spill into a creek that feeds into the Roanoke River basin.

The dairy operation agreed to pay a $3,250 fine in response to violations of the State Water Control Law at the farm.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality responded in September 2015 to a report of a manure spill in Maggodee Creek. The spill was traced back to the operation, where a concrete manure impoundment had a crack in it. READ MORE

March 29, 2017, Rock Falls, WI – Dunn County in Wisconsin made state history March 28 when the first public hearing ever was held for a dairy operation seeking to add farm fields to its nutrient management plan.

Cranberry Creek Dairy in the town of Rock Creek wants to add 57 fields totaling about 1,414 acres to its nutrient management plan, which has a total of 5,624 acres. The majority of the acres are in Dunn County, with about 1,961 acres in Eau Claire County and four fields in Pepin County. READ MORE

March 29, 2017, Manitowoc, WI – At a recent forum on soil health and custom crops, two custom manure applicators who serve farms in east central Wisconsin described some of the practices designed to limit soil disturbance during the process.

Jesse Dvorachek, based near Forest Junction in Calumet County, reported that each of his two crews, using a total of 10 to 20 trucks, apply about 200 million gallons of liquid manure per year on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) farms. READ MORE

March 28, 2017, Madison, WI – Dairy and livestock producers in Wisconsin who spread manure on their own land will need to be aware of some new changes taking effect next year.

If there is one thing that California dairies know a lot about, it’s regulations.

March 20, 2017, Calgary, Alta – Livestock Water Recycling, in partnership with the Birss Research Group from the University of Calgary, has been named to a short list of finalists to win Stage One of the George Barley Water Prize.

LWR’s innovation team’s submission included the Waterway Nanoshield solution that combines the water recycling ability of the LWR system with a patented technology developed at the University of Calgary.

The George Barley Water Prize is a competition that will advance viable technologies through stages over the course of four years, awarding cash prizes along the way, and ultimately crowning one phosphorus removal solution with a $10 million grand prize in 2020.

Florida dairy farmers have a vested interest in protecting wetlands, eco-diversity and other natural resources. For centuries, they have used traditional methods of manure management, and today, they are excited about evolving technology that will help them continue to reduce their environmental footprint.

The competition brings a variety of phosphorus solutions to Florida where they are facing a major a water crisis. In recent years, algae blooms have become commonplace in Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in the state and the heart of the Central Everglades. One out of every three Floridians, an estimated 8 million people, relies on the Everglades for their water supply.

According to NASA, the algae bloom that grew last spring covered roughly 33 square miles of the lake, and was blamed for affecting water quality downstream all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

With more than 25 years experience protecting fresh bodies of water around the world, the Innovation Team at LWR is excited to be a part of finding a solution for Florida.

“Bringing our technology to the Everglades is very important to us.” says Charles Zhang, team lead on the project. “Florida is home to more than 130 dairy farms that are primarily owned and operated by second and third-generation farmers. We want to offer them a solution that will keep Florida dairy farmers farming sustainably for generations to come.”

LWR’s Waterway Nanoshield solution was among 77 global solutions that entered Stage One of the competition.

The Everglades Foundation will host LWR, along with the other top 15 competitors on World Water Day, March 22, in West Palm Beach, Florida, for the awarding of the $25,000 winner of Stage One.

March 17, 2017, Sioux Falls, SD – It’s generally not recommended to spread manure on frozen, snow-covered fields, but there are certain guidelines producers should follow when storage pits are reaching capacity and applying manure in the winter is necessary.

A recent study by a South Dakota State University graduate student looked at different methods of applying solid manure in winter months and their effects on water quality. READ MORE

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