Livestock Production
Custom nutrient management contractor, Pierce Litter, understands that not all poultry litter is the same. The moisture content and nutrient content can vary widely depending on whether the poultry producer is raising boilers, hens, pullets, hens for table eggs, or turkeys.
Published in Poultry
Canada's hog sector, which includes over 8,000 hog farms, is a key driver of the Canadian economy, accounting for $4.5 billion in farm receipts and $4 billion in pork exports in 2017.
Published in News
Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) recently presented the Radau family and Coulee Crest Farms with the 2019 Environmental Stewardship Award at the ABP Annual General Meeting.
Published in News
The Smotherman family began farming in 2002 as admitted rookies to agriculture and raising turkeys. But 16 years later Texas-based Ken and Dana Smotherman, may now be considered industry veterans who are having hall of fame careers, according to their peers.
Published in Poultry
A much-debated farm pollution regulation is set to take wider effect soon in Maryland, stirring growing anxiety among farmers and environmentalists alike. Those concerns could put the rule on hold next year.

The state's Phosphorus Management Tool rule, adopted in 2015, aims to reduce the risk of polluted farm runoff by limiting how much manure farmers can use to fertilize certain fields.

Only about 100 farms have been affected so far, as the restrictions are being slowly phased in through 2022. But the number of farms that must comply with the rule is set to jump significantly in 2019. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in State
At a time when hog producers expected to profit from their labours, a rising supply of American pork and tariffs on U.S. pork exports saw Canadian hog prices drop as much as $55 per animal in June. The Canadian Pork Council estimates the sudden decline resulted in losses of $125 million for the Canadian hog industry between June and September.
Published in Swine
This fall has been exceptionally wet and that has led to saturated soil conditions around much of Iowa, and while this has made the primary focus on manure delayed harvest of corn and soybeans and thus limited area for manure application.
Published in Manure Application
Smithfield Foods, Inc., is pleased to announce, through the nationwide expansion of Smithfield Renewables, innovative projects designed to help meet its goal to reduce the company's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25 percent by 2025, which it set in concert with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). This month marks the one-year anniversary of Smithfield Renewables.
Published in Companies
This spring started cool and wet, delaying planting season, but was followed by a beautiful early summer with warm temperatures and heat units that pushed crops forward quickly. As harvest season has neared, we have been faced with some wet conditions slowing harvest.
Published in Manure Application
Gypsum recycled from manufacturing and construction waste has gained popularity as a bedding source for the dairy industry. Its proponents cite affordability, increased moisture absorption, low bacteria growth and soil benefits as reasons for its use.
Published in Manure Handling
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the National Weather Service has designed a new tool for those applying manure in Minnesota called the Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast.
Published in Manure Application
Washington, DC – As North Carolina communities grapple with the fallout from flooding during Hurricane Florence, community groups and an allied national coalition filed a legal complaint in federal court Sept. 28, challenging a Trump administration policy that exempts animal feeding operations from having to report emissions under a federal emergency planning and right-to-know law.

“The full extent of the damage to our communities is still unknown. But one thing’s clear – we need better protections for communities neighboring these operations,” said Devon Hall, executive director of the Duplin County, NC-based Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH). Duplin County, a hub of industrial pig operations, was among the hardest hit by Hurricane Florence. “Eliminating this exemption is a simple way to help make sure my neighbors and I are better protected.”

At the heart of the matter are two environmental laws – the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Both require reporting of releases of hazardous substances that meet or exceed reportable quantities within a 24-hour period in order for federal, state, and local officials to evaluate the need for an emergency response to mitigate the effects of a release to the community.

Back in December 2008, the EPA published a final rule that exempted all farms from reporting hazardous substance air releases from animal waste under CERCLA. Only large CAFOs were subject to EPCRA reporting.

Several citizen groups challenged the validity of the final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals and, in April 2017, the court vacated the final rule.

In March 2018, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Omnibus Bill) was signed into law, a section of which – known as the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act (FARM Act) – amended CERCLA to exempt air emissions from animal waste at a farm from reporting under CERCLA.

Accordingly, on August 1, 2018, EPA published a final rule revising the CERCLA reporting regulations to incorporate the FARM Act’s amendments to CERCLA.

Based on the criteria for EPCRA release reporting, the EPA maintains that air emissions from animal waste at farms do not need to be reported under EPCRA.

REACH and Sound Rivers are being represented by the nonprofit environmental law organization Earthjustice and are joined by Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Don’t Waste Arizona, Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch, Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, and Waterkeeper Alliance in the complaint.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.
Published in Federal
In August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Animal Health Monitoring System [NAHMS] released its most recent report, Nutrient Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014.
Published in News
Add just enough fertilizer, and crops thrive. Add too much, and you may end up with contaminated surface and groundwater.

Excess nutrients from farms can be transported to groundwater reservoirs by water starting at the surface and flowing through soil. But the flow of water through soil is a "highly dynamic process," says Genevieve Ali, a researcher at the University of Manitoba. "It can vary from year to year, season to season, or even rainstorm to rainstorm."

It can also fluctuate depending on soil type and even if organic additions, like manure, are applied.

Ali is lead author of a new study that shows water infiltrates deeper into cracking clay (vertisolic soils) when liquid hog manure is applied.

The study also showed that even though water infiltration went deeper in the presence of manure, it did not reach depths of 39 inches (100 cm). That's how deep tile drains–designed to remove excess subsurface water–are typically installed in the study region.

"This observation challenges previous studies, which showed that cracks in clay soils can promote the travel of water and associated contaminants from the soil surface into tile drains," says Ali. "Our study suggests that not all clay-rich soils behave the same."

The researchers focused on vertisols because they are present in large regions of North America. "They are common in agricultural plains, where excess nutrients may be common due to intensive farming," Ali says.

But knowledge gaps remain about soil water flow in vertisols, especially with organic additions.

Water can flow through soil in different ways. 'Matrix flow' occurs when water moves slowly through tiny spaces between soil grains. 'Preferential flow' takes place when water travels relatively quickly through bigger channels, called macropores, such as cracks and earthworm burrows.

"Imagine a bucket of sand with plastic straws inserted throughout," says Ali. "If you dumped water on this sand bucket, the water traveling through the straws would reach the bottom first."

Similarly, preferential water flow through soil macropores can carry contaminants quickly from the surface down to groundwater reservoirs.

Macropores are often connected to one another. "They act like a network of pipes, and they can be created or exacerbated by human activities," says Ali. "Knowing when and where there is preferential flow and how to manage land in those areas is critical to preserving groundwater quality."

Clay-rich soils--such as vertisols–tend to crack, which creates macropores. "That makes these soils natural candidates to study the relative importance of matrix and preferential flow," says Ali.

This study was conducted in research plots in Manitoba, Canada. Researchers added liquid hog manure to one plot but not the other. They sprinkled water mixed with blue dye on both plots to determine how water moved through the soil.

In the plot where manure was applied, water reached up to 25 inches (64 cm) into the soil. In contrast, water reached up to 18 inches (45 cm) in the plot where manure was not applied. Both plots showed evidence of matrix and preferential water flow.

The researchers also found that the water moving through the macropores was not completely separated from the rest of the soil.

"If you think back to the analogy of the sand bucket with the straws in it, the straws have a bunch of small little holes in them," says Ali. "Water can be exchanged laterally between the macropores and the surrounding soil."

Lateral exchange has been reported frequently for smaller macropores in forested soils, says Ali. "But it is less common in agricultural soils where cracks tend to be larger."

This study focused on a single site, so Ali says that further research is needed before generalizations can be made.

Ali is also studying the role of soil cracks in spring (created by the soil freezing and thawing multiple times) versus the role of cracks in summer (created when soils become especially dry).

Read more about this research in Agricultural and Environmental Letters. The research was done under the umbrella of the Watershed Systems Research Program and funded by the Government of Manitoba, as well as a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant awarded to Genevieve Ali.
Published in Research
It’s been almost a week since Hurricane Florence struck North Carolina and some hog farmers are still dealing with challenges left over from the storm.

According to a report from the North Carolina Pork Council [NCPC], some hog farmers and partner production companies are going to extraordinary lengths to care for their animals, including living in the barns for days, traveling by boat to do chores and even being shuttled to farms via helicopter.

Some are also dealing with manure management problems.

“While it’s clear that farmers properly managed lagoon levels in advance of the storm, a small percentage of lagoons have been impacted by the record-setting rainfalls,” the NCPC report stated. “In some cases, lagoon levels are being lowered by transferring liquids off the farm in tanker trucks or by piping to other lagoons with ample storage.”

According to a Sept. 23 report from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, five lagoons in the state suffered structural damage, 32 lagoons overtopped, nine lagoons were inundated [no indication of discharges], 18 lagoons are at full capacity [have no freeboard left] and 39 lagoons have zero to 3-inches of freeboard available.

“While we are dismayed by the release of some liquids from some lagoons, we also understand that what has been released from the farms is the result of a once-in-a-lifetime storm and that the contents are highly diluted with rainwater,” the NCPC stated.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sets preliminary livestock losses at 3.4 million poultry and 5,500 hogs.

“This was an unprecedented storm with flooding expected to exceed that from any other storms in recent memory,” said Steve Troxler, NC Agriculture Commissioner. “We know agricultural losses will be significant because the flooding has affected the top six agricultural counties in the state. The footprint of flooding from this storm covers much the same area hit by flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which only worsens the burden on these farmers.”

The department’s environment programs and division of soil and water conservation is assisting livestock and poultry farmers with recovery to ensure environmental impacts are minimized to the extent possible. The department’s veterinary division is helping to assess risk to livestock operations and depopulation teams are on standby and are assisting producers with disposal concerns.
Published in Swine
The North Carolina Pork Council released the following statement in regards to this recent court verdict -  

The verdict is heartbreaking and could have severe and unforeseen economic consequences for our farmers, the pork industry and all of North Carolina agriculture.

It is heartbreaking because the jury did not hear the full story about Joey Carter's farm – and now an honest, hardworking farmer stands to lose everything. Joey Carter has always followed and exceeded the state's laws, which are the strictest regulations of any state and on any sector of agriculture. He invested in modern technologies. And he responded promptly to any concerns raised by his neighbors, who said his farm is not a nuisance. He should not be punished.

It is heartbreaking because Joey Carter's farm deserved a fair trial. And yet, the jury was prevented from hearing the expert testimony of a renowned scientist who studied the area around the farm and determined it does not produce objectionable odor.

The jury was prevented from visiting the farm in person – a request made by the defendant, Murphy Brown LLC. The jury was prevented from hearing about how these cases arose when out-of-state lawyers canvassed neighborhoods promising big payouts to plaintiffs who sued their neighbors.

We encourage an appeal to the Fourth Circuit, which must review the decisions that directly shaped the outcome of the trial.

This verdict signals that no farmer in North Carolina is safe from financially ruinous lawsuits even if they comply fully with all laws and regulations, as Joey Carter did; even if they use best management practices, as Joey Carter did; and even if they had never received any complaints from their neighbors, as was the case with the Carter farm.

We expect this verdict will force Smithfield Foods to reevaluate its operations in the state. We encourage state, county, local and agricultural leaders to show strong support for a company that has and continues to invest millions in modern technology and research in North Carolina and employs 10,000 people in rural counties.

This case is exactly why farmers like Joey Carter needed clarity and legal protection, and we applaud the bipartisan group of lawmakers who adopted changes this week to provide certainty for agriculture in the 2018 Farm Act.
Published in News
The BlueBox Ultra has been specially developed for the biological treatment of manure and fermentation residues and works the same way as a municipal wastewater treatment plant.

In the bioreactor of the BlueBox Ultra, the manure is converted into water, which contains only traces of nitrogen and phosphorus and is therefore ideally suited for irrigation.

Since nitrogen and phosphorus are almost completely removed, only very small surfaces are required for application. The BlueBox Ultra eliminates the need for expensive and environmentally harmful manure transports, where manure sometimes has to be transported over hundreds of miles.

"I no longer want to have to carry out expensive manure transports," explains farmer Jorn Ahlers, who runs a farm with a biogas plant in Lower Saxony. "I am convinced of the technology and user-friendliness of the BlueBox and I am confident that the system will go into operation on my farm this year."

"In recent months, we have presented our ground-breaking manure solution to many farmers and operators of biogas plants in Germany, especially in the manure hot spots of North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony and Bavaria. The sale of the first manure treatment plant in Germany is of course an important milestone for us," says David Din, CEO of Bluetector. "Our BlueBox enables farmers to convert their manure into water with a low-cost bioreactor without the need for costly and maintenance-intensive equipment such as reverse osmosis or centrifuges."
Published in Biogas
Dirty cows have a negative impact on milk quality, including greater chances of getting mastitis and a high somatic cell count.

Dirty cows usually mean a dirty tail, and dirty tails can come from dirty stalls. Since the ban on tail docking of dairy cattle, managing manure for cow hygiene is as automated as it has ever been.

"Automated alley scraper systems have been successfully used on livestock farms for decades to keep freestalls and cows clean," said Andy Lenkaitis, GEA product manager for manure equipment. "I work with many farmers who produce high-quality milk and have cows with long tails. They make management of their automated alley scraper systems a priority to avoid tail entanglement or animal injury." | READ MORE
Published in Dairy
A federal jury awarded more than $470 million to six neighbors of a hog farm in Pender County who complained of excessive noise, odor, flies, buzzards and other disruptions to their quality of life.

The stunning verdict, reached after just three hours of deliberation, came against pork producer Murphy-Brown, and marked the third time that juries have ruled against the company in a nuisance lawsuit. At $473.5 million, this was the largest of the three.

The first two verdicts were reduced in line with state law capping punitive damages. The cap will lower the amount to $94 million in total damages in this case. | READ MORE
Published in News
Animal mortality is a fact of life, and in livestock production the challenge is dealing with the number of animals over time and their size.

It is becoming more difficult to find outlets for spent animals, and cost must be considered. Mortality composting has gained in popularity over the years, but with that practice comes concerns related to nutrient management. T

here were several papers on animal mortality management presented at the Waste to Worth Conference held in April 2016. Craig Williams, Extension educator in Tioga County, gave two presentations on mortality composting.

He worked with a swine producer wanting to switch from burial to composting. This operation had a three percent mortality rate, or approximately 250 deaths per year in the finishing operation. The producer built a compost barn with a three-foot center dividing wall.

In the first year, approximately 56 cubic yards of wood chips/bark mulch was used. In the second year, this was replaced with 40 cubic yards of sawdust. The compost temperature is reaching 130 degrees, and so far there have been minimal issues in mixing and turning the compost. | For the full story, CLICK HERE


Published in Compost
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