From the Editor: So fresh and so clean, clean!
November 8, 2023 by Bree Rody
Here’s a fun, behind-the-scenes fact about Manure Manager: there’s not that much time between our September-October (safety) issue and our November-December (liquid manure) issue. This is, naturally, due to our own internal production schedule, but that sprint between issues helps to create an interesting perspective: the issue productions essentially border harvest season.
Living in a community fueled by agriculture means that harvest brings out the emotions. There’s triumph – just take a walk through our downtown on a Friday evening and you’ll see plenty of high spirits after a long week of work – but there’s also concern. Whether this year’s crop was too wet, the yield was lower or the quality was not as expected, there will always be fodder for worry, and talk of what adjustments to make for next year.
It also means the distant smell of fall spreading is a rather pleasant aroma! It’s a misconception that spreading is a “stinky” time; well-treated manure can actually smell rather earthy and even pleasant. There are numerous factors which go into this; anaerobic digestion or aerobic treatments (aeration) are different processes which can help reduce odors while also increasing the overall quality of manure that is eventually applied. Application methods also play a factor; manure that is injected rather than broadcast will greatly reduce odors, sometimes by as much as 90 percent. Some jurisdictions require that injection be incorporated into a nutrient management plan, as there are also environmental benefits to injection. While there are some factors that mean injection isn’t ideal for everyone (see Page 8 for Jeff Tribe’s feature that digs deep into injection), it’s an option which should be explored if it’s available to you.
Personally, I stopped smelling the manure smell in the air a couple weeks ago – which was around the time it started getting darker at my usual wake-up time. The season was capped off with a few local traditions – from our famous county fair to a weekend-long “Pumpkinfest” – which goes to show the general appreciation for agriculture still runs high in communities that are close to ag. While I still see the occasional vehicle in the fields, the bustle has died down. It’s now time to think forward to next year.
With the off-season being a great time to make executive decisions, it’s a good time to talk to your producer peers about switching to manure – or, if they’re already using manure, how to make their nutrient management plan work even better for them, their crop and the earth. There’s always so much to consider when it comes to your manure management plan, which is why we aim to provide as much useful information as possible – especially during this crucial “off-season.”
In the meantime, I will spend my winter looking forward to the smell of productivity returning to the local air. •