From the Editor: November-December 2018
Far more than a byproduct
Early on in my career as a journalist I was graciously given the opportunity to write for an agricultural publication. It was a new adventure for me after covering community news for a number of years.
In my first year I attended a livestock conference in Alberta that discussed various cattle grazing systems. My editor at the time posed me with the challenge of returning to Manitoba to find out what kinds of grazing systems producers in the province were adopting and how they were impacting beef production.
After a little bit of research, I linked up with the Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association. For two summers I attended and reported on a number of their field days and workshops held on cattle operations across southwestern Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, learning about planned grazing systems, rotational management, soil health, microbes, ruminants, poly cropping and pasture management.
More often than not, in the summer months you could find me in the middle of a Saskatchewan pasture in the scorching July sun staring at, and listening to a fellow talk about cow poop and the bugs that were living in his cow’s poop. These field days were my introduction to the manure industry. They provide me the opportunity to connect with cattle producers and develop an understanding and appreciation for the value of an often-under-appreciated byproduct.
Fast forward a few years and now, after a year as associate editor of Manure Manager magazine, I am taking on the role of editor. And, I look forward to continuing to stand in pastures and stare at poop.
All kidding aside, where I really find my passion in this sector is in the areas of environmental management. As you will see from the numbers on America’s chicken consumption (see page 6), livestock production is an inevitable part of our society, and with it comes a number of environmental risks. Mitigating these risks is an enormous responsibility that so many farmers take upon themselves.
In this, Manure Manager’s poultry-themed issue, there are a number of great examples of of how farmers are innovating to reduce their impact on the environment. For instance, our cover story, the Smotherman family, which you can find on page 10.
Not only has Ken Smotherman been able to streamline manure management on his turkey farm outside of Waco, Tex. (and earn a few industry awards while doing so), he has also developed a nutrient management tracking computer program that has enabled him to track all manure-laden litter that is gathered and transported for land application. Thus, ensuring that the right nutrients are put in the right field, while minimizing potentially harmful run off.
Moving forward in my new role as editor, I hope to fill these pages with even more profiles of innovative producers and operations that are pushing the limits to find a better way of doing things, as well as informative research, industry insights and practical takeaways for today’s livestock producer and custom applicators.