Environment Protection
Arlington, Virginia - Frank Mitloehner, PhD, will debunk myths about animal agriculture's environmental impact at the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 2018 Stakeholders Summit, set for May 3-4, at the Renaissance Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Mitloehner is a professor and extension air quality specialist in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert on agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry. Overall, he conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations, as well as the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities.

"There is a lot of misinformation about how much animal agriculture actually contributes to the nation's greenhouse gas emissions and overall environmental impact," said Kay Johnson Smith, Alliance president and CEO. "With the industry's commitment to continuous improvement, Summit attendees will find Mitloehner's research enlightening and refreshing."

The Alliance also announced that the Summit has been approved for eight continuing education credits by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. ARPAS members in attendance can request credit using www.arpas.org or by contacting Cornicha Henderson at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

To register, visit http://animalagalliance.org/summit. Be sure to check the Summit website for the most up-to-date Summit information. You can also follow the hashtags #AAA18 and #ProtectYourRoots for periodic updates about the event. For general questions about the Summit please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call (703) 562-5160.
Published in News
While April showers might bring May flowers, they also contribute to toxic algae blooms, dead zones and declining water quality in U.S. lakes, reservoirs and coastal waters, a new study shows.
Published in Other
Assistant professor of environmental studies Cassie Gurbisz was among 14 co-authors of a new research article published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The article reports the positive impact of long-term nutrient reductions on an important and valuable ecosystem in the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists indicate the resurgence of underwater grasses supports nutrient reductions from EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). This, along with conservation incentives, has resulted in a healthier Chesapeake Bay.

Jonathan Lefcheck, PhD, formerly of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and now at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, along with Gurbisz and 12 co-authors, shows that a 23 percent reduction of average nitrogen levels in the Bay and an eight percent reduction of average phosphorus levels have resulted in a four-fold increase in abundance of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) in the Chesapeake Bay. This ecosystem recovery is an unprecedented event; based on the breadth of data available and a sophisticated data analysis, this is the biggest resurgence of underwater grasses ever recorded in the world.

The researchers employed advanced analytical tools to definitively show how the reduction of excess pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus are the cause of this ecosystem recovery. To link land use and Chesapeake Bay status, researchers analyzed data in two different ways: one focusing on the cascade of nutrients from the land to the waterways, and one showing what happens to SAV once the nutrients are in the water.

Gurbisz said she participated in a series of workshops with scientists who study various aspects of SAV ecology. She said she helped develop the conceptual basis of the project and was excited that the work generated relevant results related to restoring the Chesapeake Bay.

The published findings are a collaborative effort between the following agencies: Virginia Institute of Marine Science, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program, U.S. Geological Survey, National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, St. Mary's College of Maryland, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Published in News
Gibsonburg, Ohio - An agricultural scientist said farmers are contributing to the efforts to reduce the phosphorus runoff that leads to Lake Erie's harmful algal blooms, but cautioned that the battle must continue.

Mark Riehl, an agronomist with Sunrise Cooperative, spoke at the Sandusky County Chamber of Commerce's 2018 Ag Week Kickoff Breakfast on Friday at Ole Zim's Wagon Shed in Gibsonburg.

"The phosphorus cycle and how it occurs is rather complicated," Riehl said. "That's part of the reason why this isn't a quick-resolve issue." | READ MORE
Published in News
Long term trials conducted in Saskatchewan have shown the application of livestock manure fertilizer typically improves the health of the soil.

The University of Saskatchewan has been conducting long term livestock manure application trials, in some cases on plots that have been studied for over 20 years, looking at the implications of using livestock manure at various rates with different application methods throughout Saskatchewan's major soil climatic zones.

Dr. Jeff Schoenau, a professor with the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture research chair in soil nutrient management, says the organic matter in manure, especially in solid manures, can directly benefit things like soil structure, water retention and so on.

"I think in terms of effect on the soil, especially with the solid manures where we're adding a fair bit of organic matter to the soil, we certainly see some beneficial effects show up there in terms of increased organic matter content, increased carbon storage. We see some positive benefits as well in water relations, things like infiltration," said Dr. Schoenau.

"We also need to be aware that manures also contain salts and so, particularly some manure that may be fairly high in for example sodium, we do need to keep an eye on the salt and sodium content of the soil where there's been repeated application of manure to soils where the drainage is poor. Generally what we've found is that the salts that are added as manure in soils that are well drained really don't create any kinds of issues. But we want to keep an eye on that in soils that aren't very well drained because those manures are adding some salts, for example sodium salts."

Dr. Schoenau says, when manure is applied at a rate that is in balance with what the crop needs and takes out over time, we have no issues in terms of spill over into the environment. He says that balance is very important, putting in what you're taking out over time.
Published in Other
February 26, 2018, Des Moines, IA – Recent application denials at the county level mean more Iowans see the need for a moratorium on new factory farms, according to Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

The Iowa Pork Producers Association said a moratorium on hog farms would devastate Iowa's economy and livestock producers. READ MORE
Published in Swine
February 21, 2018, Tucker, GA – The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association recognized six poultry farm winners and three finalists who received the annual Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award at the International Poultry Expo, part of the 2018 International Production & Processing Expo.

The award is given annually in acknowledgment of exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.

“It is a privilege to recognize these nine family farms for the excellent job they do in being good stewards of their land,” said Tom Hensley, president, Fieldale Farms, Baldwin, Ga., and newly elected U.S. Poultry chairman. “Our industry could not continue to operate and flourish without taking proper care of our natural resources. These six winners and three finalists are to be commended for their efforts.”

Applicants were rated in several categories, including dry litter management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management techniques and participation in education or outreach programs. In selecting the national winners and finalists, applications were reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies and state poultry associations.

The winners were chosen from six geographical regions from throughout the United States. They are as follows:

Northeast Region winner – Baker’s Acres, Millsboro, Del. Terry Baker Jr., nominated by Mountaire Farms

North Central Region winner – Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Saranac, Mich. Greg Herbruck, nominated by Eggland’s Best, LLC

South Central Region winner – 4 T Turkey Farm, California, Mo. Bill and Lana Dicus, nominated by Cargill

Southeast Region winner – Morrison Poultry, Wingo, Ky. Tim and Deena Morrison, nominated by the Kentucky Poultry Federation and Tyson Foods

Southwest Region winner – Woape Farm, West, Tex. Ken and Dana Smotherman, nominated by the Texas Poultry Federation and Cargill

West Region winner – Pickin’ N Pluckin’, Ridgefield, Wash. Rod and Glenda Hergert, nominated by Foster Farms

There were also three finalists recognized at the award presentation. They are as follows:

West Region finalist – Hiday Poultry Farms LLC, Brownsville, Ore. Randy Hiday, nominated by Foster Farms

Northeast Region finalist – Foltz Farm K, Mathias, W.Va. Kevin and Lora Foltz and sons, nominated by Cargill

South Central finalist – Featherhill Farm, Elkins, Ark. Bud and Darla O’Neal, nominated by Cargill

Published in Poultry
February 16, 2018 – A U.S.-Canadian agency says there's little doubt that commercial fertilizer and manure are the top sources of phosphorus pollution in western Lake Erie.

The International Joint Commission says its science advisory board based the conclusion on an extensive analysis of existing data about the shallowest of the Great Lakes. READ MORE





Published in Other
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
An over-wintering cow-calf beef herd produces manure – quite a lot of it.
Published in Beef
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

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