June 8, 2017, Charleston, WV – West Virginia’s Department of Agriculture says plans have been written for managing fertilizer and other nutrients on 90,000 acres in the state’s eight-county Chesapeake Bay drainage region.

Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt says West Virginia is furthest along among the bay’s watershed states toward the goal, which helps restore land for productive use. READ MORE
Published in State
Beef and dairy farmers obviously want to keep as much nitrogen as they can in the soil after they apply any type of manure to their fields, but there aren’t many recommendations out there about whether more N is retained through applying raw dairy manure or digestate (from anaerobic digesters).
Published in Other

January 18, 2017 – The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center has partnered with the Manure & Soil Health team to present four roundtables aimed at improving knowledge and understanding about the role of manure in soil health.

The four, hour-long roundtables will consist of a panel discussion with two to three experts who will be asked to summarize their current understanding of each roundtable topic. Each panel will also include a practitioner who will share perspective on critical information needs of farmers and advisors and field experiences relative to use of manure. Panels will be moderated to encourage interaction with audience. Roundtable participants will be invited to ask questions of panelists and share expertise and experience through polling pods and a chat box.

All of the roundtables start at 11 a.m. CT (noon ET) and in the following order:

  • Feb. 9, 2017 – Manure & soil health testing (Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune, Donna Brandt, Russell Dresbach, Geoff Ruth)
  • Feb. 16, 2017 – Manure & soil biology (Rhae Drijber, Michele Soupir, Dr. Jonathan Lundgren)
  • Feb.23, 2017 – Manure & soil erosion, runoff, and losses (Nathan Nelson, John Gilley, Mike Kucera, Andy Scholting)
  • March 9, 2017 – Manure & cover crops (Tim Harrigan, Barry Fischer, Heidi Johnson, Sarah Carlson)

Attendees are asked to register for the dates that correspond to the topics they are interested in. After registering, a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting will be sent.

If a microphone and speakers are available on the computer being used, phone line participation is not needed. For those new to Zoom, three short videos may prove helpful:

Published in Other

December 8, 2016, Rossburg, OH – When Ohio farmer Tom Harrod first heard about sidedressing hog manure, he was skeptical.

He went to a county extension program after talking to some farmers about their use of hog manure on growing corn, then he decided to give it a try. After achieving good yields without using commercial fertilizer, he became sold on the practice. Now, Harrod says, it’s driving profits in his operation. READ MORE

Published in Swine


Each year, more than 14 million tons of chicken litter is generated in the U.S. Studies have shown that using poultry litter to fertilize crops can be as effective as using synthetic fertilizers.

In a new study, researchers at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service have calculated how much chicken litter farmers need to apply to cotton crops to maximize profits.

“Most research focuses on the amount of poultry litter needed to maximize crop yields,” says Haile Tewolde, lead author of the study. “We wanted to know if aiming for maximum yield always makes economic sense for farmers.”

Tewolde and his colleagues found that it doesn’t. Using less chicken litter than what was needed to maximize crop yields actually increased profits for farmers. Profits increased even though crop yields were lower.

It might appear that higher crop yields would lead to higher profits. But using more fertilizer also increases costs for farmers. The researchers predicted that once an optimal amount of fertilizer had been applied to crops, any more would raise costs more than profits.

The study was conducted in two farms in Mississippi. Researchers applied varying amounts of chicken litter as fertilizer on replicated plots then compared yield and profitability. They also compared the use of synthetic fertilizers and chicken litter.

They found that chicken litter applications over a certain level did not result in net economic gains. Instead, it led to economic losses even though yields were somewhat higher.

Maximum cotton yields were achieved by applying between 9,000 to 12,000 pounds of chicken litter per acre. In contrast, applying about 7,000 pounds of chicken litter per acre each year was enough to maximize profits.

The researchers also confirmed studies that showed chicken litter to be as effective – sometimes more so – than synthetic fertilizers.

If farmers can use less poultry litter and still maximize profits, pollution can be managed more effectively.





Published in Poultry

October 25, 2016, Boonsboro, MD — “Nutrient management is alive and well in Maryland,” according to University of Maryland Extension agent Jeff Semler. One aspect of nutrient management is manure injection, which was featured during a recent field day at Debaugh Dairy Farm in Boonsboro.

The field day was funded in part by a grant from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bay’s Trust Fund, and attracted more than 150 people, most of them farmers. READ MORE

Published in Dairy

October 13, 2016, There are more chickens in the United States than people in the entire world. Raising huge numbers of chickens generates large quantities of waste. This waste includes feces, feather, and bedding materials – collectively called chicken litter.

Each year, more than 14 million tons of chicken litter is generated in the U.S. Other poultry – such as turkeys, ducks, and geese – also contribute litter. Poultry litter is often recycled as manure by farmers. Studies have shown that using poultry litter to fertilize crops, such as cotton, can be as effective as using synthetic fertilizers.

In a new study, researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service have calculated how much chicken litter farmers need to apply to cotton crops to maximize profits.

"Most research focuses on the amount of poultry litter needed to maximize crop yields," says Haile Tewolde, lead author of the study. "We wanted to know if aiming for maximum yield always makes economic sense for farmers."

Tewolde and his colleagues found that it doesn't. Using less chicken litter than what was needed to maximize crop yields actually increased profits for farmers. Profits increased even though crop yields were lower.

It might appear that higher crop yields would lead to higher profits. But using more fertilizer also increases costs for farmers. The researchers predicted that once an optimal amount of fertilizer had been applied to crops, any more would raise costs more than profits.

The study was conducted in two farms in Mississippi. The researchers applied varying amounts of chicken litter as fertilizer on replicated farm plots. Then, they compared yield and profitability between the seven plots. They also compared the use of synthetic fertilizers and chicken litter.

They found that chicken litter applications over a certain level did not result in net economic gains. Instead, it led to economic losses even though yields were somewhat higher.

Maximum cotton yields were achieved by applying between 9,000 to 12,000 pounds of chicken litter per acre. In contrast, applying about 7,000 pounds of chicken litter per acre each year was enough to maximize profits.

The researchers also confirmed studies that showed chicken litter to be as effective – sometimes more so – than synthetic fertilizers.

Poultry litter contains high levels of nitrogen, an important nutrient for plants. It also contains other minerals needed by crops, including phosphates and potash. Using poultry litter as manure also recycles a waste product and can benefit the environment.

However, using too much poultry litter can cause environmental pollution. Nitrogen and phosphorus in the poultry litter can dissolve in runoff from storms. These dissolved nutrients can pollute surface and ground waters. If farmers can use less poultry litter and still maximize profits, pollution can be managed more effectively.

"Ten to 15 years ago it was not common to use poultry litter as fertilizer for row crops such as cotton," says Tewolde.

Today, there is increasing acceptance of poultry litter as fertilizer, including in commercial farms. But research on the use of poultry litter as fertilizer is not often geared towards maximizing profit in larger, commercial farms.

"This is the first comprehensive study looking at chicken litter use and profitability in commercial farms," says Tewolde. "We are the first to identify ways to calculate optimal rates of applying chicken litter manure and maximize earnings at this scale of farming."

One benefit of conducting the study on commercial fields is that "farmers can start applying our findings straightaway," says Tewolde.

Though the study was conducted in Mississippi, it has wider implications.

"The approach we use to determine optimal rates of chicken litter application will be applicable in other cotton-growing areas around the country," says Tewolde.

Tewolde's research has been featured in Crop Science.

Published in Poultry

October 21, 2016, Columbus, OH – A new app from Ohio State University allows growers to compare the effectiveness of different management decisions within fields. The aim, in part, is to improve water quality throughout the state.

Called Ohio State PLOTS, the free app allows growers, as well as consultants and others who support growers, to design replicated plot layouts by creating on-farm trials that can compare hybrids, seeding populations, fertilizer rates and nutrient management systems, among other practices and inputs, said John Fulton, precision agriculture specialist for Ohio State University Extension.

The app allows users to digitally compare various treatments within their fields to determine the best management plan for their fields, before extending financial or labor resources, he said.

Fulton, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, said the app was designed as a tool to help improve water quality in Ohio by allowing users to fine-tune nutrient management more accurately and reliably for a farm operation and by encouraging on-farm studies.

“The app is a means where growers can set up trials specific to nutrient management to allow them to see what management decisions best impact their farm and offer the best financial and fertility decisions,” he said. “Users can fine-tune their nutrient management and maximize profits, all while minimizing environmental concerns.

“The app is a great way to help growers ensure their farm remains productive and profitable, as well as aiding in making smarter choices for cleaner water.”

The app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices, includes a random number generator that removes human error when developing plot layouts. The app allows users to define an experiment that compares various response parameters such as yield, stand counts, crop health and varieties, Fulton said.

“The app statistically analyzes these parameters,” he said. “Without having to be a statistician, users can review the mean or average comparisons within the summary report and determine the best fit for their farm management strategy.”

The report details information the user has entered regarding a specific trial, notes and photos they’ve taken throughout the growing season, and statistically analyzes parameters, Fulton said. The report can be shared with crop consultants and agronomists through the app. Users can also choose to keep the report private and stored in the cloud or exported as a CSV file to be used in programs such as Excel and Access, he said.

“The app does the statistical setup and analysis for you,” Fulton said. “It helps growers in implementing nutrient management strategies that are a win for their business operations and a win for environmental practices.”

The app can be downloaded free by searching for “Ohio State Plots” in the App Store and Google Play Store. More information on the app can be found at

Published in Other

October 12, 2016, Bismark, ND – I would like to look past harvest today and discuss manure application and valuation to give you something to ruminate on while sitting in the combine.

Rate of manure application will vary depending on crop nutrient needs, soil type, and the manure nutrient concentration and availability. READ MORE

Published in Beef

September 29, 2016, Washington, DC – A new $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – awarded to a multidisciplinary team from the University of California, Davis, University of Minnesota, University of Maine, the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA's Economic Research Service Resource and Rural Economics Division, the Produce Safety Alliance, and The Organic Center – will address one of the most pressing issues for the organic community: how to use manure effectively in organic farming in ways that foster healthy soil and minimize risks to food safety.

Announced recently by the USDA with funding provided by its Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the grant (exact amount $1,999,848) will support research examining the relationship between manure use in improving soil health and food safety, concentrating on organic fresh produce production.

The new grant implements a research plan developed by UC Davis, The Organic Center, and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) during their 2016 OREI planning grant. The long-term goal of the project is to provide critical information for guidelines on risk mitigation of foodborne pathogens for organic and sustainable agriculture.

"With this grant, we can now engage in specific research using the knowledge base that we've built, and The Organic Center welcomes our role in helping to get the word out about this vital issue," said Dr. Jessica Shade, director of science programs at The Organic Center.

The impetus for these grants has been the ongoing implementation process of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to improve food safety. In new rules implementing the FSMA regulations, changes were proposed relating to the use of compost and manure and the required interval that untreated manure could be applied and crops harvested. This is of particular importance for the organic sector, as many certified organic producers rely on animal-based soil amendments such as manure and compost to improve soil fertility and quality instead of chemical fertilizers.

Several studies have shown that the use of manure and compost has multiple positive environmental impacts: increased soil health, higher soil biodiversity and reduced erosion. The improved soil health and microbial diversity in organic soils have the potential to control the presence of soil pathogens, which can impact food safety. But little research has examined the specific wait periods between manure application and crop harvest required to control pathogens, and how pathogen presence interacts with healthy soil.

"By developing an innovative, customized risk-assessment based on good agricultural practices used within the organic industry related to raw manure and soil health, the project will benefit organic farmers and consumers by providing strategies to maintain the value of raw manure soil amendments while limiting food safety risks," said Professor Alda Pires, one of the team's principal investigators from UC Davis.

For more information on The Organic Center and the science behind organic food and farming, visit

Published in News

September 14, 2016, Fort Atkinson, WI – The University of Wisconsin Discovery Farms Program has been looking at nitrogen efficiency by tracking all sources as it cycles through the growing season from the soil to the corn plants.

Megan Chawner has worked with this study, evaluating farms in five different regions of Wisconsin, including the Rock River Basin. READ MORE

Published in News


It’s summer and temperatures often break the 100 degree Fahrenheit mark. No doubt, we still have a few days before fall when the temperatures will go beyond 100.

Why would I be thinking about temperature and nitrogen management at the same time? My simple answer is that manure nitrogen can be a valuable crop nutrient when conserved and managed. Temperature plays a part in that.

The crude protein concentration in diets is formulated to provide nitrogen and amino acids for animal production and growth. Diets with concentrations greater than needed result in animals excreting more nitrogen. Diets with concentrations less than needed may result in reduced production (less milk made or lower growth rates). Targeting formulations to animal needs has the greatest potential to optimize nitrogen use efficiency.

Data from feed inventory analysis on seven commercial dairies in California identified that 16 to 27 percent of total nitrogen in feedstuffs delivered to the facility were recovered in milk and animal tissue (growth). The other 84 to 73 percent of nitrogen was assumed excreted. For 100 pounds of nitrogen fed to these dairy herds (all replacements were reared on-site), roughly 73 to 84 pounds would be excreted.  

What happens to the excreted nitrogen? That depends on the animal housing and manure collection/storage process. Most of the nitrogen excreted by dairy animals is in the organic form. Let’s look at the highlights of the nitrogen cycle. Organic nitrogen needs to be mineralized to ammonium, a plant available form of nitrogen. It’s not particularly mobile. It clings to negatively charged particles including clay. It may also off gas to the atmosphere as ammonia. Or, ammonium may be converted to nitrite and nitrate through nitrification. Nitrate is also plant available. Unfortunately, since nitrate has the same negative charge as most soil particles, it does not cling to soil particles. In fact, it leaches easily when excess rain or irrigation water is applied. Nitrate may be fully denitrified and leave the solid/liquid system as N2 gas. This colorless, odorless gas makes up about 78 percent of the air we breathe. Microbes and enzymes present in the soil are responsible for nitrogen metabolism.

Most nitrogen in manure is in the organic fraction. The fact that it’s organically bound is great for the soil, as organic amendments are a great way to help build up soil organic matter content. However, the timing of availability of organic nitrogen is not as predictable as we’d like it to be in order to manage crop nutrient needs based on organic nitrogen applications.

Urea is the next largest form of nitrogen excreted in cattle urine. Urea is no stranger in farming. In fact, synthetic urea is used as a fertilizer. When entering the dairy manure stream, urea is often hydrolyzed to ammonium (if in a moist or wet environment) and then either volatilized as ammonia or it stays in solution. Ammonium in liquid manure is plant available. Ammonium will volatilize. Volatilization increases as pH, temperature, and wind speeds increase. Site-specific conditions, including management, impact how much ammonia is volatilized. When liquid manure is managed to conserve nitrogen, the next step is to manage it to minimize losses. Ammonium can undergo nitrification to nitrate after land application. Matching application timing and rate to crop needs is key to be efficient with nitrogen incorporation into plant matter and not lost to the environment. The nitrification process requires an oxygen rich environment [note: very few dairy lagoons in California would promote nitrification within the lagoon]. Ammonium may also remain adhered to soil particles. Under our hot summer conditions, urea in open lots may not hydrolyze as the moisture rapidly dissipates. Urea that hydrolyzes in open lots will likely volatilize as ammonia.

Rapid drying of open lot feces and urine has the greatest potential to conserve nitrogen. Keeping corrals dry and well managed will minimize pockets of wet material. Some operators harrow daily to break up clods and aid in drying. This is helpful to reduce fly populations as well as conserve urinary nitrogen. Management of solid manure through active composting is great to reduce microbial populations present, however it will result in loss of ammonium as piles are turned and rewetted. Flush systems regularly collect feces and urine from concrete lanes and transfer the material to a liquid storage/treatment structure. Urea is hydrolyzed and ends up in the liquid system as ammonium. The amount of this volatilized to the atmosphere will depend on wind speed, pH, temperature, and exposure surface. If you actually smell ammonia at the bank of a lagoon, you might want to check the pH and see what modifications are possible to lower the pH to something closer to seven.

First, identify what you expect the technology to accomplish (its job description) before you ask any questions about the technology. If you want a technology that removes solids from a liquid waste stream there are many different types and they all function a bit differently. If this is your focus, carefully evaluate your bedding source, amount used and particle size length. Experience shows us that particle length of different bedding sources varies, resulting in big differences in how separators or technologies work from dairy to dairy. Alternatively, if you want a technology that reduces the amount of nitrogen you emit to the atmosphere from your manure treatment/storage area, then perhaps you’re considering monitoring and management of pH, temperature, and wind speed. Transferring nitrogen from the liquid to the solid phase opens up greater opportunities for nitrogen exports.

Carefully identify the job description and expectations (manure function, employee labor, etc.) of any new management practice or technology before you consider it for your facility. Do your due diligence with air and water regulatory agencies before considering purchase and installation.

Yes, the nitrogen cycle is complex. Yes, nitrogen is very important to manage in order to maintain groundwater quality. Yes, there are things one can do. First, talk with your dairy nutritionist to be sure you’re not over feeding nitrogen to your animals. Second, evaluate manure handling to optimize nitrogen conservation once excreted. Keep solids in corrals dry in summer. Regularly flush lanes to collect and contain urea/ammonium nitrogen. Third, talk with your crop consultant about organic nitrogen variability.

Dr. Deanne Meyer is a livestock waste management specialist in the department of animal science at the University of
California – Davis.




Published in News

June 22, 2016, Ames, Ia – Based on current research results from Iowa and neighboring states, the Using Manure Nutrients for Crop Production publication (PMR 1003) was recently updated to reflect new manure nutrient availability ranges for crop production.

Beef cattle and dairy nitrogen availability ranges are now 30 to 50 percent of the total nutrients applied, and phosphorus ranges are 80 to 100 percent of total nutrients applied. These ranges increased slightly from 40 percent to 50 percent for the upper end of the nitrogen range and 60 percent to 80 percent for the low end of the phosphorus range.

Manure nutrient availability values are important when it comes to manure application, since the manure rate to supply crop available nutrients is calculated based on the specific manure source being used.

“For manure nitrogen and phosphorus, there is usually a mix of organic and inorganic materials that varies among manure sources, production systems, bedding, storage systems and handling,” said John Sawyer, professor and extension soil fertility and nutrient management specialist at Iowa State University. “These ranges account for the variety of factors that can affect nitrogen and phosphorus availability to crops.”

Additional text describing the table of manure nutrient availability values was added, along with the new URL for the revised Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator website.

The Using Manure Nutrients for Crop Production publication includes information about manure nutrient availability for crops, manure nutrient supply, manure nutrient application recommendations, adjusting for manure nitrogen volatilization, and more. You can download the revised document online for free at the Extension Store.

Published in Swine

May 9, 2016 – Including manure in your nutrient-management plan comes with benefits and drawbacks. Weighing the economics, community relations, and other considerations can help you decide if it’s going to be useful in your operation.

Depending on the species, manure will be valued from $6 to $35 per 1,000 gallons of manure, says Kevin Erb, University of Wisconsin Extension specialist. READ MORE

Published in Dairy

May 6, 2016, Balaton, MN – The nearly 8,500 tons of manure Jon Greenfield’s 1,000 head of Black Angus cattle produce annually is a valuable nutrient resource for his crops. The brown gold not only contains nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients but also adds organic matter to the soil. In turn, this can amend soil structure, aeration, soil moisture-holding capacity, and water infiltration.

For years Greenfield, who grows 1,400 acres of corn and soybeans in Balaton, Minnesota, has been applying a flat rate of manure across his fields. READ MORE

Published in Beef

February 19, 2016, Winnipeg, Man – An Extension professor in economics with the University of Missouri says the method of storing livestock manure will dramatically impact its fertilizer value.

Increasingly, livestock manure is being treated as a valuable resource rather than a waste to be disposed of.

How to Extract More Value From Manure was among the topics discussed earlier this month in Winnipeg as part of the 2016 Manitoba Swine Seminar.

Dr. Ray Massey, an Extension professor in economics with the University of Missouri, says farmers usually think of livestock manure as having three key crop nutrients and, while it may have other values such as organic matter, most crop farmers are looking at the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium it contains and, because they can be equivalently used, their value could be as high as what ever commercial fertilizer is selling for.

“The cheapest storage historically has been to create what we call a lagoon,” he says. “It's outside storage, earthen, lined, the nitrogen tends to dissipate in the summer when the temperatures are warm.”

“That's the cheapest storage but it also has manure that has the least value and so I encourage farmers to say I'm not just trying to minimize my cost, I want to maximize my net value, which is the total value minus my cost.”

“At that point, the lagoon still has its place in some locations but, if you are a crop farmer or in a farming region, it's much better to go with a storage system that will conserve the nutrients, allow it to be spread evenly and give you a more consistent manure product,” he adds. “It may cost you a little bit more but in the long term, even in the sort term, you are saving money by doing it that way.”

Dr. Massey says, through good management, producers can double the value of their manure.

Published in Swine

February 2, 2016, Columbus, OH — Scientists are actively pursuing answers to how nutrients are moving and leaving farmers’ fields in the western Lake Erie basin, and the results could be a little surprising.

Mark Williams, a Columbus-based soil drainage researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave Ohio Farmers Union members an update on research regarding tile drainage and surface runoff. READ MORE

Published in Associations


DeJager Farms manager Nate Ray is confident that lessons learned the first year of applying liquid manure via drip tape to his forage crops have shown success is at hand.

As California’s drought entered its fourth year, DeJager Farms turned to drip irrigation systems in order to maximize its irrigation water, especially on their sandy ground where flood irrigation methods need large amounts of water. Ray, however, had to purchase synthetic fertilizers because the readily available manure that the operation had in abundance would clog drip irrigation emitters. With partners Sustainable Conservation and Netafim, in 2014 Ray kicked off a project aimed at developing filtration technologies that not only allowed the use of liquid manure in drip systems, but also more precisely controlled the application rates based on the water and nutrient needs of his crop. This year the partners are refining this new system, aiming for maximum efficiency and yields.

Pushing lagoon water through drip tape sounds like a challenge, but Ray, Sustainable Conservation’s John Cardoza, and consultant Dan Rivers believe this irrigation system will not only help dairy producers boost crop yields, but it will also increase crops’ utilization of nutrients therefore reducing leaching of those valuable nutrients past the root zone.

The system set up at DeJager Farms consists of three parts: the blending of irrigation water/liquid manure, filtration and application to crop. Each is vital to the accuracy and efficiency of the system. Using liquid manure to irrigate and even sending it through drip lines is not a new idea, but Ray said complete integration of the system, with sensors and the ability to control the system remotely, provides more precise application rates and timing.

Rivers said that last year, using drip lines, they applied approximately one part lagoon water to five parts fresh water with the irrigators reading flow meters and manually adjusting valves. The application rate sometimes varied depending of the results of nitrogen tests conducted in the liquid manure source. They also calculated the amount of nitrogen applied after each irrigation.

This year’s system has sensors to measure nitrogen concentration utilizing electrical conductivity (EC), which measures the nitrogen concentration in both lagoon and fresh water, and a controller to operate the valve blending lagoon and fresh water depending on the EC. Rivers said they are calculating the runtime to apply the right amount of water. The system flow rate is determined by the type of drip tape and acreage. They are using the EC sensor and irrigation controller to automate the blending of lagoon and fresh water.

“The proportional valve adds a whole other dimension to the design of the system,” Ray said. “It took the guesswork out.”

This part of the system is key to achieving high yields, Ray said, because he can apply nitrogen more precisely and at the optimal time during the growing season. The volume of lagoon water and the rate of nitrogen are also recorded. Supplying both to the silage crop in the right amounts at the right time gives them the efficiency they are seeking, as well as a uniform crop from border to border.

“We are going from 65 percent efficiency with flood to 95 percent with drip,” said Ray.

He said the final pieces to perfect the system lie in additional filtration of the lagoon water, possibly with a centrifuge filter.

DeJager Farm’s environmental consultants sample his irrigation water once a month, Ray said, to determine if they are on track with their nutrient management plan. He uses soil and plant tissue samples to make sure his nutrient applications are doing the job.

Once the lagoon/fresh blend is made, the water moves through a double sand media filtration system. The double capacity is to handle the higher solids content of the lagoon water. There is an automatic back flush at rates that depend on the concentration of the water. The goal there is to keep the system operating at the correct pressure.

The filtered irrigation water then is piped to the field where it goes into the buried drip lines and out the emitters. In this system the emitters have been engineered to have fewer turns where solids can accumulate.

Rivers said inspections of the drip tape and emitters have found the integrity is holding up with the addition of lagoon water. They periodically run a blend of peracetic acid and fresh water through the drip lines to clean out algae, bacteria and biofilm. Ray said that with regular maintenance, they expect the drip systems in silage crops to last as long as their drip systems in alfalfa. Ray’s strip-till practice allows the drip tape installed in fields where he rotates winter forage with corn silage to remain in place.

As he considers adding more forage ground to subsurface drip, Ray and Cardoza see another advantage to the practice. Applying lagoon water via drip irrigation helps with his fertilizer costs. Ray said it will also make him a better neighbor on fields closer to town by applying their lagoon water underground.

The feasibility of a system like DeJager’s also has to be considered, Cardoza said. He recommends any producers interested in finding out more about this innovative drip system to contact him directly at (209) 576-7731 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .




Published in Dairy


Is it feasible and economical to transport liquid manure by pipeline from areas where there is a surplus of phosphorus on the land base to areas where phosphorus is deficient?

As hog and dairy farms become larger and larger and as phosphorus builds up on land surrounding some of these operations, the pipeline option for transporting liquid manure might not sound so farfetched under the right circumstances.

The technical and economic viability of transporting liquid manure by pipeline was a question posed recently by the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) Board as part of its ongoing efforts to provide responsible nutrient management options to the province’s agriculture sector. Pork production is the largest livestock sector in the province, and according to the Manitoba Pork Council, about 50 percent of production is concentrated in two rural municipalities in southeast Manitoba in the area around Steinbach. MLMMI estimates that pork producers in the Steinbach area generate between 50 and 70 million gallons of liquid manure per year.

MLMMI began its study into nutrient management options by investigating five different manure separation technologies where the phosphorus could be removed in dry form from the liquid manure. These were the incline screen, rotary press, centrifuge, reverse osmosis and air flotation and belt filter press methods. Manure in liquid form adds as much as 95 percent to the weight of a load.

“While it appears that some of them work, they are expensive,” says John Carney, executive director of MLMMI. “So we’ve broaden our search because since these are expensive both from a capital and operating point of view, we asked what other options do we have? Certainly an option is trucking but then also the idea of using a pipeline possibly to relocate these nutrients came up.”

He adds that the pipeline option has been discussed in Manitoba from time to time because of the advantages it offers versus truck transport, those being reduced transport cost per gallon, less traffic on roadways resulting in less wear and tear on infrastructure, and a pipeline’s ability to potentially transport manure faster from one place to another. On the flip side, pipelines are expensive to build and they typically require an exhaustive approval process.

MLMMI commissioned DGH Engineering to assess the physical, economic and environmental feasibility of a pipeline to transport liquid manure. They discovered in their preliminary study that there aren’t many examples of high volumes of manure being transported by pipeline, with most located in Europe. So they opted for a concept design of a hypothetical 56 kilometer, 14-inch pipeline capable of pumping 60 million gallons per year.

They concluded that construction of a pipeline was feasible and if purchased outright, the cost would be about $42 million, with operating costs of $.02 per gallon. Another option would be to take a mortgage out to finance the project. Over 25 years, the cost per gallon to ship the manure through the pipeline would be about $.07 per gallon. However, there were a number of logistical hurdles that such a project would have to overcome, such as the need to successfully pass the scrutiny of an environmental assessment and coordinating both the farmers that would supply the manure and farmers that would receive manure from the pipeline.

While the feasibility study provides both the province and the industry with important data on the potential use of a pipeline to transport liquid manure, Mike Teillet, Manager of Sustainable Development at the Manitoba Pork Council says what Manitoba producers have concluded from the study is that moving liquid manure in this manner is not economically viable for them. With that hard data in hand, he says that producers are looking at other options such as simply trucking the liquid manure to areas where the land is phosphorus deficient.

“The pipeline option is probably too expensive,” says Teillet. “I would think that it is highly unlikely that it will go forward.”

However, he indicated that there is a sense of urgency to find phosphorus reduction or liquid manure transport options among hog producers in the Steinbach area because this issue of phosphorus build up is limiting industry growth.

“The government has actually banned expansion in that area,” says Teillet. In fact, he says about three years ago, the government banned all hog industry expansion in the province.

“We have been negotiating with them to come up with a solution that both parties can accept, and we did reach an agreement in April, where they have agreed to allow us to build more barns under certain restrictions,” says Teillet, but not in the areas where the industry is currently highly concentrated.

Given the current financial stresses on the industry, Carney agrees that it is unlikely that contractors will be breaking ground on a manure pipeline in Manitoba any time soon. However, it was part of an overall investigation into manure separation, handling and storage, and transportation options they’d like pork producers in surplus phosphorus areas to consider.

Carney also agrees with Teillet that the concern about build up of phosphorus on the land base surrounding hog farms in the Steinbach area is having a constraining impact on growth.

“There are areas in the province where there is more than sufficient land to increase livestock production,” says Carney, “but not realistically in the two southeast municipalities.”

He says in addition to reviewing various manure transport options, MLMMI has also looked at ways that Manitoba hog producers could potentially either reduce the amount of phosphorus they were generating with a specific focus on their feed and also if there were crops that could be grown that require more phosphorus.

“We concluded that in the southeast, neither of those would bring that region into balance,” says Carney, “so we knew we’d have to find the most economical, practical way to relocate the phosphorus.”

As to the value of the pipeline study, Carney says the reason MLMMI made that investment was to put some actual numbers to the cost of a pipeline and to determine whether or not it was feasible, the most pertinent finding being that building a pipeline based on DGH Engineering’s concept is expensive. That’s where the issue stands at the present time in Manitoba.




Published in Swine

August 11, 2015, Carrington, ND — Yes, this story is about manure. Go ahead. Smirk. Crack a joke. Get it out of your system. But when you’re ready to be serious, you’ll find that manure is increasingly seen as a resource to utilize, not a nuisance to be disposed of.

“More people are viewing it now as an agricultural nutrient rather than an agricultural waste,” says Mary Berg, livestock environmental specialist at the North Dakota State University Carrington Research Extension Center.

She and other scientists at the Carrington center, and elsewhere, are working with farmers, ranchers, agronomists and other agriculturalists to make greater, more efficient use of manure as a crop fertilizer. READ MORE

Published in Other
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