Odor management rules are among the many regulations defining how animal farmers handle never ending piles of manure or the way it is spread on fields for fertilizer.
The spread of manure by Pennsylvania farmers is regulated to keep pollutants from seeping into the air and waterways.
A bill moving quickly through the state Legislature would remove an advisory panel with input on those regulations, the Nutrient Management Advisory Board, and replace it with a new panel, the Farm Animal Advisory Board, broadening the scope of oversight and changing the make-up of the members to mostly large farmers. The move minimizes the role of environmentalists, critics say. | READ MORE
The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool uses past and predicted National Weather Service weather data like precipitation, temperature, and snow melt. It predicts the likelihood that applied manure will run off fields in daily, next day, and 72-hour increments.
Farmers and commercial applicators use an interactive map to locate their field and find the forecasted risk.
Users can also sign up for email or text messages for their county that alert them to a severe runoff risk for that day.
"By providing this information, we hope to give our farmers and commercial manure applicators the tools they need to make well-informed decisions," said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. "By being able to better predict times of high runoff risk, we can decrease the potential loss of manure to our waterways and increase farm productivity by saving nutrients on the land. It is a win-win situation based on an easy-to-use tool."
When someone goes to the interactive map, the runoff risk is displayed in one of four categories: no runoff expected, low, moderate, and severe. When the risk is moderate or severe, it is recommended that the applicator evaluate the situation to determine if there are other locations or later dates when the manure application could take place.
The forecasting tool can also be used by others looking for climate information including two-inch soil depth temperatures which are useful at planting time, and six-inch soil depth temperatures which are helpful when determining fall fertilizer application in appropriate areas.
The Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is part of a larger federal project. The National Weather Service has provided data and guidance to states to create similar tools in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. State funding for the project was provided by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.
Pen-pack manure contains the macro nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash along with a host of micronutrients.
The nutrient content can vary depending on species, feed products fed, and the amounts of straw or sawdust used for bedding.
The farm's manure handling and storage practices also impact the nutrient content of manure. Manure stored under roof will usually maintain a higher nutrient value than manure exposed to rainfall. | READ MORE
"Make sure you're staying out of the areas you need to," said David Ginder, environmental protection specialist for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. "The key question should be if there are areas were livestock manure can run off this field." | READ MORE
The Iowa Administrative Code only allows a maximum of 100 pounds N per acre manure application on ground to be planted to soybean. However, it does allow fields that had liquid manure applied at rates intended for growing corn to be switched to soybean on or after June 1 with no penalty of over-application of manure nitrogen. Thus if a field planned for corn has not been planted and will be switched to soybean, this can be done. Producers should document the changes in crop rotation, application methods and other changes in their annual manure management plans.
Given it has been a wet spring in some areas, nutrient management and specifically, nitrogen loss may be top of mind. Livestock producers with Iowa Department of Natural Resources [DNR] manure management plans are reminded if they have already applied the maximum nitrogen rate to the field, they can’t apply additional sources of nitrogen unless the need is confirmed by the use of a Late Spring Nitrate Test. This test measures nitrate-N concentration at the 0 to 12-inch depth.
Results can be interpreted by the ISU Extension and Outreach publication “Use of the Late-Spring Soil Nitrate Test in Iowa Corn Production” (CROP 3140), which considers both the original fertilizer source and the amount of rain that occurred in May (excessive is more than five inches in May). When adding extra nitrogen, be sure to document soil sample results and reference the publication to interpret the test results in management plans.
While fall provided favorable application conditions, and periods in March were favorable, producers should plan ahead if not as much manure as normal is applied in the spring. Having a plan in place will help prevent potential issues from turning into problems. Keep an eye on storage, and have a plan for needed action.
This project is part of Smithfield Renewables, the company's new platform dedicated to unifying and accelerating its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts.
The project reuses organic matter found in hog manure to create a commercial-grade fertilizer that is higher in nutrient concentration than the original organic materials.
Farmers are able to better manage nutrient ratios while using less fertilizer by applying precisely what they need for optimal plant growth.
Because Anuvia's products contain organic matter, nutrient release is more controlled, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller environmental footprint.
Anuvia will utilize remnant solids from Smithfield that accumulate over time at the bottom of the anaerobic lagoons, basins designed and certified to treat and store the manure on hog farms.
Anuvia, which specializes in the transformation of organic materials into enhanced efficiency fertilizer products, will manufacture and sell these commercial-grade fertilizer products to farmers nationwide.
"Through Smithfield Renewables, we are aggressively pursuing opportunities to reduce our
environmental footprint while creating value," said Kraig Westerbeek, senior director of Smithfield Renewables. "Along with projects that transform biogas into renewable natural gas, this is another example of how we are tackling this goal on our hog farms."
"This is the beginning of a partnership based on a shared vision that will positively impact livestock and crop production," says Amy Yoder, Anuvia Plant Nutrients CEO. "Our proprietary manufacturing process which converts organic waste into novel bio-based plant nutrients is both environmentally friendly and sustainable. Our products reduce leaching and put organic matter back in the soil. Our process is a prototype for a circular economy as we reclaim organic waste, convert and reuse on cropland. This relationship provides a new sustainable way for Smithfield to return its remnant solids back to the land for use on the crops grown to feed the hogs. The impact of this is extremely significant for hog production and the livestock industry. We look forward to helping achieve both Smithfield's and Anuvia's environmental goals."
Company-owned and contract hog farms in North Carolina will participate in this project.
Smithfield will collect and begin the process by de-watering the waste solids before providing the remnants to Anuvia. Once acquired, Anuvia will pick-up and transport the material to their processing plant to create the fertilizer.
However, FYM is only as valuable as the chemical fertiliser that can be saved by using it. According to Teagasc, if farmers are importing organic fertiliser without making adjustments in chemical fertiliser applications, then the organic fertiliser will not be saving any money.
Volatile chemical fertiliser prices in recent years have resulted in equally volatile organic fertiliser value. This can complicate decisions of whether or not to import organic fertilisers onto the farm. | READ MORE
Farmers who are able to properly use the manure produced on their farms save money in fertilizer costs. Szemborski said injecting the manure into soil allows for reduced runoff and loss of nutrients, while also reducing odor from the manure due to the ammonia that causes the smell being locked into the soil during injection. | READ MORE
Ohio farm organizations and their partners will work with farmers to expand the number of individuals who have Nutrient Management Plans. In addition, the project will increase the use of soil testing to achieve improved nutrient management.
A series of workshops will provide farmers with individualized Nutrient Management Plans. Ahead of the workshops, farmers will be advised on obtaining soil tests from which the Nutrient Management Plan will be written. The plans will be completed using a program developed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Bioreactors, which are woodchip-filled ditches and trenches, are often used near crop fields to filter the water running off of them. The woodchips enhance a natural process called denitrification that prevents too much nitrogen from getting into other bodies of water like rivers and streams.
"This process is a natural part of the nitrogen cycle that is done by bacteria in soil all around the world," explains Laura Christianson. Christianson is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois. "In a bioreactor, we give these natural bacteria extra food—the carbon in the woodchips—to do their job. These bacteria clean the nitrate from the water."
Because it is the bacteria that do this water-cleaning process, it's called a biological process, hence the name bioreactor. By giving them extra food (the woodchips have much more carbon than the surrounding soil), they are "super-powering" this natural process.
"Nitrate in ag drainage is often 100 percent pinned on fertilizer, but it's actually much more complicated," Christianson adds. "In short, nitrate in drainage comes from both fertilizer and manure applications and also importantly from natural nitrogen that exists in the soil."
Christianson studies how well different types of bioreactors take nitrogen out of the water. Her team's work has shown they are effective in the Midwest. Next, they wanted to test them in the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
"Bioreactors are a farmer-friendly practice that has gotten a lot of interest in the Midwest, and so it made sense to see if bioreactors could also work for ag ditch drainage in the Mid-Atlantic," she says. "Why did we need to retest them? The key scientific question had to do with the different environment. Differences in the landscape between the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions required further testing."
The researchers tested three different kinds of bioreactors in the Chesapeake Bay area. They all treated water that was either headed to a drainage ditch or already flowing through a drainage ditch.
One was a bioreactor placed in a ditch. Another was a bioreactor next to a ditch. The last type was a sawdust wall that treated groundwater flowing very slowly under the ground to the ditch.
The group's findings showed that all three types worked in reducing the amount of nitrogen headed from the field into nearby water.
This is good news for watersheds. Too much nitrogen throws off the balance of nitrogen in bodies of water and can set off a process that results in the death of the water's plants and fish. For this current research, the goal was to limit the nitrogen getting from the Mid-Atlantic into the Chesapeake Bay.
The next step in this research, Christianson says, is to further test bioreactors in this area and others so they are better constructed and more effective.
"This is a relatively easy idea that cleans up water without taking much of farmers' time or land," she says. "We need practical solutions like this so farmers can continue to produce food and fiber, while also protecting natural resources. I like that it's a natural process; we're just enhancing it. There's a nice simplicity to it."
Learn more about this work in Agricultural & Environmental Letters. Christianson's research is also highlighted at https://www.agronomy.org/about-agronomy/at-work/laura-christianson. The research was funded by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant.
The University of Saskatchewan has been looking at the long term implications of using livestock manure to fertilize crops.
Dr. Jeff Schoenau, a professor with the University of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Research Chair in Soil Nutrient Management, says typically only a portion of manure nutrients are available in the first year of application. For the full story, CLICK HERE.
To hear the latest about applying liquid manure as a side dress to growing corn and wheat crops check out Manure Manager's webinar event featuring Ohio State University associate professor and manure nutrient management specialist Glen Arnold.
Arnold is an associate professor with Ohio State University Extension and serves as a field specialist in the area of manure nutrient management application. His on-farm research focuses on the use of livestock manure as a spring top-dress fertilizer on wheat and as a side dress fertilizer for corn. His research goal is to move livestock producers toward applying manure during the crop growing season instead of late fall application window. His more recent research has focused on side dressing emerged corn with a soft drag hose system.
Arnold has years of experience conducting in-field trials using drag hose and tanker mounted toolbars to apply liquid manure "in-season." Learn from his expertise.
To veiw a free, live recording of this Manure Manager webinar event, held September 2017, register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7877962713919454978
What was done
Winter cereal rye planted as a cover crop has been shown effective in capturing nitrate before it leaches from the root zone. We conducted on-farm trials in central and southern Minnesota to determine if a rye cover crop would capture significant root-zone nitrate in the fall and spring but release it in time to maintain yield in the subsequent corn crop.
In the fall of 2015 and 2016, we partnered with 19 farmers (ten in 2015 and nine in 2016) to drill strips of cereal rye immediately after harvest of corn silage or soybean. After the rye was established and soil temperatures began to fall, we injected liquid dairy or swine manure into the cover crop and check strips. Three replications (with and without cover crop) were planted as wide or wider than the farmer's combine or silage chopper. The following spring, we sampled the cover crop for biomass and nitrogen content. We also soil sampled the cover crop and check strips to a 24-inch depth for nitrate. The rye was terminated, usually before reaching eight inches in height. In most cases, the rye was terminated with herbicide and tilled in. Corn was planted in the cover crop and check strips, usually with a small amount of starter nitrogen. We measured yield and nitrogen content of the corn at harvest.
Fall manure injection into cereal rye cover crop.
Fall manure injection into cereal rye cover crop.
Cereal rye at same location two weeks after manure injection
Cereal rye at same location two weeks after manure injection
Spring rye growth at the same site.
Spring rye growth at the same site.
Our results indicated
Spring Soil 24 inch Nitrate. Cover crop had 124 pounds of nitrate nitrogen per acre. No cover crop had 202 pounds of nitrate nitrogen per acre. The difference was 78 pounds of nitrate nitrogen per acre.
In both years, adequate growing season existed to establish the rye cover crop after either corn silage or soybean harvest, but above-ground fall growth was limited.
The rye was very resilient to manure injection, however, stand reduction was considerable at two sites where shank injectors or disk coverers were too aggressive.
Spring rye growth was good at most sites, with soil nitrate reduced under the cover crop compared to the check strips at all sites.
Rye growth and nitrogen uptake were greater in southern than central Minnesota.
Across sites, there was no significant difference in silage or grain yield between the cover crop and check strips.
Grain yield adjusted to 15 percent moisture. Cover crop yielded 199.5 bushels per acre whereas no cover crop yielded 201.2 bushels per acre.
Corn silage yield adjusted to 65 percent moisture. Cover crop yielded 20.7 tons per acre whereas no cover crop yielded 20.8 tons per acre.
Take home message
We concluded that, in central and southern Minnesota, it is feasible to establish cereal rye cover crop after corn silage or soybean harvest, inject liquid manure, capture root-zone nitrate with the rye, and deliver sufficient nitrogen to the subsequent corn crop.
Additional experiments are needed to determine any nitrogen recovery effect of no-till vs tillage termination, as well as supplemental nitrogen needs if the rye were terminated at a later maturity.
Authors: Les Everett, University of Minnesota Water Resources Center and Randy Pepin, University of Minnesota Extension
Reviewer: Melissa Wilson, University of Minnesota and Mary Berg, North Dakota State University
The DNR received a complaint on July 18, 2017, from the neighbor who said manure from the facility was running into his field, according to a consent order from the DNR. READ MORE
In the Midwest, the problem is largely due to phosphorus, a key element in fertilizers that is carried off the land and into the water, where it grows algae as easily as it grows corn and soybeans.
Previous research had found that waterways receive most of their annual phosphorus load in only a dozen or two events each year, reports Steve Carpenter, director emeritus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Limnology and lead author of a new paper published online in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.
The paper ties those phosphorus pulses to extreme rain events. In fact, Carpenter says, the bigger the rainstorm, the more phosphorus is flushed downstream.
Carpenter and his colleagues used daily records of stream discharge to measure the amount of phosphorus running into Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisc., from two of its main tributaries.
The dataset spanned a period from the early 1990s to 2015. The scientists then looked at long-term weather data and found that big rainstorms were followed immediately by big pulses of phosphorus.
The researchers reviewed stream data from the same period, when seven of the 11 largest rain storms since 1901 occurred.
"This is an important example of how changes in one aspect of the environment, in this case precipitation, can lead to changes in other aspects, such as phosphorus load," said Tom Torgersen, director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Water, Sustainability and Climate program, which, along with NSF's Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program, funded the research.
“This study's findings, which depend on long-term data, are important to maintaining water quality not only today, but into the future," added David Garrison, chair of NSF's LTER Working Group.
Carpenter agreed. "Without long-term data, this research would never have happened."
The next steps, he said, need to include new strategies for managing nutrient runoff.
Farmers and conservation groups now use several strategies to try to slow water down and capture some of the sediment and fertilizer it carries as it runs off a field.
"But we're not going to solve the problem with buffer strips or contour plowing or winter cover crops," said Carpenter. Although those practices all help, he said, "eventually a really big storm will overwhelm them."
The best available option for protecting water quality is to keep excess phosphorus off the landscape, Carpenter said.
"A rainstorm can't wash fertilizer or manure downstream if it isn't there."
Carpenter noted that while there are countless acres in the Midwest that are oversaturated with phosphorus, there are also places that aren't. And that, he said, "is an encouraging sign. Some farmers are having success in decreasing their soil phosphorus, and we could learn from them."
“This analysis clearly shows that extreme rainfall is responsible for a large amount of the phosphorus that flows into inland waters,” added John Schade, an NSF LTER program director. “Now, we need to develop nutrient management strategies to meet the challenge. Without long-term data like those presented here, the impact of these events would be difficult to assess."
Manure application in winter should not ever be part of a manure management plan. Rather, it should be part of a contingency plan, because we all know that weather happens. Frequent rain and a late corn harvest are taxing manure storage capacities on many farms. Contingency plans are essential for manure that must be applied in less than ideal conditions. A forage or wheat field can be an ideal site for contingency plan manure application, because compaction should not be an issue, and the soil cover would help prevent nutrient runoff and erosion. Forage or wheat fields are ideal for those reasons. However, winterkill becomes a much greater risk, especially with application of liquid manure. Why? Beside the common risks – which include compaction from wheel traffic and crown damage – manure contains salts!
Salinization, the concentration of salt in the root zone, is not an issue in Ontario. Ample precipitation and drainage leaches the salts through the soil profile. However, when the soil is frozen, infiltration can’t occur. Salts in manure can then turn deadly. High sodium also has a negative effect on soil structure; making the soil more susceptible to crusting, and further decreasing the capacity for infiltration.
Livestock manure contains many salts, including ammonium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. When accrued, they can be significant. Salt content varies from farm to farm based on livestock species, diet formulation and even the salt in the drinking water. Many manure analyses report “Total Salts” or electrical conductivity (EC) to reflect the accumulated salts. A typical hog manure (as applied basis) can have about 20 mS/cm (milliSemens/cm) or about 125 lbs of total salts per 1,000 gallons. Dairy manure average is 14 mS/cm or about 90 lbs/1000 gallons. Sodium and magnesium chloride have a working temperatures to about -15° C; potassium chloride to -4° C, while calcium chloride can work to about -23° C.
When manure is applied on frozen or snow-covered soils, the salts melt the snow and ice at the soil surface. The layer below may still be frozen, preventing infiltration. The melted, saturated layer is high in salts, toxic to roots, and more prone to erosion and runoff, and more susceptible to frost heaving. All these risks are increased where manure with high EC or total salt contents has been applied.
When contingency plan applications become necessary during the winter season, options include:
- Late summer application to forage crops after the final cut or at the beginning of the critical harvest period,
- Temporary storage at a neighbouring storage that has extra capacity,
- Application to forage fields or cover crops that will be tilled or killed,
- Application to the most level harvested fields, preferably with residue still present, furthest away from surface water, where application does not occur through water runs or “flow paths.”
Sampling manure at the time of application should be standard practice. A manure analysis that includes total salts will help to determine the level of risk if contingency application in winter is a last resort.
The Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge is an international competition to find a significant, scalable solution to reduce nitrogen runoff from farming, a primary culprit behind vast algae blooms that cause massive annual “dead zones” in waters throughout the world.
Adapt-N competed against three others challenge finalists, Cropsmith of Farmer City, Illinois; Pivot Bio of Berkeley, California and Stable'N of Carmi, Illinois. Teams tested their innovations during a growing season on a farm in northeast Louisiana along the Mississippi River.
A 16-member advisory board of academics, scientists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, farmers and national experts selected the winner based on crop yield, nitrogen reduction and the cost and market viability of their innovation.
Adapt-N gives farmers precise nitrogen recommendations for every section of their fields. The tool relies on U.S. Department of Agriculture soil databases, field-specific soil and management information and high-resolution weather data.
“The user enters some basic information on management practices like the date of planting, the type of corn hybrid that they are using and some information on the soil like the organic matter content,” said Adapt-N team leader Harold van Es. “We combine that with other data, notably weather data, like precipitation, solar radiation and temperature, and then we dynamically simulate the nitrogen environment in the field — in the soil and in the crop.”
The system is designed to enable farmers to reduce the overall nitrogen rate while increasing profitability.
“We can roughly reduce the environmental impact by about a third — 35 to 40 percent — and that’s both the impacts from nitrate leaching, which is the primary concern with the Gulf hypoxia issue, as well as greenhouse gas losses, which is also a big concern,” van Es said.
Tulane launched the grand challenge in 2014 to identify and nurture the most innovative and adaptable technologies to fight hypoxia. Seventy-seven teams from 10 countries entered the contest. Phyllis Taylor, president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation and a member of the board of Tulane, funded the effort.
“Mrs. Taylor’s vision of the Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge highlights the opportunities with technological innovations. But we should see this event in a much bigger context, in my view, as a start-off point for governments, the scientific community, the fertilizer industry and farmers to raise the bar on nutrient management,” van Es said. “That will end up helping solve the hypoxia problem. It is time. And I hope that they will fully embrace these types of innovations and help farmers overcome the adoption barriers.”
Tulane President Mike Fitts thanked Taylor for her leadership in spearheading the challenge and inspiring innovators to come together to focus on a major environmental issue like hypoxia.
“This competition, this process, has set in motion some of the great minds around the world thinking about an important problem,” Fitts said. “That is what Tulane University is about. And this is such an inspired way for us to participate in solving world problems."
Wisconsin Sea Grant is providing backing for an evaluation effort of the Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast (RRAF) through the Environmental Resources Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and University of Wisconsin-Extension and thanks to funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative that was awarded to the National Weather Service. READ MORE
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