February 12, 2018, Greenwich, N¥ – As winter manure spreading regulations have tightened over the years, dairy farmers must consider ways to expand manure storage, especially those whose herds are growing. About 90 people turned out recently for “Managing Dairy Manure Systems: Sharing Experiences of Farmers and Engineers,” a program put on by Washington County Extension. They learned the pros and cons of different practices such as hauling, satellite lagoons, pumps and draglines, and how to implement such systems. READ MORE
January 19, 2018, Holland, MN – The Pipestone County Board of Adjustments, over the objections of a handful of residents, approved a variance allowing a local farm to build a feedlot located less than a mile from the city limits of Holland. A variance was required because the county’s zoning ordinance prohibits new feedlots or expansions of existing feedlots within one mile of “the corporate limits of any incorporated community.” The proposed location is 220 feet short of the required mile. READ MORE
December 8, 2017, Madison, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources could adopt regional restrictions on manure spreading to help protect drinking water. Fifteen counties with bedrock consisting of Silurian dolomite and shallow topsoil are targeted: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha. New restrictions would affect the time and place where manure can be added on cropland. Areas with bedrock depth of two feet or less would not be able to have manure – liquid or solid – added. READ MORE
November 10, 2017, Kewaunee, WI – The Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance regulating manure irrigation at its Nov. 7 meeting. The Chapter 37 Agricultural Waste and Process Wastewater Irrigation Ordinance allows low pressure-drip irrigation at a height no greater than 18 inches to apply nutrients during the growing season. The vote was 19-0 with one supervisor excused. READ MORE
September 29, 2017, Bailey’s Harbor, WI – In a 3-2 vote, the Door County Land Conservation Committee decided to forward a letter to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), voicing support for the karst-targeted changes to NR 151, the state’s manure-handling rule, but also asking for clarification on the cost-sharing aspect of the new rules. Two farmers on the committee voted against the committee sending a letter of support after hearing from many farmers who believe they will lose about 30 percent of their cropland for spreading manure under the proposed rules. READ MORE
September 25, 2017, Sauk Centre, MN – More farmers will bring feedlots into compliance in Minnesota’s number one dairy-producing county — cutting pollution to a Mississippi River tributary in the process — thanks to Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District staff’s ability to leverage federal funds and provide technical assistance. The SWCD is targeting the top five contributors to the nutrient-impaired Sauk River and Sauk River chain of lakes. Sauk River Watershed District monitoring showed elevated phosphorous, sediment and bacteria levels. The SWCD typically takes on 10 to 20 feedlot projects a year. A $392,500 Clean Water Fund grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will allow the SWCD to stretch its resources even further as it strives to eliminate contaminated feedlot runoff. READ MORE
February 13, 2018, Nandua, VA – Virginia is proposing a new permit to require more boots-on-the-ground monitoring for some farms. It includes some quarterly inspections and stormwater discharge sampling. The hundreds of thousands of tons of manure produced each year close to the Chesapeake Bay worries residents of Virginia's Eastern Shore. READ MORE
February 12, 2018, Celina, OH – The state has issued a Grand Lake Watershed farmer a violation and $500 civil penalty for violating the distressed watershed rules, Mercer County Soil and Water Conservation District board members learned. This is the first time the Ohio Department of Agriculture has imposed a fine for a distressed watershed rule violation. The state received the authority to issue civil penalties only last year. READ MORE
February 7, 2018, Lancaster, PA – Pennsylvania’s largest farms may soon be operating under new regulations that will streamline some requirements while mandating additional safeguards against water pollution. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has proposed the new regulations for so-called concentrated animal feeding operations, defined as farms with more than 300 animals. READ MORE
February 7, 2018, Pierre, SD – County commissions should have authority over whether livestock and dairy producers can run pipelines of animal manure through neighbors’ road ditches, and then pump the waste onto fields as fertilizer, a South Dakota lawmaker testified recently. Rep. Jason Kettwig, R-Milbank, said HB 1184 would expand South Dakota utilities laws to allow waste disposal pipelines along roadways. The House Transportation Committee agreed, voting 8-5 to recommend its passage. READ MORE
February 5, 2018, Montpelier, VT – Gov. Phil Scott sketched out a plan at a recent dairy conference that could include making money from the pollutant plaguing Vermont’s waterways – phosphorus. The proposal to “crowdsource” ideas to remove phosphorus from cow manure included no specific reduction goals and could take a minimum of 18 to 24 months to implement. READ MORE
January 29, 2018, Montpelier, VT – Vermont has a problem. The state is $1.2 billion short of the funding it will need to meet federal targets for reducing pollution in state waterways. To solve that problem, Gov. Phil Scott recently suggested a creative solution in his budget address – turning the pollutant into a commodity and selling it out of state. The pollutant is phosphorus, a primary ingredient of fertilizer, which is widely used in farming. READ MORE
January 5, 2018, Port Reyes, CA – The lawsuit against the Point Reyes National Seashore has stalled three park ranchers hoping to implement carbon sequestration practices to combat climate change. The practices range from the reduced tilling of grazing lands to the restoration of riparian areas, but a condition in the suit that prohibits new or expanded uses on ranchlands managed by the seashore could prevent the ranchers from adopting them. READ MORE
November 28, 2017, Washington, DC – On November 22, 2017 – in response to a request from the Environmental Protection Agency – the DC Circuit Court of Appeals extended the deadline for farmers to report air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at livestock operations until January 22, 2018. The decision postponed the effective date of the court’s April 2017 decision vacating an EPA rule that exempted these farms from certain statutory reporting obligations. “EPA is committed to providing America’s farmers and ranchers – people committed to conserving the land and the environment- the clarity needed in meeting their reporting obligations required by law,” said Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator. The EPA sought this additional time in order to provide compliance assistance to farmers, update its guidance, and develop a more-streamlined reporting form. With the court’s decision, farmers are not required to report emissions from animal waste at these facilities until after the court issues its mandate, expected no sooner than January 22, 2018. On April 11, 2017, the DC Circuit Court vacated an EPA rule finalized on December 18, 2008, that exempted most farms from certain release reporting requirements in two statutes, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). In response to a request from the EPA, the DC Circuit Court extended the effective date of its decision to vacate the 2008 rule to November 15, 2017. In response to a second request from the current administration EPA, the DC Circuit Court further extended that date to January 22, 2018. As such, farmers now do not need to report emissions under CERCLA until January 22, 2018 at the earliest when the D.C. Circuit Court is expected to issue its mandate. The EPA has prepared guidance that includes links to resources that farmers can consider when calculating emissions for specific species of livestock. To view EPA’s guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on reporting air emissions from animal waste: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/cercla-and-epcra-reporting-requirements-air-releases-hazardous-substances-animal-waste-farms.
As I write this, only a few days are left before livestock operations need to submit their air emissions data to the federal government under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). All poultry and livestock facilities that are likely to emit more than 100 pounds of ammonia or hydrogen sulfide in a 24-hour period are required to report their initial continuous release notification to the National Response Center.
November 10, 2017, Washington, DC – A House Subcommittee on the Environment held a hearing recently on a bipartisan bill to reduce the risk of farmers from citizen-led lawsuits. The Farm Regulatory Certainty Act has more than 60 co-sponsors, and was spearheaded by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif. Newhouse, a former Washington ag director, told the subcommittee about a Washington state dairy farmer who was operating under state nutrient management plans, but entered into a consent decree with EPA. Then a third party got records on the dairy and it was sued under an environmental act. READ MORE
September 29, 2017 – The National Corn Growers Association has asked the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and write a new rule that provides farmers with clarity and certainty, reduces red tape, and does not discourage farming practices that improve water quality. “Corn farmers take very seriously the important role we play in helping the country meet its water quality goals, as laid out in state and federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act,” said Wesley Spurlock, president of the NCGA. “We depend on clean water for our livelihood, and we are committed to conservation practices that protect our nation’s streams and rivers.” Spurlock called the 2015 rule inconsistent with the aims of the Clean Water Act, and noted that the rule also “has the perverse effect of making it harder for farmers to practice good soil and water conservation, nutrient management, and water quality protection practices.” Farming practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips reduce sediment and nutrient runoff. Instead of encouraging these types of farming practices, the 2015 rule effectively discouraged them, due to both the bureaucratic red tape, and fear of legal action. “We support the administration’s effort to create a new WOTUS rule, and we stand ready to work with them to ensure farmers have the clarity and certainty they need,” said Spurlock.
July 10, 2017, Washington, D.C. - The American Biogas Council, the trade association for the U.S. biogas industry, praises the recent introduction of the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act (H.R. 2853), House companion legislation to Senate bill 988. The House bill was introduced by Congressmen Ron Kind (D-WI-3) and Tom Reed (R-NY-23) with 22 original bipartisan cosponsors. That list of supporters recently grew to 25 including Rep. Susan Delbene (D-WA-01), Jackie Walorski (R-IN-02), Elise Stafanik (R-NY-21), Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4), Peter Welch (D-VT), Mike Simpson (R-ID-2), Kurt Schrader (D-OR-05), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-05), Joe Courtney (D-CT-2), David Valadao (R-CA-21), Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07), Todd Rokita (R-IN-04), Thomas Rooney (R-FL-17), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), Rod Blum (R-IA-01), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-16), John Katko (R-NY-24), Steve Stivers (R-OH-15), Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), Chris Collins (R-NY-27), Tim Walz (D-MN-01), Sean Duffy (R-WI-07), and John Faso (R-NY-19).This bill, along with the Senate companion bill, (S. 988) introduced in early May, will increase agricultural viability by helping to deploy new nutrient recovery and biogas systems that recycles organic material into baseload renewable energy and healthy soil products. The Act provides a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC) for qualifying biogas and nutrient recovery systems."For a healthy economy, we need healthy soils and clean waterways. Biogas and nutrient recovery systems help us achieve cleaner, healthier soil and water and the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act will increase the deployment of these systems," said Patrick Serfass, Executive Director of the American Biogas Council. "We thank Congressmen Reed, Kind and the other co-sponsors of this bill for recognizing the far reaching benefits of sustainable farming where organic material and nutrients should be recycled to create beneficial soil products, baseload renewable energy and jobs."The introduction of H.R. 2853, and the significant bipartisan support it has already received, reflects the critical need to support economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices that protect waterways and enrich soils. At the present time, there are no tax incentives to encourage biogas or nutrient recovery systems. A previous production tax credit under section 45 of the federal tax code which promoted the use of renewable electricity expired at the end of 2016. This new credit would promote the production of pipeline quality natural gas and compressed renewable natural gas vehicle fuel as well as nutrients which are essential to agricultural production."By creating incentives to make biogas and manure resource recovery technologies more affordable the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act will encourage more widespread use of manure digesters. This benefits society by decreasing nutrient runoff in waterways, decreasing farm odors, and improving water quality," said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.The Algae Biomass Organization's Executive Director, Dr. Matt Carr has also shared his organization's support. "By supporting investments in algae-based and other nutrient management systems, the Agriculture Environmental Stewardship Act will help farmers recycle valuable ag nutrients back into their operations and reduce the burden on taxpayers of recovering those nutrients downstream. It's a win-win for everyone."
February 9, 2018, Washington, DC – The National Pork Producers Council recently asked Congress for a legislative fix to a federal emergency response law that now requires farmers to report emissions from the natural breakdown of manure to the U.S. Coast Guard. Testifying on behalf of NPPC, Dr. Howard Hill told members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that livestock producers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency never believed routine agricultural emissions from manure constituted the type of emergency or crisis the law was intended to address. Last April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a 2008 EPA rule that exempted farmers from reporting routine farm emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA is mainly used to clean hazardous waste, and it and EPCRA include provisions that require entities to report on the release of various substances over certain thresholds. The appeals court ruling will force “tens of thousands of livestock farmers to figure out how to estimate and report their emissions,” testified Hill, a veterinarian and pork producer from Cambridge, Iowa, and past president of NPPC. (More than 100,000 livestock farmers likely will need to file emissions reports by a May 1 deadline.) He pointed out that while the pork industry is prepared to comply with CERCLA and EPCRA, EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard – which takes the emissions reports – and state and local emergency response authorities have said they don’t want or need the information, which could interfere with their legitimate emergency functions. Hill also told the committee that pork producers are committed to responsibly managing their animals and the manure they produce to protect water and air quality and to maximizing manure’s benefit and value as a source of nutrients for the crops they grow. He said the pork industry, which has worked cooperatively with environmental regulators at the state and federal levels, supports federal environmental policies that: give producers performance expectations that have a high probability of resulting in meaningful environmental improvements; are practical and affordable; and provide producers a realistic amount of time to adapt measures and associated systems to their operations so they can continue to be profitable and successful.
February 2, 2018, Milwaukee, WI – On February 1, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit extended a stay of air emissions reporting from livestock wastes through at least May 1, 2018. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had asked for an additional stay of 90 days to provide the agency additional time to prepare for any reporting obligations. In its motion for stay, the EPA cited a need for more time to refine guidance to industry on meeting the reporting obligations and to finalize agriculture-specific forms that would be used to report emissions from animal wastes to the EPA. Livestock industry groups supported the EPA’s request, while environmentalist and animal rights groups, who have previously pushed the court to apply these reporting obligations to farms, took no position on this latest request for stay. Meanwhile, industry groups are working on legislative solutions that would address the regulatory burden of reporting emissions of ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that occur on farms due to the natural breakdown of manure. In April 2017, the D.C. Circuit ruled that farms were required to report air releases of “hazardous substances” above certain thresholds under two federal environmental laws, despite the fact that Congress likely never intended those two laws to apply to farms. The EPA released guidance on those reporting obligations in November 2017. The court’s mandate, or order enforcing its ruling, has been stayed periodically since its decision last spring.
November 30, 2017, University Park, PA – A new study of methane emissions from livestock in the United States – led by a researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences – has challenged previous top-down estimates. The research was conducted because serious discrepancies exist between top-down estimates that suggest the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is underestimating agricultural methane emissions by up to 90 percent, and bottom-up estimates accepted by the federal government showing lower emissions. Top-down emissions estimates involve monitoring atmospheric methane concentrations by satellites or from air samples collected at high altitude by planes, and using models to estimate the sources of emissions. Bottom-up estimates take into account livestock populations and animal emission factors. In their detailed analysis, researchers used a spatially explicit, bottom-up approach, based on animal inventories and feed-intake-based emission factors, to estimate enteric methane emissions for cattle and manure methane emissions for cattle, swine and poultry for the contiguous United States. The researchers estimated methane emissions using a "gridded" approach, dividing the U.S. into 0.1 by 0.1-degree GIS units, which created cells from 31 square miles in the northern United States to 42 square miles in the southern part of the country. "This level of detail enabled us to more accurately assess agricultural methane emissions based on activities involving livestock," explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, who is a member of the current National Academy of Sciences Anthropogenic Methane Committee. "We must have more specific information about methane emissions that combines local livestock populations and characteristics with distribution of landscape features – and a gridded inventory approach provides that," he said. According to the EPA, the top three sources of anthropogenic methane in the United States are the combined energy sector – natural gas, petroleum systems and coal mining – which makes up 40 percent of the total; livestock, 36 percent of the total; and landfills, 18 percent of the total. Methane emissions from livestock operations are the result of microbial fermentation and methanogenesis in the forestomach of ruminants and similar fermentation processes in manure from both ruminant and non-ruminant farm animals. Methane is also produced from enteric fermentation in the digestive tract of non-ruminant herbivore species, such as horses, donkeys and mules, as a result of fermentation processes in their hindgut. However, "hindgut fermenters" do not produce nearly as much methane per unit of fermented feed as ruminants, so enteric or manure emissions from equine species were not included in this analysis. Neither were emissions from small ruminants such as sheep and goats, which are negligible in the U.S. County-level, annual enteric methane emissions for all states were estimated for cattle only. A total of 3,063 counties in the contiguous U.S. were included in the cattle methane emission database. Cattle inventories by county were obtained from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which is the last census data currently available. Body weight data for cattle was derived from EPA records and dry matter feed intake was estimated based on National Research Council prediction equations for the various categories of cattle. Methane emission yield factors were calculated for each cattle category. Overall, the research, which was published this month in Environmental Science and Technology, yielded total U.S. livestock methane emissions of 19.6 billion pounds per year. However, uncertainty surrounding that total is high, researchers acknowledged. Compared with enteric methane, predicting methane emissions from manure is a more complex process and carries a larger uncertainty in the estimates, the researchers pointed out. Manure composition, type of storage facilities and manure retention time, and environment – particularly temperature – are among the factors that affect methane emissions from manure. There is great uncertainty in both enteric and manure methane emissions from livestock, Hristov conceded. He said that research around the world has shown that variability in enteric methane emissions largely can be explained with variability in feed dry-matter intake. Nutrient composition of the feed is also important but has a lesser impact on enteric methane production. "If methane emissions from livestock in this country really are twice as high as what is estimated now — and we don't believe they are — that would put a big target on agriculture to take measures to cut these emissions," said Hristov. "Having an accurate and spatially explicit assessment of methane emissions from livestock is critical for reconciliation of top-down and bottom-up approaches, and it's the starting point in any mitigation effort." "Our analysis showed that the EPA’s estimates are close to reality, but there is a discrepancy in the spatial distribution of emissions. And, our research revealed a great discrepancy with global models such as the EDGAR (Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research) inventory." ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company partially funded this research.
November 14, 2017, Washington, DC – With a Nov. 15 deadline looming, the National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association recently filed a brief in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to delay a mandate that farmers report certain air emissions from manure on their farms. In April, a federal court, ruling on a lawsuit brought by environmental activist groups against the EPA, rejected an exemption for farms from reporting “hazardous” emissions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). CERCLA mainly is used to clean hazardous waste sites but has a federal reporting component, while EPCRA requires entities to report on the storage, use and release of hazardous substances to state and local governments, including first responders. The EPA had exempted farms from CERCLA reporting, reasoning that while emissions might exceed thresholds that would trigger responses under the law such responses would be “unnecessary, impractical and unlikely.” The agency limited EPCRA reporting to large, confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), requiring them to make one-time reports. Under the decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, all livestock farms, not just CAFOs, are required to report. Between 60,000 and 100,000 livestock and poultry farmers will need to file air emissions reports with the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC), beginning Nov. 15, as well as written reports with their regional EPA office within 30 days of reporting to the NRC. Some farmers already have tried filing reports, but the NRC system has been overwhelmed. NRC operators are refusing to accept reports for more than a single farm per call because of concern that the phone systems will be tied up for non-emergency purposes. In one instance, an NRC operator sent notices out to more than 20 state and federal response authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a state policy agency, after receiving a phone call. In seeking a second delay in implementing the CERCLA reporting mandate – the original filing deadline technically was the day the federal court threw out the exemption – the EPA, NPPC and the poultry and egg association are asking the court to give the agency more time to “provide farmers more specific and final guidance before they must estimate and report emissions” and to develop a system that will enable farmers to comply with their legal obligations.
October 27, 2017, Washington, DC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released guidance to assist farmers in reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste at farms. The EPA is making this information available to provide time for farmers to review and prepare for the reporting deadline, currently set for November 15, 2017 “EPA is working diligently to address undue regulatory burden on American farmers,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “While we continue to examine our options for reporting requirements for emissions from animal waste, EPA’s guidance is designed to help farmers comply with the current requirements.” On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted farms from reporting air releases of hazardous substances from animal waste. On April 11, 2017, the DC Circuit Court vacated this final rule. In response to a request from EPA, the DC Circuit Court extended the date by which farms must begin reporting these releases to November 15, 2017. Unless the court further delays this date, all farms (including those previously exempted) that have releases of hazardous substances to air from animal wastes equal to or greater than the reportable quantities for those hazardous substances within any 24-hour period must provide notification of such releases. The EPA guidance information includes links to resources that farmers can use to calculate emissions tailored to specific species of livestock. To view EPA’s guidance and Frequently Asked Questions on reporting air emissions from animal waste, click here: https://www.epa.gov/epcra/cercla-and-epcra-reporting-requirements-air-releases-hazardous-substances-animal-waste-farms. The EPA will revise this guidance, as necessary, to reflect additional information to assist farm owners and operators to meet reporting obligations. Interested parties may submit comments or suggestions by November 24, 2017.
October 2, 2017 – Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock, according to a study published in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. In a project sponsored by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Carbon Monitoring System research initiative, researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) found that global livestock methane (CH4) emissions for 2011 are 11 percent higher than the estimates based on guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2006. This encompasses an 8.4 percent increase in CH4 from enteric fermentation (digestion) in dairy cows and other cattle and a 36.7 percent increase in manure management CH4 compared to IPCC-based estimates. Revised manure management CH4 emissions estimates for 2011 in the U.S. from this study were 71.8 percent higher than IPPC-based estimates. "In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food,” said Dr. Julie Wolf, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), senior author of the study. “This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions. Methane is an important moderator of the Earth's atmospheric temperature. It has about four times the atmospheric warming potential of carbon dioxide. Direct measurements of methane emissions are not available for all sources of methane. Thus, emissions are reported as estimates based on different methods and assumptions. In this study, we created new per-animal emissions factors – that is measures of the average amount of CH4 discharged by animals into the atmosphere – and new estimates of global livestock methane emissions." The authors re-evaluated the data used to calculate IPCC 2006 CH4 emission factors resulting from enteric fermentation in dairy cows and other cattle, and manure management from dairy cows, other cattle and swine. They show that estimating livestock CH4 emissions with the revised emissions factors, created in this study, results in larger emission estimates compared to calculations made using IPCC 2006 emission factors for most regions, although emission estimates varied considerably by region. “Among global regions, there was notable variability in trends in estimated emissions over recent decades,” said Dr Ghassem Asrar, director of JGCRI and a co-author of study. “For example, we found that total livestock methane emissions have increased the most in rapidly developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. In contrast, emissions increased less in the U.S. and Canada, and decreased slightly in Western Europe. We found the largest increases in annual emissions to be over the northern tropics, followed by the southern tropics." The estimates presented in this study are also 15 percent larger than global estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only slightly smaller than estimates provided by the EPA for the U.S., four percent larger than EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research) global estimates, three percent larger than EDGAR estimates for U.S. and 54 percent larger than EDGAR estimates for the state of California. Both the EPA and EDGAR use IPCC 2006 default information, which may have contributed to the under estimations.
Mar. 8, 2013 - Manure spills happen for a range of reasons—a manure spreader rolls over, a hose breaks, a storage pond overflows after a relentless downpour. Whatever the cause, these events are such a threat to the environment that states have emergency teams to deal with the hazard. Typically, the responders build dams to contain the spill and then pump out the contaminated water. Although cleanup efforts start as quickly as possible, a fish kill in a nearby stream is often the first evidence that a spill has taken place. Another problem is that sediments in the contaminated water channel can capture phosphorus from the manure and release the nutrient back into the water—sometimes for months on end—at levels exceeding U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria. But there were few details available about the links between manure spills and phosphorus until Agricultural Research Service soil scientist Doug Smith and doctoral candidate Shalamar Armstrong began to study the issue. Smith, who works at the ARS National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory in West Lafayette, Indiana, was Armstrong's technical advisor throughout the study. ARS soil scientist Chi-hua Huang, also in West Lafayette, and soil scientist April Leytem, who works at the ARS Northwest Irrigation and Soils Research Laboratory in Kimberly, Idaho, were also part of the team. Sizing Up Sediments Armstrong collected sediments from two drainage ditches in the Cedar Creek subwatershed of the St. Joseph River Watershed in northeast Indiana. The land surrounding each ditch was primarily used for row cropping. Three sampling locations were selected so that the study would include sediments from drainage areas that ranged from 768 acres to 10,625 acres. This methodology also ensured that the scientists would be able to assess the effects of different particle size distributions and physiochemical properties on phosphorus absorption. The West Lafayette team added the sediments to an artificial water channel called a "fluvarium" and used swine manure minimally diluted with water to create their own worst-case manure "spill." Then, after 24 hours, they cleaned it up using standard operating protocols for remediating contaminated spill sites. The researchers found the spill simulation initially resulted in an average water column dissolved phosphorus concentration of 5.57 milligrams per liter. The concentrations dropped to between 0.19 and 0.21 milligrams per liter 24 hours later, but they still exceeded EPA standards for rivers, streams, and drainage ditches in the Cedar Creek subwatershed. The scientists also documented that after the spill, the channel sediments were able to capture significant amounts of phosphorus from the water, with adsorption rates ranging from 8.9 to 16.7 milligrams per square meter of sediment per hour. The finest clay loam sediments from the upstream channel sites adsorbed the greatest levels. "These clay loam sediments have a larger surface area available for the chemical reactions that bind the phosphorus to the sediments," Smith explains. "These sediments also have the highest levels of iron, aluminum, and organic carbon, all of which enhance the ability of the sediments to bind phosphorus." However, after the simulated spill cleanup, all the sediments released phosphorus back into the water at rates that caused the phosphorus level in the ditch water to exceed EPA's maximum level by at least 67 percent. Even though the fine-textured clay loam sediments adsorbed the highest levels of phosphorus, the course-textured sandy sediments from the largest drainage areas released the most phosphorus back into the water after cleanup was complete. "These results strongly suggested that the current approaches to remediating manure spills need improvement," Smith says. An Answer in Alum Fortunately, the team had some ideas about where to start looking for improvements. Earlier studies showed that adding alum to poultry litter, swine manure, and other agricultural byproducts substantially mitigates phosphorus release. So they ran a series of tests to see how well alum amendments could stop, or at least slow, the release of phosphorus deposited in channel sediments after manure spills. The researchers added different levels of an alum-calcium carbonate mix to the same sediments they tested in the first study. The calcium carbonate was included to prevent the acidic alum from significantly increasing the water's acidity. They observed that amending the contaminated sediments with 1.6 milligrams of alum-calcium carbonate per gram of sediment suppressed phosphorus release by 92 percent in sandy sediments and by 72 percent in clay loam and loamy sand sediments. Higher amendment levels suppressed phosphorus release in all three soil types by up to 100 percent. In general, greater rates of alum were needed to suppress phosphorus release from the clay loam sediments than from either the loamy sand or the sandy sediments. On average, clay loam sediments required 54 percent more alum to mitigate the release of phosphorus than sediments containing at least 60 percent sand. Adding calcium carbonate to the alum did not completely protect the water column from increased acidification. But water flowing over sediments amended with the alum-calcium carbonate mix was less acidic than water flowing over sediments amended solely with alum. Data from the study was used to develop models to predict the rate of alum application that would be needed to mitigate phosphorus release from contaminated sediments, based on sediment properties. "Our results demonstrated that alum can help sediments retain phosphorus after a manure spill," says Armstrong, who is now an assistant professor at Illinois State University. "We think it has potential for enhancing current manure spill remediation methods." Findings from both studies were published in the Journal of Environmental Quality in 2009 and the Journal of Environmental Monitoring in 2012. "These are the first studies that have examined in detail how manure spills affect in-stream phosphorus fate," adds Smith. This research is part of Water Availability and Watershed Management, an ARS national program (#211) described at www.nps.ars.usda.gov. "Measuring and Managing Impacts of Manure Spills" was published in the March 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
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Phosphorus Forum 2018Tue Feb 27, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 03:00PM
North Carolina Pork CongressWed Mar 07, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
6th International Symposium on Animal Mortality ManagementSun Jun 03, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 World Pork ExpoWed Jun 06, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Anaerobic Digester Operator Training – WisconsinTue Jun 19, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM