Equipment

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.”
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
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 (nutrientrecyclingchallenge.org), 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 manureexpo.org.  
    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
September 5, 2017, Manawa, WI - Although manure provides valuable nutrients, especially nitrogen, to high N-requiring crops such as corn, proper application is key to keeping those nutrients in the soil while reducing soil erosion.Methods of applying manure into the ground without significantly disturbing the soil were presented to area farmers at the recent summer field day sponsored by the Waupaca County Forage Council.During the morning presentations, speakers noted that a large portion of nitrogen, about half in typical liquid dairy manure, is in ammonium or urea form and can potentially be lost to the air as ammonia if the manure is not incorporated into the soil promptly.Historically, tillage has been the most common method of incorporation, but tillage and, to a lesser extent, standard injection reduce crop residue cover, leaving the field more susceptible to erosion.A common goal among producers is to find new methods for applying liquid dairy manure to maximize manure N availability while maintaining crop residue cover for erosion control.One of the field-day presenters, Dan Brick, of Brickstead Dairy near Greenleaf in Brown County, has become an active conservation leader, who's committed to finding solutions that maintain environmental quality while improving soil fertility.Through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQUIP), Brick invested in an additional 2.9-million-gallon concrete manure structure to contain manure and milk house waste through the winter until it can be spread safely as fertilizer in the spring on his 900 acres of crop and hay ground. READ MORE
July 31, 2017, Waunakee, WI - A coalition of government, farmers, businesses and clean water advocates have come up with plan to help more farmers in southern Wisconsin apply liquid manure more effectively without disturbing the soil so other conservation practices can be protected.Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the partnership July 13 at Carl F. Statz and Sons machinery dealer in Waunakee, another partner in the project.The effort will make available a Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar – a way to apply liquid manure while cutting down on soil erosion, odors and the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields, Parisi said during a short ceremony."Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy while providing farmers with innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way," he said.Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and the toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from the Waunakee-based implement dealer to haul the tanker and LDMI toolbar on each participant's fields.The county's share of the deal is contingent upon approval of the allocation by the county board.Brian Peterson, with Field's, a Mt. Horeb-based manure handling business, said it makes sense to him to have a specific tractor dedicated to using the manure-injection equipment."That will give it uniformity from use to use," he said. "They wanted to have something that any farmer could use."The unit which was at the press conference is one that is being used on a Waunakee area farm, Henson Brothers Dairy, and several other farmers in the watershed are using the technology. Field's will supply a new manure tanker, toolbar and unit once the deal is finalized.The technology was shown to farmers at a Yahara Pride field day and it created a lot of interest, Peterson said. "Farmers like it because you can't see a lot of disturbance after it goes over the field – not like you'd see with a shovel-type injector."The flow is based on a pump and PTO speed as well as tractor speed, he explained and the unit coming for Yahara Pride will have a flow meter which will indicate to the driver how many gallons are going on."This system, once it was showcased in this watershed, built interest further away than just right around here," Peterson said. "It has been building interest through the county and the region." READ MORE 
July 17, 2017, Madison, WI – Dane County is teaming up with local organizations, businesses and farmers to continue phosphorus reduction efforts in the Yahara Watershed, County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently. The new public, private partnership will allow farmers to more effectively apply manure by injecting it directly into the ground, reducing the amount of nutrients that run off into local waterways. “By using this equipment, farmers will be able to cut down on soil erosion, reduce odors, and decrease the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields,” said Parisi. “Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy, while providing farmers with the innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way.” In the agreement, Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from Carl F. Statz and Sons Inc., a farm implement dealer based in Waunakee, to haul the tanker and LDMI bar across each participant’s property. Yahara WINS is led by the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District and will use funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance to finance its share of the endeavor. “Yahara WINS is pleased to partner with the Yahara Pride Farm Group, Dane County and the Clean Lakes Alliance to provide opportunities for farmers to gain experience with low disturbance manure injection –an approach that will improve water quality by reducing the amount of phosphorus reaching our streams, rivers and lakes,” said Dave Taylor, consulting director for Yahara WINS. Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led, nonprofit organization and was the first to bring this minimal soil disturbance technology for manure to Wisconsin farmers. To date, the program has covered over 3,600 acres of land and reduced 5,500 pounds of phosphorus on the Yahara Watershed using this manure technique. In 2016 alone, Yahara Pride Farms’ low disturbance manure injection resulted in an estimated 1,100 pounds of phosphorus savings from more than 1,200 acres of land. “Farmers are leading progress toward collective water quality goals in the Yahara Watershed,” said Jeff Endres, chairman of Yahara Pride Farms. “Managing how nutrient-rich manure is applied to farm fields is a key component to achieving these goals.” Last year, Dane County implemented and tracked more than 313 conservation practices and systems, resulting in 18,392 pounds of phosphorus being reduced in the Yahara Watershed. Under this new partnership, the manure injector is projected to reduce 1.5 pounds of phosphorus per acre of land each year. Participants of the program will be charged a fee to cover operator costs, tractor rental, repair and maintenance, scheduling and insurance. To reduce participant expenses, Dane County developed a cost share program for individual farmers and custom haulers to purchase the LDMI toolbar. Currently, two cost share agreements totaling $46,495.50 have been approved to purchase the toolbar equipment. The Yahara WINS executive committee approved the grant request to fund 50 percent of the costs for a tanker and LDMI toolbar with funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance in June. The Dane County board of supervisors is currently reviewing a resolution committing up to $60,000 in county dollars to match the committee’s funds. Yahara Pride Farms will provide an annual report to the Dane County Land Conservation Division and Yahara WINS detailing treated field locations, number of acres covered, and pounds of phosphorus reduced. Previously, Yahara Pride Farms partnered with a local equipment dealer to provide a tanker and LDMI toolbar for individual farmers to use and gain experience with the technology.
July 5, 2017, Greenville, OH - With corn needing nitrogen, and pigs and cattle producing a lot of it, anything that offers a better way to use their waste to fortify crops should intrigue farmers.Two agriculture experts at The Ohio State University have redesigned a metal tractor attachment so that it allows farmers to put manure on a field while crops are emerging.Applying manure to growing crops, which is not widely done in Ohio or nationwide, can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses, and give livestock producers and commercial manure applicators another window of time to unload their waste and enrich their crops.Made by Bambauer Equipment in New Knoxville, Ohio, the metal toolbar, which is attached to a tractor, receives waste pumped through a hose from a livestock facility manure pit. The manure is fed through the toolbar, which injects the manure 3 to 5 inches into the soil between the rows of growing corn, then covers the manure with soil.The manure sidedress toolbar attachment was built with contributions from the Columbus Foundation, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Goodfield, Illinois-based DSI Inc., a manufacturer of manure and nitrogen injection systems.While draglining manure, a process that involves applying manure through a hose that pumps it directly from the livestock facility, is not new to many Ohio farmers, it is rarely used to apply manure on a growing crop."During the growing season, farmers have been concerned that running machinery over a field with an emerging crop could crush the crop and compact the soil, leaving less space among the soil particles for easy flow of water, air and nutrients," said Glen Arnold, a manure management specialist with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the university's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Arnold designed the modified toolbar with Sam Custer, an OSU Extension educator in Darke County.Traditionally the manure of pigs and cattle, which is primarily liquid, is applied on the surface of fields in fall, after harvest. But without a growing crop on the field to take in the nutrients, much of the nitrogen either runs off the field or percolates through the soil uncaptured, Arnold said."A growing crop will reach out and grab much of that nitrogen," Arnold said. "It will love it."In recent years, there has been increased interest in applying livestock manure on newly planted corn and soybean fields to foster their growth and provide another chance for farmers with pigs or cattle to use their accumulating animal waste.For the past five years, Arnold has conducted research on methods of doing that. Initially, he used a tanker filled with liquid manure that was applied to young corn fields in several western Ohio counties. But the dragline and manure sidedress toolbar, compared to a tanker, weigh less and are faster and more efficient, Arnold pointed out. Also, the dragline and toolbar cause very few plants to be crushed to death.For three years, the manure sidedress toolbar has been tested on fields in Darke County, which annually produces the second highest number of hogs across the state – and a whole lot of manure. The manure sidedressed fields produced 13 more bushels of corn per acre compared to fields where synthetic fertilizers were applied, Arnold said.The savings in using manure instead of synthetic fertilizer are about $80 an acre, he said."There's always a cost to the livestock farmer to apply manure to farm fields. By capturing more of the nitrogen in the manure, the farmer can reduce the need to purchase commercial fertilizer and make a bigger profit," he said.While the manure sidedress toolbar can also be used on fields of soybeans and wheat, corn needs the most nitrogen, Arnold said.Some Ohio farmers are concerned that the dragline could kill some of the newly emerging plants, by crushing them as it is pulled through the field, Custer said.But the research on the Darke County fields does not show that, Custer said. When corn is about 3 inches high, running a dragline hose across a field is not going to hurt the corn though it may initially appear to be bent over after the dragline goes across the field, Custer said."In a week's time, they'll be standing right back up," he said.Ohio farmers interested in trying the manure sidedress toolbar can do so for free to see how it might work on their fields."We want to put it in more farmers' hands," Custer said. "We want to see more farmers using manure as a nutrient rather than seeing it as a waste product."Anyone who wants to try the manure sidedress toolbar can contact Arnold at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 419-235-4724. Darke County farmers can contact Sam Custer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling 937-548-5215.For more information about the manure sidedress toolbar and to watch a video on it, see go.osu.edu/manureapplicator.
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
August 10, 2017 – Manure is a reality in raising farm animals. Manure can be a useful fertilizer, returning valued nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil for plant growth. But manure has problems. Odor offensiveness, gas emissions, nutrient runoff, and possible water pollution are just a few. Timing is also a problem. Livestock produce manure 24/7 – even when it is impractical or unwise to move it to the field. Delivering manure to the field needs to be timed to nutrient needs, soil moisture levels, and temperature. How can farmers handle this timing issue, as well as other manure problems? In cities, sewers and water treatment facilities deal with human waste. On farms, manure storage lagoons can hold the manure until the time is ripe. This solves the timing and delivery problem – but what about odor and gas emissions? In addition to the inconvenience of odor, manure can release gases connected to air pollution and climate change. Methane, nitrous oxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide are examples. Scientist Brian Dougherty and colleagues researched methods to reduce these negatives while potentially adding some positives: biochar covers. Biochar is plant matter, such as straw, woody debris, or corn stalks, that has been heated to high temperatures in a low- to no-oxygen environment. The result is a black, carbon-rich material similar to charcoal. Dougherty says biochar is like a sponge. “Biochar provides a structure with lots of empty pore space,” he says. “The outer surface may appear small but the interior surface area is absolutely massive. A few ounces of biochar can have an internal surface area the size of a football field. There is a lot of potential there for holding on to water and nutrients.” In addition to its hidden storage capacity, the surface of the biochar tends to have a chemical charge. This gives biochar the ability to attract and hold nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ions, metals, and other compounds. Biochar can also float (some types more than others). That attribute means it can trap gases at the water’s surface. Growing up on a dairy farm, Dougherty is no stranger to the challenges of manure storage. “Once I realized the properties of biochar, I thought it had good potential for a lagoon cover,” he says. Dougherty’s research studied two liquid dairy manures with differing nutrient levels. It also studied two types of biochars, made at different temperatures. Biochar is somewhat fickle, showcasing different properties when created at different temperatures. He also included pails of manure with a straw cover for comparison, and au natural with no cover as his control. The research found that the biochars picked up the most nutrients from the more concentrated manure with a higher nutrient content. “The biochar will take up whatever it can, so if there are more nutrients available the potential for nutrient uptake is greater,” Dougherty says. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are nutrients with the greatest economic value on a farm, but applying them in excess of what the crop can take up can lead to nutrient loss to the watershed. Dougherty also measured the ammonia at the top of each pail. Ammonia and sulfates are the main source of manure’s odor. The cooler-crafted biochar did best here, reducing ammonia by 72 to 80 percent. It also floated better. But because it floated better and tended to repel water, it was less effective at attracting and attaching to the nutrients than the warmer-crafted biochar. Biochar is currently more expensive to buy than straw, but Dougherty is undaunted. Biochar could have a good economic return: excess farm and forestry residue could be used to create the biochar on site. This process generates energy that could be used heat water and warm buildings during colder months. There is also potential for generating electricity, fuels, and other by-products using more sophisticated equipment. After its use in the lagoon, the biochar could be spread on fields as needed. Any excess could be sold as a high-value fertilizer product. And biochar has great environmental benefits. “Anything you can do to prevent gases from escaping the lagoon is a good thing,” Dougherty says. “Biochar applied to soils – particularly poorer quality soils – is very helpful. Making biochar can also help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. A portion of the carbon dioxide that was taken in during plant growth ends up as a very stable form of carbon in the soil. The overall picture has multiple benefits.” Dougherty’s research did not avoid the obvious. Would biochar or straw best improve the dairy air? Since the human nose knows, Dougherty recruited a panel of judges. The weather intervened, however, with freezing temperatures and rain affecting the odor intensity over the 12-week trial. Despite these challenges, three different biochars were shown to reduce odor from liquid dairy manure, whereas a straw cover was not effective. “Determining the best trade-off of biochar properties will be an important next step,” Dougherty says. “More research could find the right biochar production temperature, particle size, pH, and float properties. The potential is there.” This portion of the research still needs to be sniffed out. Read more about Dougherty’s biochar research in Journal of Environmental Quality.
August 1, 2017, Ames, IA – Summer is here and it’s brought dry weather throughout much of the state. This type of weather is a great time to check over your manure management systems and make sure it will keep doing its job. A great place to start is with your manure storage. Fall application season is still a ways away, but a little planning now can make sure you have the flexibility to manage your manure like the fertilizer resource it is, and to make sure your storage will keep functioning for years to come. Proper management and maintenance is necessary to prevent manure from overflowing or discharging from a storage system. Whether the manure storage is in an earthen tank, a slurry store, or a deep pit, the basic principles to maintaining and managing the storage structure are similar. In any case, frequent evaluation and preventative maintenance will significantly reduce your risk and keep your manure where you want it. Monitor the operating level of your manure storages. Have a staff gauge or a method for determining how much manure is already in your storage. Keeping track of how much manure is there can give insight into if you have enough capacity to make it to your next land application window. If you are worried you may run short this will give you an early opportunity to evaluate how you are going to handle the situation when your storage gets full. Monitoring the level can also alert you to if anything unexpected is occurring, for instance, your manure storage isn’t filling up or filling up really quickly because of a water leak or outside drainage water getting in. Visual structure inspection. A quick look over the storage can tell you a lot about how your structure is holding up – as you walk around, pay close attention to inlet points, connections, and where the sidewalls connect to the base. To make this easier make sure you are mowing around your storage and cutting down trees, watching for animal burrows, and making sure clean water is being diverted around your manure storage structure. Odor evaluation. I know odor can be a stink of a topic, but it’s something we have to deal with. Make it a part of your routine to go around your farm once a week and make a note of the odor intensity and what neighbors may be smelling. Unfortunately there usually are not easy fixes, but for those of you interested in learning more about potential odor options check out AMPAT. Safety check. We all recognize there are some safety challenges to working in and around manure storage systems. Take the time to review your safety protocols and update as needed. Taking the time to go over them will remind everyone that they are important and to protect us. While you are at it make sure to check any fences, escape ladders, and warning signs you have posted to make sure they are still in good shape, readable, and present. Clean water diversions. Minimizing outside water entering a manure storage helps keep nutrient concentrations higher making it an economic fertilizer for a farm to use. Check over the clean water diversions around your farm to make sure things like silage piles, mortality compost piles, and in-ground manure storage piles aren’t receiving water from other areas. Application equipment. Manure equipment lives a tough life, it gets used quick for a month and then put away. Take the time to check it over now before you need it again this fall and get that one last part that you’ve been meaning to fix.
July 6, 2017, New York - If you buy a house on the 9 million acres of agricultural districts in New York state, you sign a disclosure form that says the farmers near you have the "right to farm" even when it causes noise, dust and odors.Still, when a farmer decides to build a lagoon to store millions of gallons of liquid manure, the neighbors are often disappointed to find out they have little say in the matter. They can also be shocked to hear that government sometimes requires manure storage and even helps pay for it.Since 1994, 461 manure storages have been built with state financial help, according to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. Others are privately or federally funded.The "Right to Farm" is a state law that protects 25,316 farms on 6.5 million of those 9-million acres of agricultural districts. The rest of that land is occupied by people who do not farm.Mike McMahon, of McMahon's EZ Acres in Homer, allowed us to fly a drone over the lagoon on his dairy farm and explained how it was designed.McMahon, other farmers and government officials say storage is the best practice to protect the environment from runoff.Storage allows farmers to spread manure on fields on only the best days - when the soil is dry and less likely to run off of wet and frozen ground into lakes and streams. READ MORE
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

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