Environment
July 27, 2017, California - A liquid organic biofertilizer made from the material that is left over after manure or food waste is digested to create clean electricity compares favorably in nutrient value with commonly used synthetic materials in trials on canning tomatoes and corn.

UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering Ruihong Zhang designed an anaerobic biodigester nearly 10 years ago that is used to turn food waste from campus dining halls into clean energy.

Several dairies have also invested in digesters to treat their manure, which would otherwise emit the greenhouse gas methane, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture offers grants to help defray the cost.

Cost is the major stumbling block to more widespread use of the technology, and the trial of a biofertilizer made in the campus digester is an attempt to see if the bottom line can be made just a little more favorable. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
July 27, 2017, McKinney, Texas – Global Re-Fuel is an energy technology company that is poised to make a significant impact on poultry farming.

Its PLF-500 biomass furnace offers a pioneering farm technology that addresses financial, health and environmental issues facing the agriculture industry.

Global Re-Fuel's warm-air biomass furnace – now in use on a farm in Texas – converts raw poultry litter into energy, providing heat to broiler houses while creating a pathogen-free organic fertilizer.

"A ton of litter has the equivalent energy content of 67 gallons of propane. Extracting that heat and using the ash as fertilizer is a really good situation, which not only helps farmers, but is also beneficial to the environment," says Glenn Rodes, a farmer who has used the technology on his Virginia poultry farm.

As the number of poultry operations in the U.S. increases, so do the attendant problems.

Today, there are more than 110,000 broiler houses in the country, with that number expected to exceed 131,000 by 2024, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) growth projections of the industry.

More than 32 billion pounds of poultry litter were generated in 2015. That number is expected to grow to more than 37 billion pounds per year by 2024, which will exacerbate the soil nutrient overload that contributes to runoff pollution into US waterways.

In addition, poultry farms require a great deal of propane to heat broiler houses, with the average broiler house using about 6,000 gallons of propane each year.

In 2015, more than 8.5 million tons of CO2 were emitted from burning propane to heat broiler houses, and that number is projected to grow to almost 10 million tons by 2024, according to the USDA. Global Re-Fuel's technology eliminates nearly 100 percent of propane usage, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 70,000 lbs/yr/house.

"The Global Re-Fuel PLF-500 increases farmers' operating margins, decreases pollution, eliminates propane usage – which reduces CO2 emissions – and improves poultry living conditions," says Rocky Irvin, a founding member of Global Re-Fuel and a poultry grower for more than 10 years. "It's good for the family farm and the environment."
Published in Equipment
July 21, 2017, Washington - The Washington State Department of Agriculture has ended its investigation into the release of fecal coliform-laced water that flooded a Yakima County community last winter, recommending that a dairy block off a manure compost pile or move it to higher ground.

Snipes Mountain Dairy was not fined or ordered to take action, but WSDA will inspect the farm in the fall, department spokesman Hector Castro said.

If the dairy doesn't respond to WSDA's concerns, the department could refer the case to the Department of Ecology, which also has jurisdiction over the dairy.

The dairy also could face more severe penalties by WSDA if it discharges polluted water again. "It certainly would be a factor," Castro said.

WSDA's notice to Snipes dairy stems from a March 1 flood that actually began on another farm.

Melting snow breached a berm around a field and flowed onto Snipes dairy. The floodwater wasn't polluted until it washed into the pile of manure, according to WSDA's investigation. The contaminated water eventually surrounded several homes a half mile away in Outlook. READ MORE 
Published in Dairy
Texan Jack Moreman, owner of Rolling Plains Ag Compost, is proof positive that those who teach can also do. In fact, he has parlayed his extensive feedlot and manure management knowledge into a highly successful organic fertilizer and soil amendment business.

Moreman, a retired vocational agriculture teacher with an animal husbandry degree from Texas Tech University, began his career by managing a cattle feedlot. He then spent over 25 years teaching at Texas Christian University and Clarendon Community College, where he developed and taught a two-year program in ranch and feedlot management.

Six years ago, this 81-year-old launched a successful turnkey manure composting and organic fertilizer application business headquartered in Clarendon, Texas, that has since doubled in size with 15 employees. Clarendon is about 65 miles southeast of Amarillo.

The company’s motto is, “Giving nature a hand and conserving the land.”

“I feel very strongly about conserving our resources,” says Moreman. “I think composting is one of the better things that we do, and the area that we are in, you could have three different soil types in one field, from sandy loam, to dark clay, to caliche. Compost improves the soil structure and the ability for the carbon molecules to hold the nutrients in place till the plant can get hold of it.”

A group of eight feedlot owners, who together raise about 200,000 head of cattle, annually supply Moreman with the manure he needs to make compost. The company uses its compost turning equipment on land dedicated by each feedlot to convert over 720,000 tons of raw feedlot manure annually into about 300,000 tons of compost. It then sells the compost to farmers as organic fertilizer and a soil amendment, providing the equipment and personnel to land apply it for them.

Rolling Plains Ag Compost makes its money from the sale and application of the compost, with a percentage of that income paid to the feedlot owners for supplying the raw manure.

Moreman says that there are two main reasons why the feedlots are eager to work with Rolling Plains Ag Compost. Firstly, when the feedlot cleans its pens and stockpiles the manure, it typically is compacted in large chunks, which makes it very difficult to land apply. Its nutrient content is also highly variable in this form and it often is full of weed seeds. Because the raw manure is in larger chunks, it usually takes a couple of years to break down in the field, which is why farmers tend to not see any value from it until the second year after application. However, by providing the raw manure to a composter, the large chunks are broken down, it is easier to land apply, and the nutrients are available immediately upon incorporation. Also, farmers who have applied raw manure on their fields have found that this material tends to have unwanted debris like pipes and cables mixed in with it.

Secondly, working with a composter like Rolling Plains Ag Compost, reduces the feedlots’ potential liability concerning land applying of raw manure. Moreman says based on feedback from his feedlot suppliers, the decision to compost the manure rather than land apply it has made a big difference when it comes to dealing with organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Our feedlot operators tell us that if an inspector from the EPA or Texas Water Quality Board comes by and they see that they are composting that manure and hauling it out, the inspectors don’t ever bother them because that’s what they want to see done with it,” says Moreman. “But if the inspectors go in there and they have a huge pile that’s so big that it interferes with TV reception, then they get concerned.”

The composting processes gets rid of many of the pathogens and weed seeds in raw manure, and reduces the volume. Moreman says that it reduces the manure volume by as much as 5-to-1. So there is a lot less material to land apply and it tends to have more consistent nutrient content.

Because the feedlots feed their cattle concentrated rations, there is little, if any, roughage like hay or bedding material like straw mixed in with the manure, which actually makes it more valuable as a raw material for making compost because there is little to no filler.

“Dairy manure is probably worth about half as much as cattle feedlot manure because a dairy operation will typically feed a lot of hay and silage to their cattle,” says Moreman. “These beef cattle are on a high grain ration and they are not subjected to a lot of roughage, because these feedlot owners want their cattle to eat a lot of grain and convert that to beef. That’s kind of the name of the game.”

Moreman’s business operates year round. Employees are either creating the windrows, turning the windrows, or land applying the compost for farm customers.

“We are either putting compost on cotton, peanuts, corn, wheat or irrigated pasture,” says Jack. “There is a crop coming off at all times, so they need compost pretty much all the time.”

While there is year-round demand, there are times of greater and lesser demand. May to July tends to be the slowest time of year, after spring crops are planted.

An important selling point to marketing the compost to farm customers is its ability to improve the water holding capacity of the soils where it is applied. Water is a valuable commodity to farmers in that part of Texas. Adding compost to dense soils increases their aeration and drainage capacity, and increases the water holding capacity of sandy soils. Most of Rolling Plains Ag Compost’s customers participate in a program where they
land-apply compost on each parcel of land on a two-to-three year rotation.

The company has worked hard to build its farm customer base, and Moreman’s background as an educator has helped. He spends considerable time hosting seminars and speaking to individual farmers about the benefits of using compost. His effort has paid off.

“You can be assured of one thing that if they try it, we are going to make a sale next time around,” says Moreman.

While compost has significant nutrient value, it does not necessarily fulfil all the farmer’s nutrient needs but represents only part of the overall puzzle. The company’s customers understand that. Most will need to add some commercial fertilizer, depending on the crop they are growing.



Typically, a feedlot will stockpile its raw manure as it cleans its pens and then Rolling Plains Ag Compost will bring in their own loaders and trucks to transport the manure to a drainage-controlled parcel of land that the feedlot has designated as its composting area. This can measure anywhere from 20 to 40 acres.

The company will create a compost windrow that measures approximately six-feet tall by up to 16-feet wide. The windrow will be as long as required by the amount of raw manure being converted. In the past, they have measured anywhere from a quarter-mile to a mile long.

The composting process consists of windrow turning, temperature measurement and moisture measure to ensure that the microorganisms responsible for the biological conversion process within the windrows are doing their job.

Part of the reason for the turning process is to ensure that the windrows are well oxygenated to support the microorganisms. As the conversion process takes place, the windrows can heat up to as much as 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

To turn the windrows, Rolling Plains Ag Compost uses a CT718 compost turner by Wildcat, which is a Vermeer company. With a 44-inch diameter drum to turn, mix and aerate the material, it can process up to 5,000 tons of manure per hour. The turning takes place typically once a week.

After about six weeks, the raw manure has been converted to compost and it is ready for land application. Moreman says the compost turner is a large and powerful piece of equipment with a 500 hp Caterpillar engine. He adds that it is sturdy enough to break down the chunks in the manure pile.

Rolling Plains Ag Compost has its own fleet of semi-trailer trucks to deliver the compost to farm customers. At all stages of the pen cleaning, composting, and land application process, the company depends on a large fleet of John Deere loaders to move the material as needed.

Once the compost is delivered to the farm, the compost is temporarily stockpiled beside the field and then loaded into New Leader spreaders to land apply the compost. Rolling Plains Ag Compost owns four of them. New Leader is a type of nutrient applicator manufactured by Highway Equipment Company (HECO) located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In the Rolling Plains Ag Compost operation, the applicators are mounted on either Chevrolet or International trucks.

Moreman says that these New Leader nutrient applicators are large and purpose-built. The box consists of a stainless steel bed with a conveyor on the bottom. The conveyor propels the compost to the back of the box, where spinners broadcast the material onto the land. The company will deploy as many nutrient applicators as needed for each job, but when all four are working, their customers are amazed at how quickly the job gets done.

“They are also very accurate,” says Jack. “There is a GPS unit on them to ensure that you don’t leave any part of the field out, and if you do, it will tell you.”

In terms of application amounts, Rolling Plains Ag Compost recommends four tons per acre on irrigated land and two-to-three tons on dry land. Once the farmer has some experience using the compost, they usually make adjustments on future applications based on the responses that they have experienced.

Published in Compost
July 20, 2017 - Take a tour of the McCormick Farms Reclamation System. This video demonstates how the McCormick Farm is able to clean barns and recycle the sands and separate the solids from the liquids in order to recycle all the bedding.

McCormick Farms values sustainable development, thus have an automated system integrated directly in the farm to keep the cows clean and reuse and recycle wastes.

Cows currently are all bedded with sand, so it is very important for the cows well-being that their bedding is kept dry. For more information, watch the video above!
Published in Dairy
July 20, 2017, NY - On Wednesday, Aug. 9, the New York Ag Leadership Luncheon at Empire Farm Days will honor Mike and Peter Dueppengiesser as recipients of the 2017 Agricultural Environmental Management Award.

Ag Commissioner Richard Ball is scheduled to present the Empire State's top environmental award to this third-generation family farm for their exemplary environmental management.

The brothers' Dueppengiesser Dairy Co. of Perry, N.Y., is proof that farms can grow and be both sustainable and profitable by being environmentally responsible.

They closely worked with Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District to meet the state's top (Tier 5) standards while growing their business from 110 milking cows and 750 acres in 1990 to today's 1,100-cow milking herd and 2,100 cropland acres. READ MORE 
Published in Profiles
July 19, 2017, Vermont -  You can tell a lot about a farm by looking closely at the soil. That's why the new, statewide program to recognize Vermont's most environmentally friendly farmers will be based on soil-sampling and monitoring.

Today, Governor Phil Scott announced the pilot launch of the new Vermont Environmental Stewardship Program (VESP), which will use soil-based analysis to identify farmers who are going above and beyond to protect our natural resources.

Surrounded by state and federal officials at the North Williston Cattle Company, owned by the Whitcomb family, Governor Scott emphasized the important role farmers play in Vermont communities.

The program is a partner effort by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and the University of Vermont Extension.
Published in Business/Policy
July 19, 2017, Washington - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced July 7, an award of $1 million to the Stillaguamish Tribe for an innovative project in dairy nutrient management at Natural Milk Dairy in Stanwood.

As the lone recipient in Washington state of a nationally funded Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG), the tribe proposes to demonstrate successful implementation of an emerging animal nutrient treatment system for dairy farms.

The technology, originally developed to address human waste in developing countries, is now being adapted to treat dairy nutrients. READ MORE
Published in Profiles
July 18, 2017, Berlin/ Williston, Vermont - The Winooski Natural Resource Conservation District, in conjunction with the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts, UVM Extension and USDANRCS, are offering a program to help small farms write Nutrient Management Plans (NMP) to meet the new Required Agricultural Practices.

"By writing your own NMP you can: understand the nutrient needs of your soil, learn how to improve water quality and soil health on your farm, learn how to best use your manure on your land and meet a requirement of the state's Required Agricultural Practices." The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District is here to help you at no cost. This free program for small farms that spread manure, benefits from District staff working one-on-one with the farmer to collect and analyze soil and manure and create an individualized plan through in class instruction.

Participants will receive a land treatment plan that identifies what management practices can be implemented that will protect not only water quality and soil health, but the economic viability of the farm.

Farmers in Chittenden and Washington County interested in participating in the NMP class or learning more about Agricultural Best Management Practices that can be implemented please visit: www.winooskinrcd.org or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

The deadline to register for this years' class is July 31, 2017. Our updated website contains valuable resources and available assistance for farmers. In addition links to handouts, presentations and upcoming workshops on the new Required Agricultural Practices.

The Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District is one of 14 conservation districts throughout Vermont. It encompasses all of Chittenden and Washington County as well as parts of Orange County (Orange, Williamstown and Washington). The district relies on grants and individual donations to complete its conservation work. The WNRCD focuses its resources on completing conservation projects within the areas of agricultural assistance, forestland enhancement, urban conservation and watershed stewardship.
Published in Associations
July 18, 2017, Freedom, WI - A manure spill at a 950-cow dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin ran into a local creek that feeds into the Fox River.

The spill was reported on Monday and a temporary clay dam has been installed to contain the runoff.

An agricultural runoff specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said it's not known how much manure entered Dutchman's Creek located outside of Freedom, southwest of Green Bay.

Ben Uvaas said the dairy farm responsible reported at least 20,000 gallons of manure were released from a holding pit.

"The farm estimates 20,000 gallons was lost from the pit," Uvaas said. "So out of that a fraction, a percentage would have gotten to Dutchman's Creek. That's probably the best estimate we're ever going to have for this."

Uvaas said the farm worked quickly to contain the spill by having a contractor build a clay berm.

"It's fairly water tight. Those are built up perpendicular to the flow in the creek kind of like a 'mini dam,'" Uvaas said. "And as that water fills up behind the berm, it becomes deep enough where equipment like a septic truck or vacuum truck can reach in there with a hose and collect that water."

Uvaas doesn't have authorization to issue fines for spills, but violations can be referred to the state Department of Justice.
Published in Dairy
July 13, 2017, Paulding, OH – Farmers who want to learn more about creating fertile soil for crops and how to manage manure to improve profits, while also protecting the environment, should attend the Manure Science Review on August 2.

The Paulding Soil & Water Conservation District, Ohio State University Extension, Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), and Ohio Farm Bureau Federation are collaborating to host the event.

The event will be from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Stoller Brothers & Sons farm, at 9257 Rd. 144, in Paulding. Paulding Dairy supplies the Stoller farm with manure and helps with manure management throughout the year, making the farm an ideal location for the event.

The field day will highlight how to use manure effectively to improve yields, understanding ODA manure application and recordkeeping rules, reducing nutrient runoff as well as the benefits that cover crops provide in the field.

"Attendees can learn how OSU Extension worked with livestock producers this spring to sidedress emerged corn with liquid manure using a soft drag hose," said Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Educator and field specialist in manure nutrient management systems. Farmers attach a metal toolbar to the tractor to receive manure and inject it three to five inches into the soil between the rows of growing corn. The manure in the ground is then covered with soil.

OSU Extension and industry specialists will speak at the event and lead the sessions throughout the day. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

"The demonstrations offered at the event all highlight the importance of planning to ensure manure nutrients are available for crop use as well as to protect water quality by reducing the risk of nutrient runoff," said Mary Wicks research associate with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.

Field demonstrations will include controlling subsurface tile drainage, manure spreader calibration, manure application, sidedressing emerged corn, incorporating poultry litter, the use of frac tanks for rapid manure transfer, and smoking subsurface tiles where smoke is blown through the tile lines to see if there are pores in the ground.

"Smoking subsurface tile illustrates how natural pores in the ground from things like worm tubes and soil cracks can allow liquid manure into underground drainage, where the manure could eventually end up in surface water" said Wicks.

An optional emergency manure spill response demonstration will take place shortly after 3:30 p.m.

Continuing education units are available for a variety of professionals including Certified Crop Advisors, ODA Certified Livestock Managers, professional engineers, Indiana State Chemist (Cat 14 and RT.) and Pennsylvania Manure Hauler/Broker.

Registration is $25 per person if completed before July 24 and $30 per person afterwards. Breakfast and lunch are included with the registration fee. An online form and additional information can be found at ocamm.osu.edu.

For additional information about the event, contact Mary Wicks at 330-202-3533 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Published in Applications
July 12, 2017, Lethbridge, Alta. - Farmers know the importance of keeping the land, water and air healthy to sustain their farms from one generation to the next. They also know that a clean environment and a strong economy go hand-in-hand.

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and Member of
Parliament (Calgary Centre) Kent Hehr today announced a $1.1 million investment with the
University of Lethbridge to study ways to reduce methane gas emissions in cattle.

This project with the University of Lethbridge is one of 20 new research projects supported by
the $27 million Agricultural Greenhouse Gases Program (AGGP), a partnership with
universities and conservation groups across Canada. The program supports research into
greenhouse gas mitigation practices and technologies that can be adopted on the farm.

"Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the cattle sector is important both
environmentally, economically and helps build public trust. Producers want to operate in a
sustainable fashion and our study results will help them do that," said Dr. Erasmus Okine, University of Lethbridge Vice-President (Research). 

The study led by the University of Lethbridge will investigate whether the use of biochar, a feed supplement, in beef cattle diets improves the efficiency of digestion and reduces the amount of methane gas produced.
Published in Business/Policy
July 10, 2017, Raleigh, NC - Officials with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality are testing water quality in Pott Creek northwest of Lincolnton after 200,000 gallons of manure spilled into the waterway earlier this week.

A pump malfunction Monday at the Gladden Dairy in Catawba County caused the manure to spill into the headwaters of nearby Pott Creek, which flows into the South Fork River, officials said.

All public water supply intakes from the spill location downstream into South Carolina have been notified of the spill.

The two downstream water supply intakes in North Carolina, the city of Lincolnton and town of Dallas, have voluntarily stopped withdrawing water from the river as a precaution. The utilities are instead using alternative water supplies or reserves to ensure drinking water remains safe.

There have been reports of a fish kill in Pott Creek and investigators have confirmed finding two locations with a total of nine dead fish.

Repairs to the dairy's waste management system are underway and the owners are working onsite to clean up the source of the spill.

State water quality officials will continue to monitor conditions in the creek and investigate the spill to determine any appropriate enforcement action. State and local officials will continue working together to address any water quality and public health concerns related to this spill.
Published in News
July 7, 2017, Ookala, Hawaii - Community activists on the Big Island are suing a dairy over ongoing pollution concerns despite previous citations from the state.

Kupale Ookala and the Center for Food Safety sued the Idaho-based company who operates the Ookala dairy on Hawaii Island's northern side.

The complaint cites ongoing concerns that runoff from the dairy polluted nearby communities, and violated the Clean Water Act when animal feces were released into streams and ocean water. READ MORE
Published in News
July 7, 2017, Chicago, IL - The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farm families and importers, announced its sixth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards in a June 28 Chicago ceremony.

The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet.

From farm to table, transparency and ingenuity drive dairy forward, as demonstrated in the newly released 2016 Sustainability Report, which describes the Innovation Center's strategic plan focused on social responsibility. The plan was developed by dairy community leaders in recognition of the changing consumer and customer marketplace where health, environmental and ethical practices are of increasing interest.

Award winners represent the U.S. dairy community's voluntary efforts toward continuous improvement in sustainability.

"This year's winners demonstrated impressive leadership and creativity in the application of technology and other practices that protect our land, air and water," said Barbara O'Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "And, they're proactive about building strong relationships with their communities and employees. Based on this year's nominations, it's clear that dairy farms and companies of all sizes use sustainable practices because it's good for the environment, good for their community and good for business."

Judges evaluated nominations based on their economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also considered learning, innovation, scalability and replicability.
Through creative problem solving, this year's winners addressed water quality, soil fertility, community outreach, energy efficiency and more.

"These award-winning practices can serve as models for other farmers, too," said Jason Bateman, dairy farmer, 2016 award winner and one of this year's judges. "Winners made breakthroughs, and they improved everyday practices. It's inspiring to see people collaborate with partners outside of dairy and build on ideas from other industries."

The 2017 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards winners are:

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability:

Kinnard Farms
, Casco, Wisconsin

The Kinnard family milks more than 7,000 cows — a scale that allows them to maximize cow comfort while supporting their rural community. They retain the area's young, college-educated residents by employing them to innovate farm technology. The Kinnards are often on the cutting edge; they made a first-of-its-kind sand recycling center — one that uses no freshwater in the process — to separate, wash and dry sand for repeated use. Sand is this farm's preferred bedding material because it provides comfort and sure footing for cows and is bacteria free, keeping udders healthy.

Rickreall Dairy, Rickreall, Oregon

Rickreall, Ore., residents know Louie Kazemier as a good neighbor. In fact, his relationships are the force behind his farm's frequent improvements. For example, when solids were building up in the manure lagoon, Louie initiated trade with a seed farmer to provide fertilizer in exchange for feed. He also collaborated with a local food processor to use their wastewater for irrigation. Kazemier depends on a whole-system approach to tend to what matters — and that turns out to be everything. The results are big: for one, most of the dairy's 25 employees have been there for more than 20 years.

SwissLane Farms, Alto, Michigan

This farm is 23 miles from downtown Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan. That poses both pressures from urban sprawl and opportunities to reach people several generations removed from the farm. Since 2006, SwissLane's Dairy Discovery program has taken advantage of this opportunity, offering farm tours that have reached more than 36,000 students, teachers and families. They have plenty to demonstrate when it comes to sustainable practices. After a farm energy audit, SwissLanes Dairy made improvements that reduced energy costs by 17 percent per cow. They also took steps to become verified through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability:

Glanbia Nutritionals, Evanston, Illinois

While consumers don't see the Glanbia Nutritionals brand in their grocery stores, it has a big footprint as one of the leading manufacturers of American-style cheese and whey. To implement a sustainability plan, they started with a single plant in Idaho. The team determined priority impact areas, measured social presence, determined metrics to demonstrate progress and identified areas where additional resourcing was needed. By 2016, the company had replicated this approach with three more plants and adopted a global sustainability strategy that promises to "nurture, grow and sustain the lives of our employees, milk producers, customers, consumers and communities."

Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship

Kellercrest Registered Holsteins, Inc., Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

The Keller family participated in the Pleasant Valley Watershed Project, a collaboration among state, local and national agencies to reduce the local watershed's phosphorous load. Results were dramatic and positive. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is expected to propose removing the Pleasant Valley branch from the EPA's list of sediment-impaired streams. Other farms that participated in the project saw economic benefits too, and this spurred them to form a group to build on the learnings. The Kellers, whose family has farmed the hills of Mount Horeb since the late 1840s, saw cost savings as well as environmental benefits.

Honorable Mention:

Mercer Vu Farms, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

The Hissong family needed a manure management system that allowed them to maintain their high standard of cow comfort while protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They looked at industries outside of agriculture to devise something dairy farms can replicate. They developed a system that allows them to use manure solids for cow bedding and for compost, while using phosphorus from the liquid manure as crop fertilizer in a targeted application. Their new system eliminated greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 740 cars from the road.

Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships:

Oakland View Farms & Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Caroline County, Maryland

Environmental communities and farmers haven't always seen eye to eye – especially in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where water quality is a significant issue. But these groups identified a common goal: improve the community's water quality through cost-effective projects that could be replicated. They did that with a woodchip bioreactor – the first of its kind in Maryland – that eliminated nitrogen from agricultural drainage water. An effective, virtually maintenance-free solution, it eliminates 48 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay each year.

Honorable Mention:

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, The Kroger Co. of Michigan

Michigan Milk Producers Association and Michigan State University Extension, Novi, Michigan

The benefits of milk's nutrient-dense profile have long been established. But the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) relied on lesser-known qualities to help the residents of Flint, Mich. during a crisis in which they were susceptible to lead poisoning from contaminated water. Calcium and iron, found in dairy, can help mitigate health risks of lead consumption. Through a comprehensive partnership, 589,824 servings of milk were donated to those in need. Now there's a donation model to show this is possible in other communities affected by potential lead contamination.

Honorable Mention:

U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium Extension, College Station, Texas

The need for skilled agricultural professionals in the southwestern United States continues to grow, especially as universities across the region have reduced or eliminated their dairy programs. USDETC thrives today thanks to farmers and other dairy industry professionals. The goal: train animal and dairy science, agribusiness and pre-veterinary students on practical aspects of modern dairy management. Students study and visit as many different dairies, management styles and developmental stages as possible. It's all about growing participants' understanding of what a dairy operation entails so they're better equipped to lead.
Published in Profiles
July 6, 2017, New York - If you buy a house on the 9 million acres of agricultural districts in New York state, you sign a disclosure form that says the farmers near you have the "right to farm" even when it causes noise, dust and odors.

Still, when a farmer decides to build a lagoon to store millions of gallons of liquid manure, the neighbors are often disappointed to find out they have little say in the matter. They can also be shocked to hear that government sometimes requires manure storage and even helps pay for it.

Since 1994, 461 manure storages have been built with state financial help, according to the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets. Others are privately or federally funded.

The "Right to Farm" is a state law that protects 25,316 farms on 6.5 million of those 9-million acres of agricultural districts. The rest of that land is occupied by people who do not farm.

Mike McMahon, of McMahon's EZ Acres in Homer, allowed us to fly a drone over the lagoon on his dairy farm and explained how it was designed.
McMahon, other farmers and government officials say storage is the best practice to protect the environment from runoff.

Storage allows farmers to spread manure on fields on only the best days - when the soil is dry and less likely to run off of wet and frozen ground into lakes and streams. READ MORE
Published in Storage
June 28, 2017, Washington, D.C.– The National Pork Producers Council hailed today's announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it will propose a rule to rescind a controversial Clean Water Act regulation that gave the government broad jurisdiction over land and water.

The proposal – expected to be published in the Federal Register in the coming days – will repeal the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which ostensibly was implemented to clarify EPA's authority over various waters.

Based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions, EPA's jurisdiction had included "navigable" waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters. But the WOTUS rule broadened that to include, among other water bodies, upstream waters and intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation. It also covered lands adjacent to such waters.

"This is great news for America's pork producers," said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. "The WOTUS rule was a dramatic government overreach and an unprecedented expansion of federal authority over private lands.

"It was the product of a flawed regulatory process that lacked transparency and likely would have been used by trial lawyers and environmental activists to attack farmers," Maschhoff added. "We're extremely grateful to President Trump and EPA Administrator [Scott] Pruitt for recognizing the dire consequences this ill-advised Obama-era regulation would have had on pork producers and all of American agriculture."

NPPC helped lead the agricultural community's opposition to the WOTUS rule, including producing maps showing the extent of the lands affected by the regulation. (EPA's jurisdiction in Missouri, for example, would have increased to cover 77 percent of the state under the rule.) The organization also led the legal efforts against the rule, filing suit in a U.S. District Court and presenting a brief to a U.S. Court of Appeals. The latter halted implementation of the WOTUS rule shortly after its Aug. 28, 2015, effective date.

Once the proposed repeal rule is published, it will be subject to a public comment period.
Published in Federal
June 26, 2017, Lexington, IL - Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rainforest and coral reefs. Now, modern agriculture is trying to capture some of nature's wetland magic as a means to manage nutrients on the farm.
Published in News
June 23, 2017, Lansing, MI – The MSU EnviroImpact Tool is a new online tool that provides maps showing short-term runoff risks for daily manure application planning purposes—taking into account factors such as precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and landscape characteristics.

Farmers handling and applying livestock manure in Michigan can use this tool during any time of year to determine how risky it will be to spread manure on their fields.

"The MSU EnviroImpact Tool, jointly funded by MSU and MDARD, provides the latest technology in weather forecasting at the fingertips of Michigan farmers," said MSU Extension Agriculture and Agribusiness Institute Director Dr. Ronald Bates. "This online, mobile-friendly tool helps farmers assess their risk of possible runoff as they develop their manure spreading schedules. Farmers have the ability to adjust their management plans if a rainfall event on particular fields is imminent—enabling them to make better management decisions and improve their ability to protect Michigan's water quality."

The MSU EnviroImpact Tool is part of a multi-state regional effort to improve "Runoff Risk Decision Support" tools. 

Runoff Risk Decision Support tools are a unique example of collaboration between federal and state agencies, universities, and the agricultural industry to develop real-time tools and provide guidance to help address the issue of nutrient application timing.

While the purpose of this tool is to help reduce the risk of applied manure leaving agricultural fields, it is very important that farmers also follow Manure Management Plans and assess the risk for each field prior to manure applications.

Livestock producers and manure applicators can contact their local Conservation Districts or MSU Extension for help in developing a Manure Management Plan. Another resource for making manure application decisions is MDARD's Right to Farm Generally Accepted Agricultural Management Practices for Manure Management and Utilization.

"This initiative helps provide farmers with the latest tools necessary for farming profitably while reducing risks to Michigan's environment," said Joe Kelpinski, Manager of MDARD's MAEAP program. "The MSU EnviroImpact Tool, coupled with tools like the 'Manure Application Risk Index' and the 'Winter Manure Spreading Risk Based Decision Making Tool,' will give producers a suite of tools to apply manure to their fields and satisfy crop production needs more efficiently, effectively, and safely."

In the coming months, partners will continue to reach out to farmers, manure applicators, and others to increase awareness of this new beneficial tool. Those interested in viewing or using the MSU EnviroImpact Tool can visit www.enviroimpact.iwr.msu.edu.

For questions or comments, please contact Shelby Burlew at MSU Extension at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Jason Piwarski at the MSU Institute of Water Research at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; or Kip Cronk at Michigan Sea Grant at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Published in Applications
June 21, 2017, Fair Oaks, IN – On June 16, Midwestern BioAg was joined by more than 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of its new TerraNu fertilizer manufacturing plant.

The event, hosted at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, IN, featured remarks from Midwestern BioAg leadership and Mike McCloskey, co-founder and chairman of the board at Fair Oaks Farms. READ MORE




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