February 21, 2017, Spallumcheen, BC – Conservation officers are investigating after a manure storage lagoon on a Spallumcheen farm overflowed.
The spill occurred in the same area where residents have been raising concerns about high levels of nitrates in their drinking water source, the Hullcar Aquifer. READ MORE
February 21, 2017 – Livestock farmers face many challenges. One of the most daunting is deciding where to apply manure during the winter months.
Rumors and fears about winter spreading bans have been circulating for years. The major concern with winter application of manure is losing manure nutrients in surface runoff from fields. Michigan State University Extension encourages farmers to be aware of different tools and practices that can minimize potentially negative effects associated with winter manure application, especially those that farm in priority watersheds such as the Western Lake Erie Basin and Saginaw Bay watersheds.
A conservation practice that farmers can implement to minimize manure runoff while capturing manure nutrients is to spread on fields that have a cover crop. Cover crops can capture and hold onto the manure so that it is less likely to leave the field. This practice may decrease the risk of manure nutrients running off into surface waters or leaching through field tiles. Cover crops can uptake the manure nutrients in the spring for an early growth. This not only means healthier plants but it also decreases the likelihood of nitrogen leaching through the soil and getting into groundwater. Another benefit may be an increase in biomass production, which equates to an increase in organic matter. Cover crops can improve soil health and less fertilizer may be needed for crop production.
If you would like to learn more about cover crops, the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) is holding its annual business meeting followed by a one-day conference this year in Michigan. The MCCC conference will be held on March 15, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza 5700 28th Street SE. Grand Rapids, MI 49546. The MCCC business meeting will precede the conference on March 14. This event is an opportunity for farmers, researchers, educators, agency personnel, NGOs and agribusiness to learn from one another about the latest information in successful cover cropping. Michigan State University Extension is hosting the meeting and conference. The theme of this year’s conference is “Making Cover Crops Work – Experiences from the Field.” In addition to joint sessions on cover crop termination and inter-seeding of cover crops, three concurrent sessions will feature cover crop use in field crops, vegetable crops and forage/grazing systems. CCA and RUP credits are pending. Exhibitors providing cover crop and other ag-related services will be present. Register on the MCCC annual meeting page.
A new tool is in the toolbox for Michigan livestock producers to use when making decisions on when and where to spread manure. The MSU EnviroImpact Tool is part of the Michigan Manure Management Advisory System that was been developed through a partnership between National Weather Service/NOAA, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP), Michigan State University (MSU) Institute of Water Research, Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension. The MSU EnviroImpact Tool provides maps showing short-term runoff risks for daily manure application planning purposes; taking into account factors including precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and landscape characteristics. Anyone that is handling and applying livestock manure in Michigan can use this tool to determine how risky it will be spread manure on his/her fields.
February 20, 2017, Auburn, NY – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Tompkins County Health Department officials recently responded to a manure spill that impacted Salmon Creek and Cayuga Lake.
As a result of a structural issue with a satellite manure storage lagoon at an area farm, emergency applications of manure were made to fields beginning February 16. Rapidly warming temperatures resulted in increased snowmelt that caused runoff of manure from several fields to enter Salmon Creek. A portion of the discharge reached Cayuga Lake, but did not threaten municipal water supplies.
DEC continues to work directly with the farm owner and Tompkins County to address the issue. The county advises anyone on a beach well or using lake water in that area to avoid consumption until more information is available.
Residents that drink water from Southern Cayuga Lake Intermunicipal Water Commission (SCLIWC or Bolton Point) should not be affected. The treatment process at the Bolton Point plant should disinfect any contamination. Further protection is provided by the location of their intake – about 400 feet off shore and 60 feet deep.
State and county officials also advise avoiding direct contact with waters in Salmon Creek or on Cayuga Lake's shore near the Salmon Creek inlet.
February 16, 2017, Whatcom, WA – The new CAFO waste discharge permit, long in development with the state Department of Ecology, was issued in final form in mid-January and will become effective March 3.
Exactly what it means at the local dairy farm level now remains to be seen. READ MORE
February 15, 2017, Chippewa Falls, WI – With good sense and advance planning, CAFOs won’t destroy rural life as we know it. When dairy farmers, the public and county government cooperate, there is room for both CAFOs and good public health, say two of the state’s leading authorities on Concentrated Animal Feed Operations.
State Toxicologist Robert Thiboldeaux and Davina Bonness, Kewaunee County land and water conservationist, shared their expertise with Dunn County’s Livestock Operations Study Group which has been meeting since December to solve the conflicts between large-scale farms and public health. READ MORE
February 15, 2017, Findlay, OH – Given the warmer than normal winter and large amounts of rainfall received in areas, some livestock producers will be looking to apply manure in February when farm fields are frozen enough to support application equipment.
Permitted farms are not allowed to apply manure in the winter unless it is an extreme emergency, and then movement to other suitable storage is usually the selected alternative. This article is for medium and small livestock operations. READ MORE
February 15, 2017, Sturgeon Bay, WI – About two dozen area residents asked two Door County committees to request the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to limit spreading manure on farm fields in Door and Kewaunee counties.
The joint meeting of the Door County Board of Health and the county's Land Conservation Committee was called to develop a statement that Dale Konkol, staff conservationist with the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department, would present at a DNR hearing regarding permit renewal for S & S Ag Enterprises LLC, a Forestville-based concentrated animal feed operation (CAFO). READ MORE
February 8, 2017, Olympia, WA – Western lawmakers have proposed an amendment to the federal Solid Waste Disposal Act to help farmers understand which manure management rules they’re supposed to follow.
HR 848, the Farm Regulatory Certainty Act, would reaffirm and clarify Congress’ intention regarding manure management under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, also known as the Solid Waste Disposal Act. READ MORE
February 7, 2017, Fargo, ND – Landowners living near a planned large hog farm in rural Cass County argue that significant changes made to the permit should have reopened the case for more public comment.
The arguments Feb. 6 in Cass County District Court on behalf of the Concerned Citizens of Buffalo were in opposition to Pipestone Holdings' Rolling Green Family Farms, a 9,000-swine factory farm, which would be built about 40 miles west of Fargo. READ MORE
February 2, 2017 – Hydrogen sulfide gas is a serious issue both in and around barns with liquid manure storage.
The decomposition of organic matter in manure results in the release of several gases: ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulfide among them. Most of the time these gases are emitted at low levels, but any time manure is being agitated or pumped, or the surface is disturbed, hydrogen sulfide can be rapidly released. READ MORE
February 1, 2017, Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $21,410 penalty on Rutland AD 1 for violating air pollution control regulations at Jordan Farms Organics Recyclery, an anaerobic digestion food waste processor.
MassDEP inspected the facility in May of 2016 and found the company had failed to obtain an Air Quality Plan Approval prior to installing a new engine generator, three receiving tanks, and a biofilter.
In a consent order, the company agreed to comply with the applicable regulations related to air quality controls and solid waste handling and pay the penalty. Up to $2,141 of the penalty will be suspended if the company fulfills all of the requirements it has agreed to and has no further violations for the next year.
"It is important that companies comply with the requirement to get approval prior to construction, so that MassDEP can ensure that all environmental standards will be met," said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "In addition, it can help companies save resources by not having to correct work that was done prior to getting the approval."
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.
January 30, 2017, Madison, WI – Wisconsin is known as America's dairy land – more than one-third of all the cows in America live on some 3,000 farms in the state. Those bovine residents contribute to a thriving dairy industry, but milk is not the only thing that they produce in prodigious quantities. That many cows inevitably leads to a significant amount of manure, and managing that organic waste is an important problem for everyone living in the state.
"It is a horribly complex problem and we all contribute to it and are affected by it," says Victor Zavala, the Richard H. Soit assistant professor in chemical and biological engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Farms generate the manure and we are all affected by its environmental impacts. But manure production is driven by strong economic forces originating from urban areas that demand dairy products."
Phosphorus runoff from manure causes algal blooms in water bodies. Manure also releases pathogenic bacteria and methane gas. Technologies do exist to process organic waste, while at the same time recovering valuable products such as biogas and struvite for fertilizer; but these technologies are expensive and affordable only for large farms.
Yet, deciding on a suitable solution involves much more than technology cost alone: Where to locate manure processing plants, how to transport the waste, and who should pay for the equipment are all challenging questions. With so many competing interests, no single individual can realistically keep track of all the costs, benefits, and constraints.
"This problem is too complex. You need to find simpler and more direct ways to explain the interactions between social, economic and technology aspects to people making decisions," says Zavala.
Conflicting stakeholder interests complicate the problem further; most of the time such conflicts arise unnecessarily because of a lack of data about technology and logistical constraints.
A decision-making framework can help people to better grasp the large number of factors that need to be considered and to narrow down the options to a few potential solutions – and Zavala and his colleagues are developing such a framework to help people reach agreements in complex and potentially controversial decisions such as manure management. By systematically quantifying costs, environmental impacts, and people's opinions and priorities, these tools can help lead to compromise solutions that maximize collective stakeholder satisfaction.
With support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Dane County in Wisconsin, Zavala is creating decision-making frameworks that government and industry can use to identify optimal strategies to tackle the manure management problem.
"We are hoping that with this framework, we can have a more informed negotiation process. Instead of just telling stakeholders what they should do, we want to provide better frameworks for people to negotiate on what the manure management infrastructure would do," says Zavala, who is leading the effort along with Rebecca Larson, an assistant professor of biological and systems engineering at UW-Madison.
Importantly, the researchers will include quantitative measures of stakeholders' satisfaction in their models to ensure that the opinions of all groups – rural and urban communities, farmers, politicians, environmental regulators, and scientists alike – are heard and considered.
"We try to come up with fair solutions that please as many stakeholders as possible, with the important observation that you will very rarely be able to please everyone," says Zavala. "The framework can also be used to inform stakeholders on how their opinions influence (or not) the final decision. That is a powerful piece of information."
In related research, Zavala and colleagues recently completed a project on organic waste management in Dane County, WI. That team included UW-Madison/UW Extension collaborators from the Departments of Biological Systems Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Soil Science, and Water Resources Management. Funding for the project was provided by Dane County. The team's analysis of the livestock in the Upper Yahara Watershed study area indicates an excess of up to nearly double the manure phosphorus in comparison to crop uptake. The level of excess indicates a need to redistribute the manure outside the study area.
January 30, 2017, Clive, IA — The Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA) is partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to offer additional cost share dollars to pig farmers installing new nutrient loss reduction technologies.
Through this program, IPPA will provide up to $25,000, throughout the next year, to offset up to 50 percent of costs for pig farmers to install saturated buffers or bioreactors on their farmland. Sites will be selected based on greatest opportunity for nitrate reduction and be geographically dispersed throughout the state to aid in education and demonstration opportunities.
“Bioreactors and saturated buffers are new practices that have been developed to address water quality, so this $25,000 investment will help us install them at sites across the state so we can continue to demonstrate to farmers how they may be able fit on their farm,” said Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. “I greatly appreciate the Iowa Pork Producers Association for making this significant investment. This is another great example of ag groups in Iowa stepping up to help improve water quality.”
“We are happy to partner with IDALS to offer this program and technical assistance,” said 2017 IPPA President Curtis Meier, a pig farmer from Clarinda, IA. “While these practices are not specific to pork production, our leaders have recognized the importance of enhancing assistance to install and build awareness of these exciting new edge-of-field technologies.”
January 30, 2017 – An environmental quality engineer at South Dakota State University says a combination of strategies can be used to successfully address the odor emitted from swine operations.
Odor mitigation strategies will be among the topics discussed as part of the 2017 Manitoba Swine Seminar Feb. 2 and 3 in Winnipeg, Man.
Dr. Erin Cortus, an environmental quality engineer at South Dakota State University, says in and around the area in which she works odor has become a predominant issue when it comes to citing new facilities.
“When it comes to reducing odor, one of the first places to look is at the manure,” says Dr. Cortus.
“Are there ways to alter what’s in the manure, whether that’s through maybe changing the diet so that we reduce excess nutrients going into the manure or trying to cover that manure as much as we can. Once there is odor or gasses released, can we block it, can we filter it before it leaves?”
“There are some strategies to do that. One of the strategies that we employ with South Dakota State University on some of our farms is biofilters. The air that’s exhausted from mechanically ventilated barns is passed through a bed of wood chips that supports a microbial biomass.”
“That microbial biomass consumes some of the odors and gasses in the air that’s exhausted from the barns so it's a form of filtration but them also this biological activity reduces odor and gasses,” she adds. “That's one strategy that we've had success with. Then we also can look at how can we enhance the dispersion or the mixing of the air that leaves the farm so that the concentration is decreased down wind of the facility.”
“Anything we can do to enhance that mixing of the air, pushing that air up higher into the atmosphere where it’s faster and more turbulent or some sort of filtration down wind through shelterbelts are a common example of how we can approach that.”
Dr. Cortus says odor has always been an issue but, with some large facilities in particular and with new facilities where there hasn't been as much concentrated livestock, odor has become a hot issue.
January 30, 2017, Eyota, MN – A MN dairy farmer found himself in a nightmarish situation Monday night when a valve broke on the liquid manure tank.
But a supervisor for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the farmer did an excellent job containing the spill and notifying officials. His quick action prevented environmental damage. READ MORE
According to the local Sheriff's Office, the farmer called authorities after a valve broke on a pipe that leads from the cattle to the manure storage tank. READ MORE
January 23, 2017, Stephenville, TX – Dr. Eunsung Kan sees his concept of a closed-loop dairy farm – which reuses wastewater, emits zero waste and powers itself on manure – as the future of sustainable animal farming.
Dr. Kan, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research chemical and environmental engineer in Stephenville, said his concept could change the way dairies, swine and poultry farms deal with manure, wastewater and greenhouse gasses while utilizing the waste to generate electricity.
Animal waste is a blessing and curse for dairies.
Manure is sold to local farmers who need to infuse nutrients into the soil for crops and forage. However, tons of manure can also be logistically taxing as facilities keep up with the treatment and distribution of large quantities of environmentally problematic materials monitored by state and federal environmental regulators.
Farm operations have been implicated in higher-than-normal levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, antibiotics, heavy metals and hormones in surface and groundwater downstream from facilities. Manure is also a known contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane and carbon dioxide.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates manure from a dairy milking 200 cows can produce as much nitrogen as is in the sewage from a community of 5,000 to 10,000 people.
Dr. Kan’s research would utilize existing technology – biochar, a carbon material similar to charcoal, created from animal manure and agricultural waste, such as corn stubble or rice straw – that would be used to filter solid waste and effluent. The biochar could be used as a slow-release fertilizer or converted, via pyrolysis, which is the decomposition of organic material by heat, into energy to power the farm.
The closed-loop dairy concept focuses on three main goals – wastewater treatment using dairy manure-derived biochar, producing bioenergy using dairy manure and capturing greenhouse gasses via adsorption onto dairy manure-derived biochar, Dr. Kan said.
Biochar has proven to provide a beneficial surface chemistry that can filter a wide range of contaminants, including nitrogen and phosphorous, he said. When the surface of biochar is modified with several methods in a lab, it has shown an ability to capture antibiotics, pesticides, hormones, heavy metals and other possible contaminants.
“The mission is the treatment and reuse of dairy wastewater and the conversion of dairy waste into energy to power the facility,” he said. “It focuses on providing a model for sustainable farming.”
Last year, Dr. Kan received a $1 million grant from the Texas A&M University Chancellor’s Research Initiative Fund to research the viability of the closed-loop dairy system. Before joining AgriLife Research, he also received about $400,000 in research grants from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Geological Survey to research the concept’s potential to treat animal waste, control greenhouse gas emissions and convert manure to energy.
The closed-loop dairy is a relatively simple concept, Dr. Kan said.
Cows produce manure, which when mixed with remnants of local crops, can become a seemingly endless supply of filtering material, fertilizer and energy.
Columns filled with biochar would act as a water purification system that filters nitrogen, phosphorous and other contaminants from liquid as it passes through, Dr. Kan said.
“The affluent from the column would then be very low in nitrogen and phosphorous,” he said. “If we filter to low levels of nitrogen and phosphorus it wouldn’t cause any environmental problem.”
The biochar used to filter nitrogen and phosphorous could then be used as slow-release fertilizer that provides needed nutrients to plants and would not wash away as runoff from heavy rains. In addition, biochar immobilized with photocatalysts would decompose toxic contaminants to harmless products when irradiated by exposure to ultraviolet light.
For instance, Dr. Kan’s study has shown that a biochar immobilized with photocatalysts completely degraded antibiotic and hormone compounds while effectively controlling pathogens. The potential for biochar’s use to filter wastewater goes beyond agriculture and could be applied at any wastewater treatment plant, or even to filter contaminants in injection water used in the petroleum industry for fracking.
For energy, dairy manure would be fed into a pyrolysis reactor on site that would use relatively low heat, 500 to 1,000 Fahrenheit, to create compressed hydrogen and carbon monoxide syngas that can be used to create electric power, Dr. Kan said. Excess electricity could be sold to local utility companies. The byproduct from pyrolysis of dairy manure is biochar.
“The principle is very simple,” Dr. Kan said. “The dairy would just need a different size reactor to meet its scale of manure output and energy needs.”
Dr. Sergio Capareda, an AgriLife Research agricultural engineer in College Station, proved the pyrolytic conversion of dairy manure to syngas and biochar from his USDA-funded project. Dr. Kan plans to advance this concept by biologically converting syngas to butanol and bio-jet fuel as alternative transportation fuels, and developing biochar-based processes for wastewater treatment and greenhouse gas control.
Several other researchers and engineers within the Texas A&M system are collaborating with Dr. Kan, and interest in the concept is growing among public institutions and private companies.
Dr. Kan will produce a lab-scale version of the closed-loop dairy to determine the necessary scale for application and experimentation at the neighboring Southwest Regional Dairy Center in Stephenville, a privately owned working dairy operated by Tarleton State University used for educational purposes. He hopes to have a system, including the pyrolysis reactor, operating at the dairy within three to four years.
“Having the dairy farm here provides a good opportunity for field data,” he said. “The field demonstrations will help us work out any problems that might arise at the various scales that might be applied by commercial animal farms.”
The dairy produces milk that is processed for consumption and into products such as cheese and yogurt and sold in local grocery stores.
Clay Dameron, the dairy’s waste manager, said between 300 to 400 cows are milked daily. Those cows produce manure and effluent that is treated via a conventional lagoon system. Around 90 to 130 tons of solids are moved to nearby croplands and pastures every three weeks where it’s used as fertilizer. Treated liquids from the lagoon are dispersed via sprinklers in nearby fields.
Dr. Kan said he believes the closed-loop system will prove to be a logistically and financially viable model for dairy producers to implement in the future. He expects his pilot project at the regional dairy to produce data that will draw more interest and investment from public institutions and private companies.
“It is very exciting,” he said. “I look forward to working with my collaborators and colleagues to make this concept a reality that could change the way dairies operate by providing a self-sustaining, environmentally friendly model.”
January 23, 2017, Olympia, WA – Washington environmental regulators have released new permit rules aimed at reducing the amount of manure pollution that gets into rivers, lakes and other bodies of water from large dairy farms and other animal feedlots.
The rules will change the regulatory landscape for the state's 230 dairies with more than 200 cows, as well as other so-called concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Embracing the rules may shield dairies from government fines or lawsuits by environmental groups, but will mean taking on new obligations with uncertain costs READ MORE
January 23, 2017, Little Rock, AR – A study conducted at C&H Hog Farms found no evidence of a hog manure leak at the farm 6 miles from the Buffalo River, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has concluded.
State-hired contractors conducted research Sept. 21 to 26 at C&H. The research involved drilling 120.5 feet into the ground and taking several soil, water and soil leachate samples at different levels, then comparing the results with samples taken in other parts of Newton County and with U.S. Geological Survey data taken in 2004. READ MORE
A copy of the report's Executive Summary and Responses is available here.
January 23, 2017, Rock Valley, IA – Meadowvale Dairy has agreed to pay a civil penalty and take actions to prevent illegal discharges to Iowa streams in compliance with the Clean Water Act, officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced recently.
Meadowvale Dairy operates multiple concentrated animal feeding operations in Rock Valley, IA.
Since 2002, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has identified multiple violations of the dairy’s two National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, which included fish kills in tributaries that lead to the Big Sioux River in 2004 and 2009. State and EPA inspections discovered evidence of additional unauthorized discharges of stormwater runoff into the tributaries in 2013 and 2014.
“The vast majority of animal feeding operations adhere to the law and actively seek to be responsible stewards of the environment,” said Mark Hague, EPA Region 7 regional administrator. “The settlement today helps ensure a level playing field for all operators by holding those who violate environmental regulations accountable.”
As outlined in the proposed consent decree lodged in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, in addition to civil penalties Meadowvale Dairy will be required to implement injunctive relief that includes short-term and long-term corrective measures to prevent unpermitted discharges of pollutants into tributaries. Injunctive relief includes:
- Retain an independent third party to develop and perform an audit, verifying compliance with the requirements of the proposed consent decree.
- Comply with all requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, including adherence to its Nutrient Management Plan. A Nutrient Management Plan typically outlines management and conservation practices to optimize productivity of the operation while conserving nutrients and protecting the environment. It may include practices such as appropriate manure and fertilizer storage and handling methods, managing the diet of the animals, and/or irrigation practices.
- Ensure all production areas are designed, constructed and operated to prevent unpermitted discharges with an exclusion for a 25-year, 24-hour storm event.
EPA estimates that changes made by Meadowvale required by this proposed settlement will result in a reduction of approximately 200,000 pounds of pollutants discharged annually. These reductions help to protect aquatic ecosystems, decrease sedimentation and improve overall water quality.
The settlement also requires Meadowvale Dairy to pay $160,000 in civil penalties for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to mismanagement of animal wastes.
Meadowvale Dairy operates two NPDES-permitted operations, confining approximately 10,000 head of cattle on a combined 185 acres in Rock Valley. The operation includes four locations – North Site and South Site (both permitted), a calf barn/hut, and a satellite concrete manure storage structure.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Meadowvale Dairy would be required to pay the monetary penalty within 30 days of the court's approval of the settlement.
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South Dakota Pork CongressWed Jan 10, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Minnesota Pork CongressTue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Value of Biogas WestTue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin Annual MeetingThu Jan 18, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
Iowa Pork CongressWed Jan 24, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 International Poultry ExpoMon Jan 29, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM