May 11, 2017, Madison County, OH – A new hog barn in Madison County has thousands of color-changing LED lights, sophisticated computer ventilation controls and an automated feeding system that can serve thousands of pigs with the flip of a switch, but it is what lies 10 feet beneath the 733-foot-long barn that is exciting. Two large pipes jutting out of one end of the barn – the visible piece of a system called mass agitation – allow the farm team to pump 7,000 gallons of water a minute into the pit beneath the barn where the excretions of 5,000 or so pigs collect. The water, which feeds through the two pipes and into other branches throughout the pit, stirs things up, which should make for better manure to spread on farm fields and also reduce the smell. READ MORE
Custom manure applicators often describe their work in colorful ways, using such terms as “traveling circus” and “hopscotch system” to explain what they do on a day-to-day basis. Lately, many have added a new term to their vocabulary and that is “frac tank.”
April 27, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta – The beef industry is facing opportunity and a dilemma. Consumption of animal protein is expected to increase more than 60 percent over the next 40 years according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Ruminants are a key to meeting this demand because they can convert forage to protein-rich food and make use of land not suitable for arable crops. The dilemma is ruminants are also a significant environmental problem, producing large amounts of methane from that forage consumption. There are no silver bullets to deal with methane and ammonia emissions but there is real promise for significant improvement on the horizon say Dr. Karen Beauchemin and Dr. Karen Koenig, two researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. Here are three examples. New product Perhaps the most dramatic methane control option is a new product in the pipeline designed specifically to manage methane production in ruminants. "Methane is lost energy and lost opportunity," says Beauchemin. "The inhibitor 3-nitrooxypropanol (NOP) is a new compound synthetized by a company out of Switzerland specifically to control methane. A feed additive, it interferes with normal digestion process reducing the ability of rumen organisms to synthesize methane, shifting methane energy to a more usable form for the animal." Research by the Lethbridge team showed adding NOP to a standard diet reduced methane production 40 percent during backgrounding and finishing of cattle. Trials have been done in commercial feedlots and it is moving into the registration channels in North America. "Obviously there are hoops to go through in registration and questions such as pricing and mode of use in the cow calf sector that would affect industry uptake, but it is a very promising emission control alternative that could be available within three to five years," says Beauchemin. New techniques Diet manipulation is also promising. For example, increasing the nutritional digestibility of forages through early harvesting increases animal efficiency and reduces methane emissions, says Beauchemin. "We're also overfeeding protein in many cases which increases ammonia emissions," says Koenig. "For example, distillers grains, a by-product of the ethanol industry, are commonly fed in feedlots. But the nutrients are concentrated and when added to diets as an energy supplement, it often results in overfeeding protein, which increases ammonia emissions." One new area of research that may mitigate that, she says, is using plant extracts such as tannins that bind the nitrogen in the animal's gut and retain it in the manure more effectively. That retains the value as fertilizer. "There are supplements on the market with these products in them already, but we are evaluating them in terms of ammonia and methane management." New thinking A new focus in research trials today is thinking "whole farm." A new research nutrient utilization trial in the Fraser Valley of B.C. is looking at crop production in terms of selection of crops, number of cuts, fertilization and feed quality. "We are looking at what is needed to meet the needs of the dairy cow," says Koenig. "It's a whole farm system that does not oversupply nutrients to the animal." Road ahead Basically, most things that improve efficiency in animal production reduce methane and ammonia production, says Beauchemin and Koenig. They emphasize that while forage does produce methane, forage is a complex system that must be considered as whole ecosystem with many positive benefits. The biggest opportunity for improvement in methane emissions is in the cow calf and backgrounding sector because they are highly forage-ration based. But the low hanging fruit and early research in emission management is focused on the feedlot and dairy sector because diets can be controlled more easily. Related scientific paper here "Effects of sustained reduction of enteric methane emissions with dietary... ."
  Back in mid-November, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plus 20 business and association partners made an exciting announcement. They launched a challenge – the Nutrient Recycling Challenge – a competition aimed at developing affordable technologies that can recycle nutrients from livestock manure. The main idea behind the challenge is to encourage participants to develop affordable and useable technologies that can extract nutrients from manure and generate products that can benefit the environment and be sold or used by farmers. “Scientists and engineers are already building technologies that can recover nutrients but further development is needed to make them more effective and affordable,” stated Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, when the challenge was launched. “The Nutrient Recycling Challenge will harness the power of competition to find solutions that are a win/win for farmers, the environment, and the economy.” The competition has been organized into four stages. Phase I (January 15, 2016) calls for concept papers outlining the idea behind the technology. Phase II (Spring 2016) will involve designing the technology. Phase III (Summer 2016) involves the development of prototypes and proof of concept. Final submissions are due by Fall 2016 with an awards ceremony expected January 2017. Phase IV (Spring 2017) will involve placing the final participants’ technologies on pilot farm operations. Already, the first phase of the multi-year competition has been completed. During Phase I, as much as $20,000 in cash prizes will be split between up to four winning concepts. As well, according to the challenge website (, promising applicants will also be invited to an exclusive two-day partnering and investor summit in Washington, DC, being held in March 2016. They can also gain entry into further phases of the challenge, which will include potential awards such as further funding, incubation support, connection to investors, media and publicity plus the opportunity to have the technology demonstrated on an operational farm. Since the project was launched, discussion about the challenge has been quiet with the event website’s discussion area posting links to articles announcing the competition. As of the end of December 2016, only seven people were following the challenge on its website. Even many of the event partners have been mute about the competition, except for Smithfield Foods, which released a press release promoting its involvement in the challenge. “Our goal in partnering in this competition is to encourage innovation and identify additional opportunities for continuous improvement in management of livestock manure,” said Kraig Westerbeek, vice president of environmental compliance and support operations of Smithfield’s hog production division. I look forward to the announcement of Phase I winners in March and will be following the competition through all of its phases. Be sure to check back with Manure Manager for updates.      
June 12, 2015, Chambersburg, PA – Agriculture, like most industries, is in constant flux. Consumer trends shift, new discoveries are made, technologies advance, and regulations change. The manure handling and application industry is no different. The North American Manure Expo prides itself on helping livestock producers and custom manure applicators stay in the know. This year’s event – being held July 14 and 15 in Chambersburg, Penn. – provides attendees with more than 30 different education sessions to choose from to help them stay informed. On July 15, the knowledge sharing begins at 8 a.m. with the first round of seminars on the expo grounds. Subdivided into five different areas of interest, they include: Commercial Hauler Seminar Application of Food Processing Residuals – Linda Housel, Jeff Olsen Economic Considerations of Manure Transport with Frac Tanks – Eric Dreshbach Road, Field & Shop Safety – Eric Dreshbach Manure & Corn Seminar Shallow Disk Injection Versus Broadcasting of Manure: A Field Study Comparison – Emily Duncan Manure Injection in Corn: NY Experiences – Karl Czymmek Drag-lining Manure into Emerged Corn: What’s Working in Ohio – Glen Arnold Poultry Focus Seminar Biosecurity & Avian Influenza Update – Gregory Martin Poultry Litter & Biosolid Injection – Amy Shober Poultry Litter Auction: The Story of Cotner Manure Auction – Dean James Management Basics Seminar 4Rs in the Real World: making Sure Your Manure’s All Right – Brooke & Eric Rosenbaum Manure Composting – Jean Bohnotal Mortality Composting – Jean Bohnotal Dairy Focus Seminar Factors Effecting Manure P Excretion on PA Dairy Farms – Dan Ludwig, Virginia Ishler How Practical is Dairy Manure Injection? – Rory Maguire Utilizing Fall Manure to Double Crop Winter & Summer Annual Forages – Rachel Milliron These same five sessions will also be repeated later in the afternoon, starting at 5 p.m. Other education seminars being held over the course of the day include: Responsible Ag (9:30 a.m.) Helping Fertilizer Retailers be Safe, Secure & Compliant – Wade Foster Gas Safety Seminar (9:30 a.m. & 12:30 p.m.) Hydrogen Sulfide Production in Manure Storages at PA Dairy Farms that use Gypsum Bedding – Mike Hile Demonstration of Penn State’s gas trailer – Dave Hill Agriculture Road Safety (9:30 a.m. & 1:30 p.m.) A review of road safety with Officers Mitchell Saflia & Greg Fisher PA One Stop Mapping (10 a.m. & Noon) Presented by Rich Day & Bob Neiderer Regulation Changes (Noon) Clean Water Act and the “Waters of the United States” Rule: Potential Effects on Nutrient Application – Wade Foster Maryland Manure Application Regulation Update – Dwight Dotterer Ohio’s New Manure Application Regulations for the Western Lake Erie Watershed – Glen Arnold Legal Liability Issues Related to Manure – Matt Royer Poultry Tour Seminar (12:30 p.m.) Two Hundred Years of Manure Management at Lesher’s Poultry – Leslie Bowman Recycling Mineral Nutrients from Egg Layer Manure: The Gettysburg Energy & Nutrient Recovery Facility – Pat Topper Equine Seminar (2 p.m.) Equine Manure Composting & Storage Options – Ann Swinker Not So Good to Best Management Practices: Manure Handling Improvements that Really Work for Horse Farms – Jamie Cohen Equine Parasites in Manure – Donna Foulk Attendees will also have lots of opportunities to learn in the field. On July 15, attendees can watch solid and liquid manure application plus compost turner demonstrations, take part in a spreader calibration exercise plus learn how to respond during an unexpected manure spill. And don’t forget the full day of dairy/agitation and equine/beef small farm tours on July 14 plus the trade show – a mini manure city constructed in a field of wheat stubble. The North American Manure Expo is the perfect opportunity for attendees to talk to manufacturers, dealers and other experts in the manure industry and view side-by-side demonstrations of equipment. Nowhere else can the audience view and compare technologies while kicking the tires in such a large, industry-specific forum. To learn more about the 2015 North American Manure Expo and register for events, visit  
    July 23, 2014, Maria Stein, OH – Livestock producers and others interested in learning more about manure application technology are encouraged to attend the Western Ohio Manure Application Technology Field Day being held on July 31 at Homan Inc at 69115 Olding Road, Maria Stein in Mercer County. A morning educational program from 9:30am to 11:30am will be held at the Homan Inc barn. Topics will include Nutrient Management-National, State, and Local Perspectives: Senate Bill 150-On-farm impacts: Utilizing Manure Nutrients to Improve Nitrogen Utilization and Management: Cover Crop Selection to Conserve Nitrogen for the Following Year: and BioSecurity for Manure Applicators. READ MORE
In 2015, Manure Manager reported on the dribble bar, a method of applying liquid manure for dragline units that is very popular in Europe, with thousands of units sold there by its Germany-based manufacturer, Vogelsang, which has a U.S. office in Ravenna, Ohio.
May 1, 2017 – When is the best time to spread manure for optimal crop production and minimize environmental losses?The simple answer is it depends on many factors. While not exactly a satisfying answer to a complex scenario, it truly depends on the manure handling system, cropping system, field conditions, weather forecasts, time and labor available, volume of manure in the pit and many more factors. What is the right decision when there are so many factors out of our control? The best answer is to know the risk factors during the time of manure application and minimize those risks while optimizing crop production with those additional manure nutrients.To help solve this complex scenario, a new tool is available for Michigan livestock producers to use when making decisions on when and where to spread manure. The Michigan State University EnviroImpact Tool is part of the Michigan Manure Management Advisory System that was been developed through a partnership between National Weather Service/NOAA, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), Michigan State University (MSU) Institute of Water Research, Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension. The MSU EnviroImpact Tool provides maps showing short-term runoff risks for daily manure application planning purposes; taking into account factors including precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and landscape characteristics. Anyone handling and applying livestock manure in Michigan can use this tool to determine how risky it will be spread manure on their fields.Key features of this tool include: Ability to sign up for e-mail or text message alerts specific to your field locations for high-risk runoff days. Easy visualization of the short-term risk of manure runoff. Ability to zoom in on the map to your field(s) and click on the location to determine the potential risk of runoff from manure application. Capability to login to the tool to draw and save your fields on the map to determine risk of runoff at any time. Automatic daily runoff risk forecast updates from the National Weather Service. Access to additional resources on manure management. While the purpose of these maps are to help reduce the risk of applied manure leaving the fields, it is very important to follow your farm's Manure Management Plan and to assess the risk for each field prior to manure applications. Always apply your own knowledge of your fields and landscapes when assessing the risk of runoff from manure applications. Remember this tool is just one of many in your own toolbox.Additional Manure Application Considerations:Risk increases with soil moisture. If you know that your fields are particularly wet, you should know that the risk of runoff from your fields would be higher than what is shown on the risk map. The opposite may hold true if you estimate that your soil moisture values are lower.Even if the map shows low risk of runoff, your fields may not be dry enough to spread manure. Applying liquid manure (typically equivalent to 1/3 to 1 inch or more of rainfall) to wet fields could lead to a direct manure runoff, even if the field is otherwise a low risk site due to low slope, etc. Make sure your fields are dry enough to accept additional moisture. Additionally, operating field equipment on wet fields could lead to soil compaction.Liquid manure applications increase soil moisture. An application of 27,000 gallons per acre of liquid manure is the equivalent of adding approximately 1 inch of water to your fields. A liquid manure application effectively increases your soil moisture, and therefore the risk of runoff from fields receiving liquid manure could be higher than what is shown on the risk map.Snow-covered and frozen fields are high risk. If you have snow on your fields, the risk of runoff from your fields could be higher especially if spreading manure in the later winter months of February or March (due to snowmelt or rainfall).Some fields are always higher risk areas. These are areas of concern on your farm, and might include fields with higher slopes, tighter soils (clay), poor drainage or close to sensitive areas such as surface waters, etc. Many of these areas should be identified in your Manure Management Plan and/or sensitive area maps. Use caution when applying manure in these areas, regardless of what the risk map indicates.Livestock producers and manure applicators should contact their local Conservation District MAEAP technician for help in developing a Manure Management Plan that takes into account a manure-spreading plan, sensitive area field maps and alternatives to spreading if necessary. Another great resource for making manure application decisions is MDARD's Right to Farm Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices (GAAMPs) specific to Manure Management and Utilization.The MSU EnviroImpact Tool is currently under development and will be available soon. Livestock producers, manure applicators and others are encouraged to preview the tool and provide feedback. If you interested in accessing the tool and providing feedback, please contact either Shelby Burlew, MSU Extension, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Jason Piwarski, MSU Institute of Water Research, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for access to the tool's website
April 20, 2017, Ithaca, NY – For many parts of New York State, not for the first time, March 2017 provided both deep snow and saturated wet conditions that presented significant manure related challenges, especially to daily spread and short term storage operations. The state's Department of Environmental Conservation recently issued a warning about risky manure spreading.While the conditions are still fresh, every operation should take stock of manure storage options and look for ways to avoid application in these situations. Over the last few weeks, I have heard more comments than usual from farm and non-farm folks alike about seeing neighbors spreading manure on barely trafficable fields or even from the edge of the road.If you find your operation in this situation, or if you strained to find fields that can hold up the tractor and spreader without getting stuck, runoff risk is likely to be high and application should be avoided whether you are a regulated farm or not. Spreading just before rain or snowmelt can be just as risky, even if a field can be driven on without getting stuck.For stackable manure in the short term, temporary pile locations can be identified with the help of SWCD, NRCS, or private sector planners until better storage options can be installed.New York State and federal cost share options are available annually; meet with your local SWCD and/or NRCS staff to start the process. The Dairy Acceleration Program can help with cost of engineering on farms under 700 cows.Position your operation for the future: evaluate manure storage needs and implement solutions.
July 12, 2016, Columbus, OH – The North American Manure Expo is about to land in Ohio. The big event, covering the serious business of using farm animal manure to help grow crops, while doing it safely and greenly, is August 3 and 4 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio, about 25 miles west of Columbus.
March 13, 2015 – Depending on the needs of an operation, manure spreaders can be an integral part of a farm’s daily chore routine or a machine of heavy seasonal use. In either case, preventative regular maintenance can help avoid costly repairs and frustrating downtime. Daily-used manure spreaders can show increased wear on specific components; this happens gradually and often goes unnoticed. Gradual wear can occur on apron chains, sprockets, bearings and rooster combs. Establishing a regular maintenance schedule helps detect increased wear and gives a producer an opportunity to adjust or repair these components before failure occurs. READ MORE
 A dribble bar could be used to apply manure in many situations, such as into a wheat crop at the same time that commercial nitrogen is applied, or before planting in canola, corn or soybeans. Photo contributed. Spreading liquid manure has always been challenging for farmers. Spraying it on fields is smelly and not terribly consistent. This spreading method can also cause crop damage and excessive run-off. Now however, much improved spreading for liquid manure is now available to Ontario farmers, thanks to Alma-based Husky Farm Equipment. In cooperation with Germany-based Vogelsang, the company has introduced the dribble bar, along with its many benefits. The dribble bar spreader originates in Europe, where there is widespread restriction of manure application outside the growing season. This spurred the development of new technology such as dribble bars. A dribble bar is just as it sounds – a bar-like system that dribbles manure at low pressure onto the ground below the plant leaves, allowing a greater amount to be applied with more accuracy, less runoff and less crop injury and less odour. “As application accuracy improves and environmental issues continue, combined with opportunities with GIS/GPS, there is more interest in dribble bar and other in-crop application technology,” notes Christine Brown, who has recently studied the dribble bar in her position as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) field crops program lead. Vogelsang dribble bar technology for dragline units was demonstrated at the North American Manure Expo in 2012. In 2013, Walter and Sharon Grose (owners of Husky Farm Equipment) decided to investigate it further, traveling to Germany to meet with Vogelsang and tour its factory. “This tour assured the fact that the tanker-mounted units could work on Canadian tankers,” Walter Grose says. “These units are widely used in Europe because of legislation and Ontario is cultivating an interest to pre-empt any legislation.” Benefits aboundBrown explains that the dribble bar (as well as other European equipment such as Veenhuis shallow injection technology) offers a tool bar with more rows, which allows for application at ground level in seven to 10-inch spacings with no splash. “At 10-inch row spacing, there are about 60 dribble hoses on the toolbar which means that at 4,000 gallons per acre, there would be about 70 to 75 gallons/row/acre,” she explains. “Less volume per row means less risk of runoff, and when applied in forage or pasture – assuming soil conditions are fit – there would be faster infiltration.” The dribble bar also offers greater nutrient application accuracy. “The distribution system is fine-tuned, so that the amount from each row is more consistent than current splash plate technology,” Brown says. “This makes the manure application more like fertilizer (although there will still be some variation in manure nutrient concentration), but the nutrients are placed closer to where a growing crop can utilize them.” Although injection into the soil would be even better, Brown notes that it take more time and more horsepower. She also states that if manure is applied to forages or to other growing crops, the system that works best is one that gets many acres covered in a day with less wheel track (similar to sprayer technology). She says a dribble bar could be used to apply manure in many situations, such as into a wheat crop at the same time that commercial nitrogen is applied, or before planting in canola, corn or soybeans. Brown says a dribble bar would also be effective in applying manure to ground with planted canola, corn (up to about the six leaf stage) or soybeans. She believes it would also be very suitable in edible beans before or just after planting, forage crops after harvest (with potentially up to three application opportunities) and in pastures (especially where rotational grazing has been established). Lastly, Brown believes dribble bars would also work well after cereal harvest, where manure could be slurry-seeded with cover crops (or the cover crops could be established after application). “Where large fields in corn/soy rotation have erosion concerns, grassed tram lines could be established for less compaction damage and more frequent in-crop application opportunities,” she adds. “For custom applicators, technology that allows manure application to occur during the growing season will allow more days for application in a year and will help to reduce the stress associated with full manure storage when the weather doesn’t cooperate, such as late harvest or wet conditions or early winter conditions.” Having the manure dribbled at low pressure into the soil a little at a time (and not sprayed in the air) obviously means substantially lower odor levels, but this has not been studied in Ontario at this point. However, Grose notes Vogelsang has done extensive research on how the dribble bar reduces odor, as well as how it boosts crop yield with its improved placement of nutrients and application timing. The way the dribble bar prevents manure from touching the plant canopy also means reduced crop burn and ammonia loss. “We have done ammonia loss studies in forages with dosimeter tubes that consistently show the ammonia loss is highest where the application rate is high (where manure puddles) and takes longer to infiltrate [which is something that tend not to happen with a dribble bar],” Brown explains. “There still could be ammonia burn [with a dribble bar] if the manure applied is a concentrated liquid poultry or hog manure applied at a high rate. But generally this type of manure is not recommended for forage crops that would be the most susceptible to ammonia burn.” She adds that salt/ammonia injury could be an issue with slurry-seeded cover crops, especially when planted into dry soils. Attachment and useThe Vogelsang dribble bar can be mounted on any manure spreader, notes Grose, although small modifications may be needed. The amount of modification needed for spreaders over 10 years old would not be cost-effective. In terms of speed, Grose confirms the Vogelsang dribble bar is faster than an injector unit. “Most injectors are 12 feet wide to fit road width and must travel many times up and down the field,” he explains. “The dribble bar is much wider and can cover more ground.” The time it takes to fold out the boom might be 20 seconds out and 30 seconds in, and Grose adds the dribble bar does not allow any manure to dribble on the road as it tips up for road travel. During application, the Vogelsang dribble bar uses a rotary distributor to pulse distribute the manure across the width of the unit. “When a triangle field is encountered, one side can be shut off or retracted to transport position to eliminate double coverage,” Grose says. “When an area in the field is encountered that has enough nitrogen, the booms can be turned on or off for precision coverage. Each nozzle gets the same amount of coverage whether one side is turned on or off.” Husky Farm Equipment Limited and Farm and Food Care will be using a tanker with a 50-foot Vogelsang dribble all over Ontario. “It will have demo days and farm show exposure,” Grose says. “The highlight of the year will be the demonstration at the North American Manure Expo in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in July 2015.” In terms of studies, Brown is hopeful she may be able to initiate some, but that depends on time and funding opportunities.” See the dribble bar applicator in action here:        
May 25, 2016, State College, PA – An online tool has been developed to help save the lives of people who enter manure storage facilities on the farm. Dennis Murphy, Nationwide Insurance professor of agriculture, safety and health, says pits are designed for the safety of animals but there are complicated computations for designing adequate ventilation for people. That’s where the tool comes in for builders, designers and engineer. READ MORE
November 4, 2013, Lancaster, PA – Vapors from liquid manure storage tanks are unseen, lethal presences lurking on farms.Recently, researchers have received a grant to study the risks posed by the gases – especially fast-acting hydrogen sulfide. An unidentified farm near Lititz is included in the study funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Matching partners include Penn State, the Pennsylvania State Conservation Commission, USA Gypsum and Industrial Scientific Corp., a gas-detection equipment maker. READ MORE
June 28, 2013 – A mother and daughter died in the Chinese province of Hebei recently after inhaling toxic fumes from a manure pit while attempting to dredge up a mobile phone, a newspaper reported. The incident occurred on the afternoon of June 16 after the daughter collapsed into the manure pit when she tried to pick up her mobile phone. READ MORE
April 10, 2013 – Death by manure pit – it may not be too common, accounting for about 10 deaths per year in North America, yet when it happens, it often takes more than one life. That’s because people who try to help can fall victim to the same toxic fumes that overcame the first person. And it might become more common, because of factors such as pressure to build more manure storage facilities to avoid polluting ground water, and that fact that the number of farms is decreasing, but the average size is increasing. READ MORE
November 30, 2012, Clear Lake, IA — An Iowa-based company is using a well-established manure pit product combined with a new delivery system to simplify manure management on hog and dairy farms. Advanced Biologicals plans to take the product – developed 30 or 40 years ago but now combined with a new delivery system called the Waste Away Injection System – nationwide by establishing a dealer network. The company is holding a series of informational meetings in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota starting in early December to introduce producers and possible dealers to the product. READ MORE
Jul. 16, 2012 - Concentrated livestock production facilities often store and treat manure in lagoons or deep pits. However, this practice can result in the production of noxious odors that adversely affect air quality, livestock health and human health. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers are looking at a range of options for mitigating the odors associated with manure storage, including methods that target the bacteria responsible for odor production. ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and this research supports the USDA priority of ensuring food safety. ARS microbiologists Terry Whitehead and Mike Cotta at the agency’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., conducted population surveys to identify and characterize the different bacteria that live in these environments. One of their goals was to find strains of hyper-ammonia-producing (HAP) bacteria, which can produce and release significantly larger amounts of ammonia than other types of bacteria. When Whitehead and Cotta conducted an isolation procedure for bacteria that may produce ammonia, they found seven unknown bacterial isolates. Using additional gene sequencing techniques, the researchers analyzed these isolates and confirmed that they belonged to a previously-unknown bacterial species in the genus Peptostreptococcus. Until this discovery, researchers had only identified two other species—P. anaerobius and P. stomatis—within the genus Peptostreptococcus. This new species produced such prodigious amounts of ammonia that it met the criteria for classification as a HAP bacterium. The scientists think studying this newly identified species could provide valuable information about the mechanisms involved in the production of noxious odors in manure pits. This knowledge, in turn, could help in the development of strategies for mitigating the microbial processes that result in these odors. The new species was named Peptostreptococcus russellii, in honor of the late James B. Russell, an ARS researcher who made many substantial contributions to rumen microbiology, including the initial isolation of HAP bacteria. Results from this study were published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology. You can read an abstract of the research here.

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