Environment Protection
February 15, 2018, Tillamook, OR – An Oregon dairy has been fined $16,800 for a massive manure spill that shut down Tillamook Bay last spring.

About 190,000 gallons of liquid manure were released from an above-ground storage tank at the dairy operation on April 12, 2017, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said.

The manure pooled in a field near the dairy barns, flowed across three other landowners’ properties, and ended up in a slough that connects to a drainage system that pumps water into the Tillamook River, which then enters the bay. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
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
Published in State
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
Published in State
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





Published in Regional
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
Published in State
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
Published in State
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.
Published in Air quality
February 1, 2018, Burlington, VT – What’s a responsible farmer to do? Manure injection is an important soil management practice that reduces the chance of manure runoff. But recent studies by Carol Adair and colleagues at the University of Vermont show manure injection can increase the release of harmful greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases contribute to the warming of our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide gets the most attention because so much is released as we burn fossil fuels. Nitrous oxide (yes, the “laughing gas” the dentist may give you) is also a powerful greenhouse gas. There isn’t nearly as much of it in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide: it makes up only about five percent of the greenhouse gases, compared to 82 percent for carbon dioxide. However, it is a much more potent greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential nearly 300 times greater than carbon dioxide.

About 40 percent of all nitrous oxide emissions come from human activities, and agriculture is by far the greatest source. About 90 percent of that contribution comes from soil and nutrient management practices like tilling and fertilizing. This means that changes in these practices have great potential to reduce nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture. But there is also the potential to make them worse.

That’s where manure injection comes into the story. Animal manure has been used as a fertilizer for thousands of years. It is an excellent source of nutrients for plants and helps build good soil. Manure slowly releases nitrogen, one of the primary elements that help plants grow. Because of this slow release, it does not have to be applied as often as commercial fertilizer.

Traditionally, manure has been spread, or broadcast, onto the fields. However, with changing weather patterns some areas have had heavier rains and more flooding. Many farmers are taking steps to avoid manure runoff that can affect the quality of lakes and streams nearby. One such step is manure injection, a relatively new way of applying manure. It helps keep the manure on the crops and on the fields. Manure injectors insert narrow troughs of liquid manure six to eight inches deep into the soil.

“Unfortunately, at that depth conditions are just right for producing nitrous oxide,” said Adair.

The soils are often wet and there is little oxygen. This leads microbes in the soil to change the way they convert organic matter into energy. This alternative process changes nitrogen into nitrous oxide as a byproduct.

Adair and her colleagues have been studying the potential of tillage and manure application methods to reduce nitrous oxide emissions. They are comparing conventional tilling versus no-till systems, and broadcast versus manure injection.

Through several farm and laboratory experiments, they have found the tillage method has little impact on nitrous oxide emissions. However, manure injection significantly increases nitrous oxide emissions compared to the broadcast method. This is especially true soon after injection. Warming soil in the spring and more winter thaw/freeze cycles in winters also seem to increase emissions. And when warmer winters are combined with manure injection, this multiplies the effect, leading to even more nitrous oxide emissions.

Adair says ongoing research may show the cause of winter and spring emissions and whether there are steps that can reduce them. Perhaps cover crops grown between main-crop seasons will be able to reduce wintertime nitrous oxide emissions. And perhaps the timing of manure injection is important.

“Injecting during dry periods seem to reduce emissions, and it may be that fall injection results in smaller emission pulses, but we don’t have enough evidence of the latter yet,” Adair explains. “Our work continues so we can find better answers for growers, and protect the environment.”

Adair presented this research at the October Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America in Tampa, FL.
Published in Manure Application
February 1, 2018, Sacramento, CA – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $9.64 million in grant funding to 17 alternative manure management projects across the state.

These projects, part of the Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP), will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on California dairy farms and livestock operations by using manure management practices that are alternatives to dairy digesters (i.e. non-digester projects).

The winning projects can be viewed here.

When livestock manure decomposes in wet conditions, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 72 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Changing manure management practices so that manure is handled in a dry form can help significantly reduce methane emissions. These reductions contribute to the state’s overall short-lived climate pollutant strategy under Senate Bill 1383, which aims to reduce California’s methane emissions to 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030.

“California dairy farmers are leading the way in proactively addressing greenhouse gas emissions” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “I am excited to see both the diversity of farms and the variety of non-digester manure management practices being adopted through these projects that will help meet the state’s climate goals.”

Financial assistance for the implementation of non-digester practices comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that uses Cap-and-Trade program funds to support the state’s climate goals. CDFA and other state agencies are investing these proceeds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide additional benefits to California communities. AMMP grant recipients will provide an estimated $2.7 million in matching funds for the development of their projects.

Information about the 2017 Alternative Manure Management Program projects is available at https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/AMMP/ .
Published in Dairy
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
Published in State
January 26, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Coming March 2018, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will have an option for livestock and poultry farmers to submit their annual Manure Management Plan (MMP) updates and pay compliance fees online.

The electronic (eMMP) option provides a simplified process for producers, their consultants, counties and the DNR.

Producers can submit annual short forms and pay fees from home, the office or their smart phone. Or, they can assign rights to their consultant to file the forms. The streamlined process will cut out driving to county offices for signatures. Instead, the DNR will notify counties once the submission is complete.

Producers can find out more about the process by going to DNR’s eMMP webpage and pre-registering for a Feb. 28 live webinar.




Published in State
January 26, 2018, Storrs, CT – Understanding the source of contaminants in waterways is crucial for public health and safety, and a University of Connecticut professor is developing an easy way to do just that.

All contamination will eventually find its way downstream. In Connecticut that means it may travel through neighborhoods where residents swim, to larger recreational areas such as beaches, and eventually to the Long Island Sound and shellfish beds. And, without knowing the exact source of the problem, the contamination can’t be addressed.

John Clausen of University of Connecticut’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, is now testing a protocol he developed to find the source. Clausen started this project almost by chance when he realized that a method had not yet been developed.

“I discovered that no one has perfected the technique for being able to look at a water sample, find E. coli and tell you where it came from, so that’s my quest,” he says.

The first step toward this goal was to identify the streams to monitor, which was a rigorous process, says Clausen.

While there are plenty of waterways in the state that are contaminated – 200 in 2016, according to Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection – the streams needed to pass by farmland.

Farm animals and animals, in general, are often the source of the contamination. So Clausen started in the Thames river Basin, initially picking more than 30 sites and then narrowing that number down to 10 streams.

Once the sites were chosen, Clausen installed a type of water sampler at each location to collect samples whenever there is a significant rainfall event.

“When you get one-to-two inch storms, you really get high E. coli values,” says Clausen.

To help with the collection efforts, the researchers coordinated volunteers to collect and deliver the water samples from all of the sites after heavy rain events. Clausen says they’ve become very good at watching the weather to determine when to collect samples.

Then the samples with high contamination are sent to a lab to quantify the level of coliform bacteria from animal sources.

Now Clausen is designing tests for E. coli specifically. He and his team of student researchers are developing tests for chicken, horse, cow and human sources. The process involves collecting fecal samples, isolating the bacteria and their DNA, pinpointing species specific markers to target and then working out the fine details to optimize the tests.

“We are now in the statistics part of development. This winter we’ll be sequencing to see how well our tests match up with the bacteria in the water samples,” says Clausen.

The overall goal is to identify producers and sources of contamination so remediation efforts can be put in place. Clausen points out that industry already has best practices to reduce E. coli in waterways from agricultural sources, manure management being one of those. When manure is not handled properly, for example, bacteria-rich runoff can easily make its way into our waterways.

“Just storing manure in holding tanks is very effective. There is a die-off period for pathogens, after which the manure can be spread more safely,” Clausen says.

Unfortunately for farmers, holding tanks are pricey and other best practices are not always easy to carry out.

But fortunately in the case of E. coli, unlike that for other types of runoff such as fertilizers, the E. coli that make their way into the watershed don’t seem to persist for quite so long.

Once bacterial source tracking is available and sources of contamination are identified, remediation efforts could potentially have a big impact on returning streams to safe levels fairly quickly.

“I’ve already had officials ask if we can start testing,” says Clausen. “We’re not there yet, but I think we’re close.”
Published in Other
January 25, 2018, Madison, WI – The state Department of Natural Resources Board has approved new restrictions on manure spreading in 15 eastern Wisconsin counties.

The DNR developed the rules largely in response to widespread groundwater contamination in Kewaunee County. Manure runoff has harmed drinking and surface water in parts of the county and other communities.

The regulations limit how much manure farms in the counties can spread. The limits vary according to the depth of each farm's topsoil. Farms with less than two feet of topsoil would be prohibited from spreading any manure. The restrictions also carve out zones around wells where farmers can't spread manure. READ MORE
Published in State
January 24, 2018, Madison, WI – Factory farms in eastern Wisconsin would have to limit manure spreading under new restrictions the state Department of Natural Resources board is poised to adopt in an attempt to protect groundwater from contamination.

The DNR has been working on the regulations for two years, largely in response to widespread drinking water contamination in Kewaunee County. The initial version called for statewide manure restrictions, but the dairy industry balked at the potential costs after Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s office shared the plan with farm groups. READ MORE




Published in State
January 23, 2018, Auburn, NY – A manure overflow in the town of Venice, NY, impacted Salmon Creek earlier this month, but it was not seen in Cayuga Lake, nor did it affect residents' water supplies, according to state and local officials.

The NY Department of Environmental Conservation said it was notified of a manure spill on Jan. 10 at Indian Field Road due to a mechanical failure in farm equipment. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
January 18, 2018, Kewaunee, WI – Kewaunee County officials Jan. 16 declined to pursue a moratorium on dairy herd expansion, saying it could hamper recent progress toward groundwater protection.

Corporation Counsel Jeff Wisnicky told the county Land & Water Conservation Committee that enforcement of regulations on manure land-spreading is better suited to the goal than trying to impose a moratorium on herd expansion. READ MORE



Published in Dairy
January 17, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Iowa lawmakers should halt construction on animal confinements until Iowa's water quality is significantly improved, a coalition of about two dozen state, local and national groups said Tuesday.

The Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture asked lawmakers to support 15 bills tightening oversight of confinements introduced by Sen. David Johnson, an independent from Ocheyeden. READ MORE
Published in Associations
January 17, 2018, Kewanee, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has made a final determination clearing the way for a local dairy operation to be reissued a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit for its concentrated animal feeding operation in Casco.

The permit, effective Feb. 1, 2018, through Jan. 31, 2023, sets the effluent limitations, monitoring requirements and other conditions regarding the management and use of manure and process wastewater generated by the operation’s 5,250 animal units. READ MORE
Published in State
January 17, 2018, Salem, OR – How did a Salem-area dairy rack up dozens of environmental violations over 15 years without the public knowing anything about it?

That’s what attendees at a public hearing on a new permit for the dairy asked the Oregon Department of Agriculture Jan. 10. READ MORE

Published in Dairy
January 16, 2017, East Lansing, MI – Michigan State University Extension is pleased to announce that Erica Rogers recently started as an Extension educator to serve the livestock industry throughout the state of Michigan.

“I am excited to build relationships with farmers locally and statewide to help them maximize production while remaining environmentally sound as well as educating community members on the important role that agriculture plays in the food system and the steps agriculture takes daily to protect the environment,” Rogers said.

She will be based out of the Gratiot County MSU Extension office in Alma, Michigan.

A native of Michigan, Rogers’ passion for both animal science and Extension programming began at a young age through her experiences in 4-H, which carried forward as she earned her bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University in 2012. Her dedication and interest in Extension programming led her to pursue a master’s degree in Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Animal Science, which she completed in 2017.

Rogers’ research efforts [which will be featured in an upcoming Manure Manager magazine feature] centered on environmental poultry management, focusing on discovering and promoting efficient poultry production systems that place minimum burden on the environment. Although managing manure and the by-products of poultry production are obvious endeavors, other important efforts include impacts of odor, flies and traffic (to name a few) on the environment. All of which are important to the sustainability of poultry production and processing in Pennsylvania. Rogers and her advisors, Dr. Paul Patterson and Dr. Michael Hulet, addressed this region’s industry needs for research-based information on poultry manure production and nutrient content within the Chesapeake Bay watershed through Rogers’ master’s thesis project, which investigated nutrients produced by commercial laying hens, laying hen pullets, broilers, turkeys, and breeders under changing management styles for use in the Chesapeake Bay models that determine Total Maximum Daily Loads. She presented her work at the 2017 International Poultry Scientific Forum during the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, GA, and the 2017 Poultry Science Association Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

Through her research efforts at Pennsylvania State University, Rogers has worked with poultry integrators and visited more than 70 farms, collecting manure samples from random points and at varying depths throughout manure stacks. The manure was sampled at the time of hauling to best represent the nutrients being land applied. Due to the nature of her research, Rogers discovered a passion for helping farmers be successful in their operations and to help the community better understand agriculture’s role in protecting the environment.  

Rogers can be reached at the Gratiot County MSU Extension office, 989-875-5233, or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Published in Other
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