Pilgrim's Pride - second-largest chicken producer in the world – will face a shareholder resolution calling on the company to curb water pollution from its operations and supply chain. The demand for action comes after the company settled a citizens' suit from Environment America for $1.43 million for dumping toxic wastewater into Florida's Suwannee River."Pollution should not be a matter of pride for Pilgrims," said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America. "Will Pilgrim's Pride clean up its coop or chicken out on its responsibility to stop fouling America's waterways?"Pilgrim's Pride operations and supply chain, which processes roughly 37 million birds per week, is responsible for significant water pollution in several states, including Texas, Florida, and Virginia. In addition to millions of pounds of manure and runoff from feed production, the company's own processing plants dump pollution directly into our rivers and streams. In 2014 alone, Pilgrim's Pride facilities dumped more than half a million pounds of toxic pollutants into U.S. waterways, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory.Investors are citing this track-record of pollution as they urge Pilgrims to adopt a corporate policy to reduce its water pollution at the shareholder meeting in Greeley, Colorado. Pilgrim's Pride is owned by the Brazil-based meat conglomerate JBS, which controls a majority of shares that will vote on resolutions at the meeting. The water pollution footprint of Pilgrims Pride and JBS combined included more than 45 million tons of manure (in 2015) and 37 million pounds of toxic discharges to waterways (from 2010-2014)."Pilgrim's Pride has a long and well-documented record of water pollution that has resulted in record fines, costly restitution of rivers and streams and negative press that has seriously compromised the brand's image," said Anna Falkenberg, representative of the Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust, the lead filer of the shareholder proposal. "Of even greater concern is the public health risk created by the company's systematic dumping of dangerous contaminants and its regular fouling of local waterways threatening communities' human right to water. Had a comprehensive water stewardship policy been adopted much earlier as shareholders have been recommending, these financial and reputational challenges could have been avoided."Last year, Pilgrim's Pride agreed to pay $1.43 million to settle a case brought by Environment America's state affiliate in Florida, which alleged 1,377 days of Clean Water Act violations since 2012, all from discharging wastewater into the river that exceeds pollution standards by as much as triple the legal limits.
Hiawatha, KS – AgJunction, Inc., a global leader in advanced guidance and autosteering, recently announced the opening of the www.HandsFreeFarm.com online store to bring low-cost, simple-to-use precision agriculture solutions direct to all farmers.To launch the online store, AgJunction introduced RANGER, precision farming made simple with an easy-to-install and use guidance system for under a thousand dollars."The launch of our Hands-Free Farm online store is an exciting milestone for AgJunction as we continue to expand our vision to bring hands-free farming to every farmer," said Dave Vaughn, AgJunction president and chief executive officer. "Critical to our vision is the need to change both the method of getting product to the farmer and the level of complexity in installation and use of precision ag equipment."With the introduction of HandsFreeFarm.com, a new online buying experience has been created to sell direct to all American farmers. Customers will find the easy-to-use products, affordable prices, simple purchasing, and always accessible support that they desire, but have never had, for precision agriculture solutions.Hands-free farming represents the precision guidance, positioning, autosteering and machine control that is the foundation of any precision agriculture solution. Until now, products for hands-free farming have been sold almost universally through dealers who are best suited to support the expensive purchasing decisions, complex installation, and extensive training required for the current offerings in the market. The cost, complexity, and cumbersome purchasing process limits the reach of hands-free farming to only the largest farms despite evidence that every farmer can benefit."We are commited to bringing the benefits of precision ag to all farmers." Vaughn continued, "The HandsFreeFarm.com store is a key step in providing all farmers easy to use, low cost solutions they can easily purchase and install themselves without having to leave the farm."RANGER, an easy to use, complete GPS guidance solution priced at only $995, is the first product in the HandsFreeFarm.com online store. RANGER is ready to use right out of the box, with everything included, installs in minutes and is so simple to use customers can start farming with precision right away.The intuitive, patented steering guide shows visual cues in advance affording farmers the time to focus on farming instead of staring at a map. The system provides the essential accuracy for spraying, spreading, tilling and planting crops like soybeans and supports both straight line and free-form contours useful for terraces and irregular fields. RANGER provides farmers the flexibility to leave the field and return precisely where they left off and gives the option to share GPS location data with implements and yield monitors.Farming is a legacy to be cherished and, hopefully, passed on to the next generation. The www.HandsFreeFarm.com online store has been created to increase access to precision agriculture to ensure that every farmer can prosper through the benefits of hands-free farming.
November 29, 2017, Tampa, FL – MagneGas Corporation, a clean technology company in the renewable resources and environmental solutions industries, recently announced it has formally launched a U.S. Department of Agriculture sterilization pilot program at a dairy farm based in Bowling Green, FL. The primary purpose of the pilot is to evaluate the efficacy of the MagneGas patented plasma arc sterilization process for cow manure. The pilot is jointly funded by the USDA through a $432,000 USDA grant and provides MagneGas Corporation a unique opportunity to further validate the sterilization process. MagneGas previously conducted similar pilot programs for the hog industry in Indiana in 2016. The data gathered from that program was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA for review. The current grant was a direct result of the prior pilot study. The company believes that with the additional data gathered as a result of the current pilot in Florida, it will be in a position to move ahead with the broader commercialization of its sterilization process within the agricultural industry. "Our USDA pilot program is a major milestone in the progression of our sterilization business and the culmination of many years of hard work and engineering," said Ermanno Santilli, CEO of MagneGas Corporation. "Sterilization has been a core focus for the MagneGas technology since our formation. The USDA pilot further validates the progress we are making, and we believe it will serve as a key catalyst for market acceptance in the agricultural industry and a major financial opportunity for MagneGas. We are working diligently towards completing the setup of this USDA pilot for the dairy industry and, at the same time, are working towards establishing a commercialized pilot in North Carolina to service the hog industry. We also remain on track to launch our commercial program for the sterilization of leachates in landfills with our Italian partners in early 2018." "We are very pleased to take these next steps with the USDA and our sterilization business," said Scott Mahoney, CFO of MagneGas. "As we head into 2018, we are focused on accelerating the launch of our sterilization technology as well as other emerging applications we are developing. The key financial metric we have imposed in the commercialization process has been to proactively seek out non-dilutive capital solutions that enable these programs to move forward efficiently. The USDA pilot is an excellent example of these efforts. We will have 50 percent of all pilot costs offset through the USDA grant awarded in June of 2017. We will continue to seek similar grants, joint venture programs and other structures that will enable MagneGas to advance our technologies in the near term."
October 19, 2017, The Netherlands – In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that China consumes around 28 percent of the world’s meat. A lot of this meat is nationally produced, so a huge amount of livestock is needed. News outlets report that China raises around nine billion chickens for meat consumption. But besides space, feed and resources, another serious problem is manure management. Developing and implementing safe, cost-effective and sustainable ways is necessary and the Netherlands can play an important role. Within the Chinese government, there is an urgency to accelerate the transition to a circular, bio-based agriculture. The modernization of agriculture is a prominent topic in the 13th five-year plan and billions of euros will be invested in bio based and organic waste recycling over the next few years. Manure utilization is often not optimal in China, which has negative effects on the environment. At the same time, this also offers opportunities for foreign parties to enter the market. Therefore, a Dutch mission visited China in early October to gain a better understanding of the latest developments and to explore opportunities for long-term cooperation. “China has a large demand for agri-food technology and know-how,” said Epi Postma, director of B&E BV and one of the participants. “So there is a lot of supply and demand. Agri-food is a top-priority for the Chinese government. The Netherlands has much to offer and the Chinese know it. However, active involvement of the Dutch Embassy and Wageningen University for Sino-Dutch cooperation is imperative for opening doors.” Wageningen University (WUR) has close ties with several Chinese agricultural institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the China Agricultural University (CAU). Last year, WUR and CAAS together established the Sino-Dutch Livestock Waste Recycling Center. “We want to set up projects which link research institutes and the business community,” said Roland Melse, senior environmental technology researcher who also accompanied the mission. “Another good example of such a cooperation is the Sino-Dutch Dairy Development Center where WUR, FrieslandCampina, Rabobank and other companies are participating on the Dutch side.” In the Netherlands, solving the manure problem is a process that is already in the spotlight for many years. Further reducing emissions and raising resource efficiency are important challenges as well, now that the Netherlands has the ambition to become a full circular economy by 2050. Furthermore, the sector needs to adapt to changing natural conditions caused by a changing climate. Thus, getting insight on the available knowledge and the innovation ecosystem in China can also provide solutions for the Dutch situation. Of course, this is not applicable one-on-one. “Operating on such a large scale as China’s needs long-term investments in time and capital,” said Melse. “So that is quite a challenge for smaller companies.” On the other hand, the technology and tools that the Netherlands can offer are very interesting for China. Eijkelkamp Soil & Water Export, for example, “provide solutions that make sustainable soil and water management easier,” said Winnie Huang, export manager. “Looking at manure nutrient management, our technology has environmentally friendly solutions for the whole value chain. The Netherlands [is a] pioneer with this technology.” But it is not all about technology. “Rules and regulations are another important factor in further developing this industry,” said Melse. “When there are stricter laws, companies will have to follow them. For example, recently we organized a seminar with 20 Chinese CEOs from large meat producing companies and you could see that Chinese companies are preparing themselves for the future. They are interested to see which future possibilities there might be for cooperation or which products and technologies are available on the market. So the Chinese government also plays a role in strengthening Sino-Dutch cooperation.” “We hope to have government support for developing or demonstrating the Dutch expertise in manure management,” said Huang. “Our sensors and data enhance nutrient management, thus making manure a useful resource for the entire value chain. Learning the Dutch approach and adapting to Chinese practice will deliver mutual benefits to both countries in this sector.”
October 11, 2017, Madison, WI – Ten winners were honored from 30 finalists and more than 230 nominees during the 2017 Wisconsin Innovation Awards, held recently at the Wisconsin Union Terrace. The agriculture winner was Midwestern BioAg and its TerraNu Nutrient Technology, a manufacturing process that gives crop producers access to manure-sourced nutrients from livestock farms. The ceremony recognized the state’s most innovative products and services from nine industry categories. The 2017 winners were selected from a panel of 23 experts from around Wisconsin, and span all business sectors – technology, food, healthcare, agriculture, nonprofits, education, government, and the like – throughout the state. “The Wisconsin Innovation Awards seek to celebrate and inspire innovation, and highlight the creative spirit from the state’s leading public, private and nonprofit sectors,” said Matt Younkle, co-founder of the awards and CEO of Cardigan, LLC. “We want to congratulate all finalists and winners from the 2017 Wisconsin Innovation Awards, and look forward to encouraging an even greater environment of innovation in the year to come.”
October 10, 2017, Abbotsford, BC – Trident Processes recently received the Canadian Business Excellence Award for Private Businesses for 2018. The award is given annually to 25 private businesses across Canada. Trident, headquartered in B.C., has commercialized a unique process for recovering and repurposing valuable resources from livestock manure and municipal wastewater. Its technologies recover nutrients and other resources, a growing focus of agricultural, municipal and industrial wastewater industries. "I continue to be amazed at the level of recognition our company has been able to achieve the past couple of years," said Kerry Doyle, CEO of Trident Processes. "Who would have thought a small company that processes dairy manure and municipal wastewater would be receiving an award alongside big consulting firms, bankers and IT professionals?" "It highlights the importance of the work we are doing," he added. The award is presented by Excellence Canada and PwC Canada as special recognition of Canadian businesses that demonstrate exemplary performance of strategic plans and exceptional achievement of their business goals. Applicant companies are evaluated by an independent adjudication committee from organizations that include BC Business Magazine, CEO Global Network, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Carleton University, CPA Canada, MaRS, PwC Canada, and Excellence Canada.
Annapolis, MD – With the spring planting season drawing near, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched its 2018 "Manure Happens" public education campaign to help citizens understand how and why farmers recycle manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner. The 2018 campaign includes information on how farmers using different types of farming practices apply manure to their fields, along with the with the steps they must take to protect water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The ads will run in local newspapers, websites, and social media throughout the month of March."Today's consumers want to know everything about how their food is produced, including the environmental impacts of production practices," said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. "The 'Manure Happens' campaign aims to address any concerns the public may have regarding the use of manure as a fertilizer. In upcoming weeks, you will start see—and smell—farmers spreading manure on their fields when conditions are right for spring planting. Please be considerate, and remember to share the road with our farmers when driving in farm country."Farmers using conventional farming techniques till manure into the soil. This improves nutrient retention and reduces odors for nearby neighbors. Farmers who have switched to no-till farming practices to reduce erosion and re-build their soil's health, grow their crops without disturbing the soil. These farmers apply manure to the surface of the soil and are required to install additional protections like 35-foot buffers to protect local streams from runoff.Maryland's Nutrient Management Regulations prohibit farmers from spreading manure on their fields in winter or when the ground is frozen. March 1 is the first opportunity for farmers to recycle manure generated over the winter as a crop fertilizer. To further protect water resources, Maryland farmers are required to incorporate manure into the soil within 48 hours if they are not using no-till farming practices. The department provides grants to farmers who want to try the latest liquid manure "injection" equipment. Injecting manure into the soil is more expensive than broadcasting manure, but has shown to be compatible with no-till cropping systems. In addition, Maryland's Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations are being phased in over the next several years to help farmers who use manure as a crop fertilizer protect waterways from phosphorus runoff.The public education ads direct visitors to the department's "Manure Happens" website at: mda.maryland.gov/manure. In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure resources, the website offers resources for farmers who currently use commercial fertilizers and are considering making the switch to manure and farmers who sell manure resources as part of their farm's business model. The page provides links to additional resources available for farmers, including grants to transport poultry litter and manure, tax credits, technical guidance and scientific research on the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment. In addition, the website includes links to Maryland's nutrient management regulations and spotlights farmers who use manure as a valuable resource.The department's 2018 educational advertising campaign includes three ads with different themes. The Odoriferous ad focuses on ways farmers work to reduce odors while spreading manure.The Style Squad ad discusses the various ways farmers work to keep manure away from waterways. In addition, the campaign's namesake ad, Manure Happens has been updated with new imagery.
February 15, 2018, Washington, DC – Legislation strongly supported by the National Pork Producers Council, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Turkey Federation, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and United Egg Producers was introduced Feb. 13 to exempt farmers from reporting to the U.S. Coast Guard emissions from the natural breakdown of manure on their farms. Led by Sens. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Ranking Member Tom Carper, D-Del., the bipartisan “Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act” would fix a problem created last April when a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). READ MORE
January 17, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Iowa lawmakers should halt construction on animal confinements until Iowa's water quality is significantly improved, a coalition of about two dozen state, local and national groups said Tuesday. The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture asked lawmakers to support 15 bills tightening oversight of confinements introduced by Sen. David Johnson, an independent from Ocheyeden. READ MORE
December 14, 2017, Winnipeg, Man – Effective March 2018, the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) will disband and its activities will be rolled into a more broadly mandated provincial research organization created under the new federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership. John Carney, executive director of the MLMMI, said work over the past almost 20 years has included odor mitigation, odor measurement and quantification, nutrient management including manure separation and manure nutrients in crops, the feasibility of a manure pipeline to transport manure, pathogens in manure and barn worker health and safety. “Certainly, there's been quite a bit of work done in odor management,” he said. “We have a model that is very helpful for predicting odor plumes and there's actually some refinements going on with that as we speak.” “We fully investigated five different technologies for manure separation as part of redistributing nutrients from areas that don't have enough spreadable acres.We looked at alternatives and costs of manure transportation.” “I think it's important to note too that we don't just consider our success when we find something that works,” Carney added. “When we find that it's not the answer, I think that's just as valuable as when you find something that is what you hoped it would be.” “Our research has the capabilities of saving a lot of producers the time, money and frustration of implementing technologies or strategies that it turns out don't work in Manitoba conditions.” According to Carney, under the new program, this research will be broadened to cover all forms agriculture. He said there continues to be opportunities for Manitoba to produce more livestock so manure research will continue to be an important focus.
October 20, 2017, Green Bay, WI – The Dairy Business Association (DBA) has reached a settlement in its lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for legal overreach on regulations. The settlement, reached Oct. 18 between the association and DNR, will bring immediate relief for dairy farmers facing uncertainty and costly changes, and will provide assurance that the DNR will create future rules only according to the law. “More than anything, this is a victory for the rule of law,” said Mike North, president of the DBA. “The DNR or other state agencies can’t make up the rules as they go along. There is a process that must be followed, and that process promotes public participation, legislative oversight and transparency. That is good for everyone.” The dairy group prevailed on the central claims of the suit — that the DNR illegally changed rules for how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage and calf hutch areas. More broadly, the settlement reaffirms the significance of Act 21, a 2011 state law that requires agencies to follow a specific method of rulemaking. In reaching the deal, the DNR admitted that it overreached its legal authority, vowed to follow the proper rulemaking process and agreed to rescind the blanket change in standards for vegetative treatment areas (VTAs) and calf hutches. Instead, the agency will order changes on a case-by-case basis if a farm’s conditions warrant. “Farmers’ investments will be protected by this victory,” North said. “Current practices will continue where they are working. A farm-specific approach will save farmers time and money. And we will have better and longer-lasting environmental outcomes.” All environmental safeguards for water quality remain in place, North said, noting that existing standards found in state and federal law are not changed by this settlement. “This lawsuit was never about rolling back regulations. It was about creating regulations according to a legally prescribed process,” North said. The suit, filed July 31, was a first for the DBA and came only after years of rebuffed efforts to work with the DNR on its approach, North said. The VTA and calf hutch issues were the last straws. For its part, the DBA agreed to drop a third claim related to a large farm’s duty to apply for a permit. The association had argued in the lawsuit that the DNR was contradicting a state law by exceeding federal standards that require a specific type of permit only if the farm discharges nutrients to a navigable surface water. North said the dairy group expected that its duty-to-apply claim would result in a harmonization of state and federal laws while still providing for environmental oversight of farms. But, he said, the association realized this claim would be the most challenging to prevail on in court even though there was sound basis. “We are pleased we could help secure a more certain future for Wisconsin dairy farmers and send a strong message that state agencies must follow the rule of law when creating regulations,” North said.
The U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards is an opportunity for the industry to recognize how innovation and creativity sparked by one farm, one person or one organization can have a ripple effect that goes well beyond their farm gate or front door.This year, the seventh-annual awards celebration took place in Lombard, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, to honor the dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet. This year's winners addressed water quality, manure management, recycling and more. | READ MORE
Reading, Pennsylvania - All communities depend on clean water and that supply of clean water depends on the actions of members in the community and outside of it. The small city of Kutztown lies within the Saucony Creek watershed in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The watershed is mostly agricultural, dotted with small family crop and livestock farms, and the activities on these farms affect water supplies near and far. Saucony Creek itself feeds into Lake Ontelaunee, the water supply for Reading, Pennsylvania. Kutztown gets its water from wells that, because of the soils and geology of the area, are strongly affected by activities on the surrounding landscape.In the early 2000s, the nitrates in Kutztown's water supply were approaching the maximum safe levels for drinking water. The nitrates were related in large part to farms in the area. This situation energized a partnership of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private entities to ensure the safety of the city's water supply, in part by helping local farmers install conservation practices that protect and improve water quality. As part of this effort, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivered additional funding for voluntary conservation assistance through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). NRCS Collaborates with Conservation-Minded FarmersFor years, dairy farmer Daniel Weaver faced challenges that made his life harder and affected water quality in his area. He hauled manure every day because he had nowhere to store it. And, his cows watered and roamed in a branch to Saucony Creek that runs through his property. This reduced the health of the stream and of his herd. That is before he formed a relationship with NRCS staff at his local USDA Service Center.With NRCS's help, Weaver was able to implement conservation practices that improve the operations of his farm in a way that also protects the ground and surface water flowing through his property. First, NRCS helped him develop a nutrient management plan for his property. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding, commonly known as EQIP, enabled him to install a manure storage tank that alleviates the need to haul manure daily. The new storage capacity allows him to control the rate and timing of manure application on his farm, which are key factors in achieving healthy soil and clean water. He also says that it has helped him save on labor and fertilizer."I think it should be mandatory for farmers to have a manure pit," he said.Streambank fencing and an animal crossing were installed to keep cows from contaminating streams and creeks that crossed their pastures and therefore the downstream rivers and lakes. In the five years since installation, vegetation has grown on the stream banks, creating a buffer for the stream and the crossing controls the cows' access, thereby limiting pathogens and nutrients from entering the water.Not too far away, Harlan Burkholder owns and operates a 100-acre row crop and beef cattle farm. He also worked with NRCS and other partners to improve water quality in Saucony Creek. When Burkholder bought his farm in 2005, manure was being stored on the ground near the creek that runs through the property because there was limited space near the barn. He had to spread manure on the fields often to keep it from piling up.Realizing that it's best to spread manure in the growing season and store it in the winter to avoid runoff, he developed a nutrient management plan. After applying for NRCS financial assistance, he worked with NRCS to co-invest in a manure storage structure. Now, Burkholder is able to store manure over the winter so he can spread it at optimal times.He is grateful for NRCS's help. "As a beginner, there's no way I could have spent money on something like this," he said.Burkholder also knows the importance of keeping soil healthy with no-till and cover crops. As a 100-pecent no-till farmer, Burkholder says, "I have no intentions of doing anything else. It's working."It's working so well that he's sharing his knowledge and experiences with other farmers.ResultsTogether, NRCS and its partners have helped more than 20 farmers in the watershed get conservation on the ground. In fact, NRCS has invested more than $2 million in targeted assistance in this area alone."The voluntary efforts of these farmers that protect the water in Saucony Creek also has a positive impact on the groundwater in aquifers beneath it," said Martin Lowenfish, the team lead for NRCS's landscape conservation initiatives. "Kutztown is home to 14,000 residents who rely on drinking water from those aquifers."And, the residents of Kutztown are taking notice. Just two years after the city's water treatment plant was updated with equipment to remove nitrates from the raw water, the plant is running at minimum capacity because the nitrate levels have been reduced by almost half thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers upstream. Now, the treatment plant's water is within legal safe drinking water requirements and treatment costs also have been significantly reduced.This is just one impact among many that show how a little conservation can yield big results for communities downstream.
August 18, 2017, Indiana - Fair Oaks Farms co-founder Sue McCloskey now has a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for general awesomeness.McCloskey, who launched the hugely popular agritourism farm on the border of Jasper and Newton counties, was one of 15 women to receive an Awesome Women Award in the August edition of Good Housekeeping, which hits newsstands Tuesday. She was lauded for her work in turning manure into clean fuel that powers vehicles at the farm, as well as 42 delivery trucks of Fairs Oaks cheese and dairy products. READ MORE
August 15, 2017, Madison, WI - The Wisconsin State Assembly will honor of the life a young farmer who died on this date a year ago as a result of a farming accident.Mike Biadasz, 29, went out to agitate a manure pit on his family's farm near Amherst, when the crust layer on top of the pit opened, hydrogen sulfide gas was expelled. He died on Aug. 15, 2016 after being poisoned by methane gas.The Assembly honored the young resident with a resolution that acknowledged his dedication to farming and the need for best practices to be established for manure pit agitation that mitigate risk and educate the public on hydrogen sulfide poisoning and other toxic gases. The 2017 State of Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 6, reads:Relating to: honoring the life and contributions of Michael "Mike" Robert Biadasz.Whereas, Michael "Mike" Robert Biadasz was born on March 22, 1987, in Stevens Point and passed away on August 15, 2016; andWhereas, Mike attended Amherst Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Amherst High School in 2005; andWhereas, Mike dedicated his life to farming at a young age, attending Mid-State Technical College in Marshfield and Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and advancing in the Farming and Agricultural program; andWhereas, Mike lived by the adage, "Live today like you are going to die tomorrow, but farm today like you are going to farm forever"; andWhereas, Mike enjoyed hunting and the outdoors and spending time with friends and family, and always loved to make people laugh; andWhereas, Mike was considered by many as a best friend and touched so many people throughout his life that more than 1,200 people attended his visitation to pay their respects; andWhereas, Mike will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and neighbors; andWhereas, Mike is survived by his parents, Robert and Diane Biadasz of Amherst, and three sisters: Amy (Tim) Tryba of River Falls and their children Everett, Bennett, and Hewitt; Lisa (Nathan) Grezenski of Rosholt and their children Jacob, Tyler, and Natalie; and Megan (Matt) Check of Wausau; andWhereas, Mike's legacy will live on in his family and friends, who are encouraging farmers to attend safety training classes for best practices in manure pit management and heightening public awareness of hydrogen sulfide poisoning along with other toxic gases; now, therefore, be itResolved by the assembly, That the members of the Wisconsin State Assembly declare August 15, 2017, Mike Biadasz Day and recognize that his lifelong passion of farming will live on in his legacy; and, be it furtherResolved, That the members of the Wisconsin State Assembly call upon all stakeholders in public health, agriculture, education, and training that best practices be established for manure pit agitation that mitigate risk and educate the public on hydrogen sulfide poisoning and other toxic gases. Resolved, That the assembly chief clerk shall provide a copy of this joint resolution to Robert and Diane Biadasz.
August 2, 2017, Marshfield, WI - Mike Biadasz's death has spurred his family to help prevent a similar farm tragedy from occurring again.The 29-year-old and six cattle on his family's farm near Amherst were overcome by toxic gas released from a manure pit last year.Today, the Biadasz Family donated $40,000 it raised to the National Farm Medicine Center (NFMC) based at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute and Marshfield Clinic Center for Community Outreach (CCO) establishing the Mike Biadasz Farm Safety and Education Memorial Fund. Farmers can apply for a rebate that covers the cost for a portable gas monitor device that detects gas levels and alerts them when potentially lethal levels are reached. READ MORE
When Tim Sigrist came back to the family farm in Dundee, Ohio, after college, his father John told him he needed to find a new revenue stream. Eventually that would be a booming composted manure business, but first Tim drove a canned milk route.“Not long after, we learned that the soil surrounding the farm where we had been spreading liquid manure was completely saturated with nutrients,” he remembers. “At the time, in the early 1990s, we had over 350 dairy cattle. Our extension agent suggested composting our solid manure and we decided to try it as a way to deal with the excess manure. The idea of selling the compost came later.”There were no best practices available for manure composting – let alone much basic research – so Tim was left to experiment with different methods (more on that later). But success was achieved and by 1994, Bull Country Compost was born. Demand was strong right away – Sigrist made the product attractive by offering delivery – but as word spread, demand started to outstrip supply. They needed more manure, and about three years in, another revenue stream was born through taking horse manure from their Amish neighbors along with manure from other area farms.Nowadays, Bull Country Compost is one of the largest Class III EPA-inspected composting facilities in Northeast Ohio.“In 2016, we sold over 45,000 bags of compost, up from 36,000 in 2014,” Sigrist says proudly. “But we actually sell more product in bulk cubic yards than in bagged form to both consumer and retail markets.”Ten percent of the manure currently comes from their farm (Tim’s parents John and Linda sold the dairy cows in 2013 but continue to raise about 120 dairy heifers), with the remaining from other farms, auction barns and seasonal fairs.“We have farms where we haul out once a year and others where we do pick-up every week,” says Sigrist. “All locations pay us to take it away and there is a monthly fee to have a dumpster placed. Due to wear and tear on the dumpsters and the extensive cost of trucking – and the fact that some locations are up to 100 miles away – we can’t haul it for free.” Indeed, it was early on that Sigrist realized it would be easier to provide large manure collection bins at farms, and that number of bins continues to grow.“They’re 30-yard roll-off dumpsters made by a nearby manufacturer,” he says. “Because manure is so corrosive, we have to continually repair and replace them.” Back when he started, Tim knew the basics of composting. Factors such as the type of manure, composting method (oxygenation) and weather would all affect timelines and quality of the final product. He first tried windrows turned by tractor, but it was labor intensive and the Ohio rains kept the material too wet. He researched various types of vessel structures and built one of his own with a concrete base.“It was 150-by-80 feet with a homemade top supported by wood beams,” Sigrist explains. “There were two rows of material 10-feet wide.” View the embedded image gallery online at: https://www.manuremanager.com/index.php?option=com_k2&Itemid=58&lang=en&layout=latest&view=latest#sigProGalleria0cf9e00754 Over time, he added more vessels, making them wider to accommodate larger equipment, better aerated and better able deal with excess water. Older vessels were aerated using pipes running through the manure, and newer vessels have aeration constructed into the concrete floor through ditches with perforated pipes. This arrangement allows liquid to flow out as composting proceeds.“The liquid is captured in a drainage system that empties into our manure lagoon,” Sigrist explains. “There is a small fan in each vessel that feeds into the perforated pipes to aid air flow, and this significantly increases the temperature as well.”Newer vessels also sport a higher hoop roof, which also boosts airflow. The manure is composted for six to eight weeks being moved to one of three curing sheds for six to eight months. Screening is next, then bagging in the bagging shed or placement in piles for bulk sale. Sigrist created the bagging system using auger equipment and a homemade conveyor, with which four employees can bag and stack almost five tons of compost an hour. In total, Bull Country Compost has eight vessels, with 3,000 yards of material continually being processed by about nine employees, some full-time and some part-time/seasonal (Sigrist says that similarly to many industries, finding people willing to do manual labor like bagging can be difficult). The entire operation stretches over three acres. Multiple groups from both Ohio State University and various local soil and water conservation districts have toured the site, and Sigrist has hosted curious visitors from as far away as Alaska. While years ago people were generally unsure about composted manure, that has changed. “It’s been 25 years and we have many loyal customers,” Sigrist says. “Word of mouth is the best advertisement there is. Also, many of our retail locations have an open bag of compost beside the pallet of bags for sale, and this helps people to ‘see, smell and feel’ the compost. Also, through the media and internet, people’s general awareness of soil and environmental health has risen and many consumers have learned the difference between raw manure and compost on their own.” The farm is still active, with the heifers and 500 acres of crops. Sigrist says the manure composting and farm activities support each other in unique ways, making the entire operation able to support multiple generations of his family. The composting business has also allowed the family to branch out into offering other services such as custom litter spreader application and custom harvesting. No specific new markets or products are being pursued, but Sigrist says they are always keen to gain a larger share of the soil amendment market at garden centers, and always listen to feedback from customers and garden professionals.“The entire journey has been a big learning experience,” he reflects. “From finding new markets and keeping up with growth to creating vessels and streamlining the process, we had to develop our own model as there weren’t any of its kind at the time.”One project Sigrist hopes finish in the future is to pipe heat generated by the compost to the bagging shed.“That way, bagging can start earlier in the year in more comfort,” he says. “I haven’t gotten to it yet, but in the meantime, we bought the employees nice insulated jackets!”
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Manure Science ReviewWed Jul 25, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 North American Manure ExpoWed Aug 15, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 Canada's Outdoor Farm ShowTue Sep 11, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Farm Science Review 2018Tue Sep 18, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
U.S. Poultry & Egg Environmental Management SeminarThu Sep 20, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
World Dairy Expo 2018Tue Oct 02, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM