Manure Manager

In the News: May/June 2008

July 11, 2008  by Manure Manager

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New fact sheet on ammonia loss
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development recently released a new fact sheet called Ammonia Emissions from Confined Feeding Operations (CFOs): Control and Mitigation (Agdex #729-4). This fact sheet aims to help farmers quantify the amount of ammonia loss that occurs while applying manure to land. Farmers can also learn about the factors that positively and negatively affect ammonia losses, and learn best management practises to control ammonia losses from the land application of manure. It can be viewed by visiting$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex12072 or can be ordered by calling 1-800-292-5697.

Bion plans installation at Pennsylvania dairy

A large dairy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is to be the newest location for Bion Environmental Technologies’ Nutrient Management System, designed to reduce ammonia emissions and nutrients in the effluent.

Bion recently announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the dairy to retrofit its existing operation. The installation will initially treat the manure from the main 1400 head dairy barn, with follow-on expansions designed to capture the remaining manure from the milk house, heifers, dry cows, calves and potentially the manure from a poultry facility also on the farm.

Bion hopes the project will fall under Pennsylvania’s nutrient credit trading program, which was established to provide cost-effective reductions of the excess flow of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including the Susquehanna River. The program is similar to the U.S. acid rain ‘cap and trade’ program that achieved 100 percent compliance in reducing sulfur dioxide emissions in the 1990s at a fraction of the cost that was originally anticipated.

Although nutrient credits have not been previously certified for ammonia reductions, based on discussions with the Pennsylvania DEP, Bion anticipates that more than 40 percent of the nutrient credits it generates at the Lancaster County installation will come from the reduction of ammonia emissions. The balance of credits will be generated from the reduction of soluble form nitrogen and phosphorus in the effluent.

Stronger embankments start in the laboratory

The safety of earthen embankments, including those found in some manure lagoons, depends in large part on how resistant they are to erosion. That resistance can hinge on the soil materials used in their construction.

Hydraulic engineers Gregory J. Hanson and Sherry L. Hunt work at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Hydraulic Engineering Research Unit in Stillwater, Oklahoma. They have refined methods for estimating the erodibility of large embankment structures with a lab-scale version of the Jet Erosion Test (JET). Hanson developed JET to evaluate the condition of streams and dam embankments. In the field, JET applies stresses to soil beds with a water jet that can be pumped at various flow rates.

The team studied the roles of compaction effort – the mechanical force needed to increase soil density – and water content in soil erosion. They measured compaction effort using standard engineering tests, which involve dropping a hammer onto soil samples from a specific distance for a specified number of times. As part of their evaluation of compaction effort, they also varied the soil water content, which affects soil plasticity, in their samples.

The engineers observed that the erodibility of their laboratory samples varied significantly between the two soil types they tested, which were a silty sand and a silty clay. Both soil types also exhibited a large range of erosion, depending on compaction effort and water content. For instance, laboratory soil samples that were compacted while containing optimum levels of water showed a significantly stronger resistance to erosion. Higher compaction efforts also increased erosion resistance, and soil texture and plasticity influenced erosion resistance as much, or sometimes even more, than compaction factors.

The team compared these results with large-scale field controls and found that the lab-scale JET tests accurately assessed soil erodibility in samples as small as 10cm in diameter. Overall, these results indicate that soil type and compaction factors can be used to make soil at least 1000 times more resistant to erosion. These findings can help engineers factor in soil type and other variables to predict embankment failure rates.

Michigan manure research receives funding

Seven research projects at Michigan State University – including four
involving manure management – received more than $350,000 in state funding from the Animal Agriculture Initiative Coalition (AIC).

The projects were selected from approximately 20 proposals submitted to the AIC addressing challenges identified by livestock industry leaders as affecting livestock producers and their industries in the state. Proposals were ranked on the basis of the issues identified as high priority by industry leaders, MSU extension area of expertise teams and the AIC. Manure management projects funded for 2008-09 include:

  • Utilizing Wetlands for the Diversion, Retention and Natural Treatment of Tile-Line Effluent from Manured Cropland – Tim Harrigan.

  • Developing an Integrated Animal Manure Operation to Produce a

  • High-Quality and Large Quantity Lignocellulosic Feedstock for

  • Bio-Ethanol Refinery – Wei Liao.

  • The Scoop Newsletter on Animal Agriculture and the Environment – Wendy Powers.

  • Boron Treatment of Stored Swine Manure Slurry to Reduce Hydrogen Sulfide and Conserve Ammonia Nitrogen and Sulfur on a Commercial Swine Farm – Mel Yokoyama.

Cornell WMI honored

The Cornell Waste Management Institute at Cornell University was recently honored with a 2007 Research and Extension (R&E) Award from the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Science. The institute – which includes team members Ellen Harrison, Jean Bonhotal, Mary Schwarz, and Lauri Wellin – develops and conducts integrated research and extension projects focused on managing organic residuals. With active stakeholder engagement, including the New York Department of Transportation and other agencies, CWMI has influenced recent policy issues, including the adoption of new fertilizer rules in New York that address composts, national, and state standards for composting livestock mortalities, regulations for use of sewage sludge, and standards for soil clean-up.

More than 125 colleagues, family, and friends gathered to honor CWMI
staff plus the other award recipients, who were nominated by their peers for their accomplishments in the field and laboratory.

“The colleagues we recognize today exemplify the ideals of our land-grant mission and our quest for discovery,” says Susan A. Henry, the dean of agriculture and life sciences. “We are grateful for their contributions to the people of New York, the nation and the world.”

ManureNet documents find new online home

A server at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada is now the new online home of a set of agriculture-environment documents dating back more than 12 years.

ManureNet, a national information resource and co-ordination centre for manure and nutrient management issues in Canada, was originally launched by Dr. Bruce Bowman, a soil chemist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) research branch in London, Ontario, in April 1998 as a pilot project funded by the Hog Environmental Management Strategy (HEMS). By 2006, the website contained more than 200 environmental reports from a range of government funded projects and programs plus thousands of links.

In August 2006, Dr. Bowman retired and with him went AAFC’s interest in maintaining the site, which was ultimately taken off-line in September 2007. Dr. Bowman donated the entire website archive to the University of Guelph’s library in June 2007 with the understanding the archive would be placed online through its website. The library has been delayed in uploading the information so instead, a server maintained by Dr. Chris Duke, a researcher with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ (OMAFRA) environmental management unit, will be housing the archive.

“I hope that these archives can continue to be useful to the public, as they are probably the last remaining traces of these valuable environmental programs in existence,” said Dr. Bowman. “They represent an investment of more than $100 million by the federal government in Ontario environmental initiatives over the 1970 to 1997 period.” The archives can be viewed at


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