Manure Manager

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Editorial: March/April 2010


April 23, 2010
By Marg Land


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Nothing says spring quite like overly exuberant singing birds, slippery
snow remnants, falling in the mud, flapping around with a soaking wet
sock (caused by a hole in the boot) or hopping around on one foot after
having your footwear completely sucked off by the mud.
Nothing says spring quite like overly exuberant singing birds, slippery snow remnants, falling in the mud, flapping around with a soaking wet sock (caused by a hole in the boot) or hopping around on one foot after having your footwear completely sucked off by the mud.

I recently experienced all of these wonderful springtime rituals during an anaerobic digester technology tour, held during the second annual Canadian Farm and Food Biogas Conference in southern Ontario, Canada.

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a good farm tour filled with high-tech innovations, intelligent conversation, shiny new equipment, and good-natured jokes and ribbing with farmers and equipment manufacturers. I like viewing the operations, getting the information straight from the owner, hearing all the nitty-gritty details – both good and bad – plus getting the “unofficial” input from others in the group.

What I don’t enjoy is mud.

I spent my teenage years on a farm operation with rather “heavy” soil and have experienced my fair share of boot sucking, mud flinging and having to scrape clay balls from boots and shoes. The joke on our farm was you always came back a bit heavier than when you left to do chores.

I might be used to the routine but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. Following almost every farm stop we made during that early March technology tour, the participants had to search out the nearest patch of clean snow to clean off their boots. We all scratched and kicked snow and ice like a group of laying hens in search of grubs. And our bus tires had to be the best tested around as we kicked the loose mud clods off against the rubber sidewalls.

It became really interesting during the final stop at a dairy operation that was in the midst of building two anaerobic digesters. Tour participants were handed plastic booties for added biosecurity and boot protection. Soon, we were all slipping and sliding on the melting snow and ice. I almost fell about half a dozen times and was only saved by a strong arm or shoulder that just happened to be standing nearby. A fair share of nearby participants also had snow kicked over their pant legs as my feet scrambled for traction. After viewing the eight-foot drop into the digester foundation, I soon had those booties off. I’d rather brave the mud than have to cling to a crane chain to get out of that hole.

In all, the experience was an educational one. We all learned a great deal about anaerobic digesters, manure management and electrical generation plus had a great laugh as we slipped and slid our way around rural Ontario. Keep your eyes open for articles about the tour and the Canadian Farm and Food Biogas Conference in upcoming issues of Manure Manager.

I look forward to next year’s tour, although I might have to invest in steel cleats for my boots.