Manure Management
With farms, woods, wildlife and fresh air, rural residents cherish the charm and beauty of the countryside. Many people move from cities seeking peace and a pristine environment in the country.

Most people understand that a rural community includes farmers and that farming is a business. Ontario's agriculture and food sector employs 760,000 people and contributes more than $35 billion to the province's economy every year.

This means that certain activities take place according to a production schedule; and some affect residents living close to farms. In almost all cases, farmers and their rural neighbours get along well together. However, there are some exceptions.

For the year of 2015- 2016 the ministry received 107 complaints related to farm practices. Of these, 45 (40 percent) were about odour, while the others were mainly about noise (26 percent), flies (19 percent) and municipal by-laws (nine percent).

Odour complaints are generally related to:
  • Farmers spreading manure on fields
  • Fans ventilating livestock barns
  • Manure piles
  • Mushroom farms
To manage conflict about farm practices, the Ontario government enacted the Farming and Food Production Protection Act (FFPPA). This act establishes the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (NFPPB) to determine "normal farm practices".

When a person complains about odour or other nuisance from a particular farming practice, the board has the authority to hear the case and decide whether the practice is a "normal farm practice". If it is, the farmer is protected from any legal action regarding that practice.

When people make complaints about farm practices, a regional agricultural engineer or environmental specialist from OMAFRA's Environmental Management Branch works with all parties involved to resolve the conflict. The board requires that any complaint go through this conflict resolution process before it comes to a hearing.

Each year, through the conflict resolution process, OMAFRA staff have resolved the vast majority of complaints. In 2015-16, only twelve of the 107 cases resulted in hearings before the board. Of these, only two were odour cases involving multiple nuisances such as noise, dust and flies. Thus, while odours remain the biggest cause of complaints about farm practices, OMAFRA staff working through the conflict resolution process has proved very effective in dealing with them.
Published in Regional
Ames, IA ― As June approaches, some northern areas of Iowa have experienced delays in corn planting due to a cold spring that turned wet. Producers considering changes to crop rotation should pay attention to the impact it has on manure management plans.

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.
Published in State
Each year, farmers in the U.S. purchase tens of millions of pounds of antibiotics that are approved for use in cows, pigs, fowl and other livestock.

When farmers repurpose the animals' manure as fertilizer or bedding, traces of the medicines leach into the environment, raising concerns that agriculture may be contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

New research holds troublesome insights with regard to the scope of this problem.

According to a pair of new studies led by Diana Aga, PhD, Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, two of the most elite waste treatment systems available today on farms do not fully remove antibiotics from manure.

Both technologies — advanced anaerobic digestion and reverse osmosis filtration — leave behind concerning levels of antibiotic residues, which can include both the drugs themselves and molecules that the drugs break down into.

In addition, the study uncovered new findings about solid excrement, which is often filtered out from raw, wet manure before the treatment technologies are implemented.

Researchers found that this solid matter may contain higher concentrations of antibiotics than unprocessed manure, a discovery that is particularly disturbing because this material is often released into the environment when it's used as animal bedding or sold as fertilizer.

"We were hoping that these advanced treatment technologies could remove antibiotics. As it turns out, they were not as effective as we thought they could be," Aga says.

She does offer some hope, however: "On the positive side, I think that a multistep process that also includes composting at the end of the system could significantly reduce the levels of antibiotics. Our earlier studies on poultry litter demonstrated that up to 70 percent reduction in antibiotics called ionophores can be achieved after 150 days of composting. Testing this hypothesis on dairy farm manure is the next phase of our project, and we are seeing some positive results."

The research on reverse osmosis filtration was published online in January in the journal Chemosphere. The study on advanced anaerobic digestion — a collaboration between UB and Virginia Tech — appeared online in March in the journal Environmental Pollution.

Waste treatment systems are not designed to remove antibiotics

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 30 million pounds of antibiotics approved for use in food-producing livestock were sold or distributed in the United States in 2016. And these are just a fraction of the total antibiotics used annually around the world in humans and animals.

Though the new research focuses on dairy farms, the findings point to a larger problem.

"Neither of the treatment systems we studied was designed to remove antibiotics from waste as the primary goal," Aga says. "Advanced anaerobic digestion is used to reduce odors and produce biogas, and reverse osmosis is used to recycle water. They were not meant to address removal of antibiotic compounds.

"This problem is not limited to agriculture: Waste treatment systems today, including those designed to handle municipal wastewater, hospital wastes and even waste from antibiotic manufacturing industries, do not have treatment of antibiotics in mind. This is an extremely important global issue because the rise of antibiotic resistance in the environment is unprecedented. We need to start thinking about this if we want to prevent the continued spread of resistance in the environment."

Aga is a proponent of the "One Health" approach to fighting antimicrobial resistance, which encourages experts working in hospitals, agriculture and other sectors related to both human and animal health to work together, as humans and animals are often treated with the same or similar antibiotics.

Aga was an invited presenter at an international forum last week on the latest research about antimicrobial resistance. The event, in Vancouver, Canada, was co-chaired by representatives of the UK Science and Innovation Network, Wellcome Trust and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To conduct the research, scientists visited two dairy farms in Upstate New York.

Both facilities extract much of the solid matter from cow manure before subjecting the remaining sludge to high-tech waste management techniques. To process the remaining goop, one farm uses advanced anaerobic digestion, which employs microorganisms and pasteurization to break down and convert organic matter into products that include biogas, while the other farm uses reverse osmosis, which passes the slurry through a series of membranes to purify water.

Both technologies reduced antibiotic residues in liquid manure, but did little to cut down levels in the remaining solid matter. This is particularly worrisome as the research also revealed that antibiotic compounds tend to migrate from the liquid parts of the manure into the solids during treatment, making it arguably more important to treat than the latter.

The concern over solid excrement is heightened by the fact that the treatment techniques are implemented only after most solids are already separated from the raw manure, meaning that the bulk of the solid matter may go untreated.

Some key findings from each study:

The research on advanced anaerobic digestion examined a popular class of antibiotics called tetracyclines, finding that these drugs and their breakdown products migrated from the fluid part of the sludge into the solid part during treatment. At the end of the process, the solids contained higher levels of tetracycline antibiotics than the original raw manure. The study also found that both the liquid and solid parts of the sludge contained genes that confer resistance to these antibiotics.

The study on reverse osmosis looked at how well this water purification technique removed synthetic antimicrobials called ionophores, which are used to promote growth in dairy cows and to treat coccidiosis, a costly, parasitic disease in the cattle industry that affects mostly young calves.

The research found that reverse osmosis effectively filtered ionophores from the liquid portion of manure. However, low levels of the drugs persisted in "purified" water after treatment due to the deterioration of membranes used in the filtration process. Also, solid matter extracted from the water during reverse osmosis still harbored high levels of ionophores. Finally, the study found that prior to treatment, many of the ionophores appear to have already migrated into the solid part of the raw manure that is removed before the reverse osmosis even begins.

"Both of the systems we studied are a good first step in reducing the spread of antibiotics and potentially reduce resistance in the environment, but our study shows that more must be done," Aga says. "We need to look at different waste management practices that, maybe in combination, could reduce the spread of antibiotic compounds and resistance in the environment."

Aga points to composting as one area to explore. Her team is studying how advanced anaerobic digestion can be used in conjunction with composting of solid materials to remove antibiotics and their breakdown products from manure. The preliminary results of the research, not yet published, are promising, Aga says.
Published in News
You might wonder what dry weather and feedlot runoff would have in common. On the one hand, a spell of dry weather can cause expanding areas of moderate drought and dry soils. But dry conditions also make for an excellent time to maintain your feedlot runoff control system.
Published in Beef
There is a great misconception within the global marketplace about the durability, service life cost and capacity capability of bolted steel tanks when compared to both sectional and pre-cast concrete tanks for applications within the water, wastewater, and anaerobic digestion market sectors.

When correctly specified and produced, concrete can be an excellent construction material providing long service in many conditions, however, the quality and durability of a concrete tank is dependent on many factors that are often difficult to control.

Consider the following:
Pre-stressed concrete tanks:
  • Bioenergy plants provide a severe environment for concrete. As these tanks enter the first, second and third decade of service, the effects of years of unprotected exposure are apparent with cracks, spalls, and leaks.
  • The introduction of reinforcing steel created a problem affecting the durability of concrete. As rebar corrodes, concrete cracks and spalls reducing structural integrity AND allowing elements to enter into the concrete increasing the deterioration. Additionally, rust forming on rebar increases the volume (result = expansion) of the steel creating large tensile forces. Concrete cannot withstand tensile stress and it cracks to relieve the pressures.
For more, CLICK HERE
Published in Storage
The cattle housing period, on most farms, has been prolonged due to inclement weather. Poor grass growth, coupled with saturated land, has prevented the turnout of cattle to grass. As a result, many farmers will have built up a large supply of farmyard manure (FYM).

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
Published in Beef
One of the big challenges when using manure as a fertilizer source is knowing the amount of plant nutrients that are present and available in the manure.

This uncertainty increases the risk of over-applying or under-applying nutrients to the field.

The risk is greatest with nitrogen (N), which can easily move out of manure during storage and is a source of drinking water concerns. However, there are ways that producers can lower that risk. One of those ways is by getting manure tested.

Studies from Minnesota and elsewhere have shown how important it is to get manure tested rather than relying on published book nutrient values, says Gregory Klinger, Extension educator for the University of Minnesota.

Book values suggest a specific nitrogen credit for specific manure types. They are useful for planning where to spread your manure, but can lead to over- or under-application of nutrients if used as the basis for actual application rates.

Manure nitrogen content is highly variable. Consider the case of liquid dairy manure, which has book values of 31 or 32 lbs N/1,000 gallons in Minnesota. Different studies on lab-tested dairy manure have found that individual manure N contents are typically anywhere from 20 to 40 percent higher or lower than these book values.

With a book value of 32 lbs N/1,000 gallons, the nitrogen in your dairy manure could be anywhere from 19.2 to 44.8 lbs/1,000 gallons. That creates quite a risk of over- or under-applying nitrogen.

Agitating and testing manure reduces that variability. While there is still variability in the results you get when you test manure, it is lower than relying on book values. Studies suggest 10 to 30 percent for unmixed manure, but as low as three to seven percent for well-mixed or agitated manure.

That means if you have 24 lbs N/1,000 gallons in your manure and it has been agitated and analyzed, you could reasonably expect the measured results to be from 22.3 to 25.7 lbs/1,000 gallons.

Much better than the 19.2 to 44.8 lbs/1000 gallons range you could expect without testing. While dairy manure is the example used here, these trends are true of other manure sources as well. Just by mixing and analyzing your manure, the risk of over- or under-applying nitrogen goes down immensely.

If you can't agitate your manure, try to take a number of subsamples from across the manure stockpile and mix them. Studies show that 15 to 25 subsamples will get the variation below 10 percent. For manure with an actual nitrogen concentration of 24 lbs N/ton, this would mean the N content reported by the lab would likely be 21.6 to 26.4 lbs/ton.

Many soil scientists in the Midwest have noted that when nitrogen application rates are less than 25 pounds above or below the best rate for a field, it usually has a negligible effect on yields and profitability, regardless of form.

That means that you don't need to hit a magical number that is best for your field, you just want to get within 25 pounds of that number. Testing manure will minimize how much uncertainty there is in manure N concentrations and help you hit that goal.
Published in News
Montevideo, M.N. — A hearing on a permit to build an underground pipeline to carry millions of gallons of liquid manure drew a small crowd to the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners meeting recently in Montevideo.

Ten landowners joined David Yost, representing Louriston Dairy, to show support for the dairy's plans to bury a pipeline to carry liquid manure.

The Chippewa County Board unanimously approved a utility permit for the project, and made note of the support for it by affected landowners near the dairy. | READ MORE
Published in News
Intensive animal farms in America currently store manure sludge in large waste lagoons, and what Jordan Phasey is working on, is essentially a new approach to drying out manure.

Constructed wetland technology, uses sand, plants, and a network of pipes, to drain the moisture out of the sludge and dries the remaining solids into a concentrated and far more valuable fertiliser. | READ MORE
Published in News
Many Beef cow-calf producers feed hay rations to cows in confinement settings during the winter months. Feeding hay on fields away from the barn is gaining popularity.

Labor and machinery requirements of hauling manure can be minimized by winter-feeding beef cattle on fields. Care should be taken with feeding practices to ensure that crop nutrients are evenly distributed.

Feeding on fields is typically accomplished by strategically spacing hay bales around the field either with or without hay rings frequently referred to as bale grazing. Another feeding method on fields includes unrolling bales on the ground. Unrolling bales on the ground typically allows for better crop nutrient distribution.

Spacing bales across a field creates a situation of concentrated nutrients from manure and waste hay in the areas where bales are fed. Over time, nutrient distribution can equalize with good grazing and management practices to promote soil health. Nutrients can be distributed by livestock and soil microbes over time, however, uniform nutrient spreading is more ideal for crop production yields.

Utilizing the various feeding methods can result in a wide range of hay waste. Producers need to weigh cost savings associated with winter feeding on fields and feed loss with any given feeding method.

Feeding on fields allows nearly 100 percent nutrient cycling into the soil for both phosphorous and potassium while nitrogen capture will be variable. Consequently, hay waste is not a 100 percent loss.

Much of the crop nutrients from hay waste is available to the next growing crop. If hay is harvested on the farm, nutrients are simply redistributed to the feeding area. If hay is purchased, those nutrients are added into the farm nutrient pool.

Purchasing hay and bringing nutrients onto the farm can be a cost-effective addition of fertilizer to the farm. The vast majority of fertilizer costs for crop production are for application of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Producers should use a feed analysis of purchased feed to determine its fertilizer value. Producers can use dry matter, crude protein, phosphorous and potassium content to determine fertilizer value.

Dry feeds will usually contain 10 to 15 percent moisture or 85 to 90 percent dry matter. A 1,000 lb. bale of dry hay with 15 percent moisture will contain 850 lb. of dry matter. Ensiled feeds will contain considerably more moisture.

Protein contains 16 percent nitrogen. Crude protein is calculated by multiplying the percent nitrogen by a conversion multiplier of 6.25. From the example hay analysis, 10.6 percent crude protein can be multiplied by 0.16 or divided by 6.25 to equal a rounded off 1.7 percent nitrogen.

The nitrogen content multiplied by the dry hay bale weight of 850 lb. equals 14.45 lb. of nitrogen in the bale of hay. The percent phosphorous (0.18 percent) and potassium (1.6 percent) are also multiplied by the 850 lb. of dry matter hay to equal 1.53 lb. of phosphorous and 13.6 lb. of potassium.

Producers must be aware of the differences between feed analysis and fertilizer analysis. Feed analysis are recorded as percent crude protein, elemental phosphorous, and elemental potassium.

Fertilizer analysis is recorded as percent elemental nitrogen, phosphate (P2O5), and potash (K2O). Using Upper Peninsula of Michigan fertilizer prices, nitrogen is valued at $0.47/lb. N, phosphate at $0.35/lb. of P2O5, and potash at $0.325/lb. K2O.

The calculated fertilizer value of the 1,000 lb. bale of hay is worth $7.07/bale or $14.14/ton. Current value of this quality of hay is roughly $80-100 per ton. In this example, about 15 percent of the value of average beef quality hay can be attributed to its fertilizer value. Farms that are marginal on soil nutrient levels may consider purchasing at least a portion of their feed to increase crop nutrients on the farm and replace some portion of purchased commercial fertilizer.

Feeding hay on fields during the winter months has several advantages that beef producers can use to offset some of the production costs associated with beef production.

For more information regarding the impact of feeding hay on pasture and hay fields, contact MSU Extension Educators Frank Wardynski, 906-884-4386 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or Jim Isleib, 906-387-2530 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu.
Published in Beef
Marshfield, WI - At the Healthy Soil, Healthy Water Conference, held in late-March, Doug Szemborski with Bazooka Farmstar said manure injection could be the best way to use the manure on the farm in a way that makes the neighbors happy while allowing farmers to get the most nutrient value from it.

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
Published in Manure Application
A recent report by Island County Public Health showed that surface water in the area tested high in fecal coliform, but the National Park Service worked with the Whidbey Island Conservation District to try and solve the problem.

Source identification testing traced much of the water contamination to agricultural operations being performed on land owned by the National Park Service.

A farmer operating under a permit from the National Park Service has a concentrated animal feedlot on the park service's land. According to a report on the operation, "years of system neglect and poor maintenance practices by the farms" and "benign neglect by NPS officials" led to a partial failure of the farm's existing manure containment system. | For the full story, CLICK HERE.
Published in News
The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the 2018 Alternative Manure Management Program (AMMP).

The AMMP is one of two programs designed by CDFA to reduce dairy and livestock greenhouse gas emissions. The program will provide $19 to 33 million in grants to California dairy and livestock operators to implement non-digester manure management practices that reduce methane emissions.

Applicants must access the 2018 Request for Grant Applications at www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/ammp/ for detailed program requirements and application instructions.

CDFA has partnered with the State Water Resources Control Board to utilize its online application site, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST). All prospective applicants must register for a FAAST account at https://faast.waterboards.ca.gov to apply. Applications and all supporting information must be submitted electronically using FAAST by Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. PDT.

All prospective applicants should access the AMMP webpage for information regarding additional, free-of-charge technical assistance conducted by non-profit organizations, Resource Conservation Districts and California academic institutions to assist in the submission of AMMP applications.

Prospective applicants may contact CDFA's Grants Office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  with general program questions.
Published in News
Reading, Pennsylvania - All communities depend on clean water and that supply of clean water depends on the actions of members in the community and outside of it.

The small city of Kutztown lies within the Saucony Creek watershed in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The watershed is mostly agricultural, dotted with small family crop and livestock farms, and the activities on these farms affect water supplies near and far.

Saucony Creek itself feeds into Lake Ontelaunee, the water supply for Reading, Pennsylvania. Kutztown gets its water from wells that, because of the soils and geology of the area, are strongly affected by activities on the surrounding landscape.

In the early 2000s, the nitrates in Kutztown's water supply were approaching the maximum safe levels for drinking water. The nitrates were related in large part to farms in the area.

This situation energized a partnership of non-profit organizations, government agencies, and private entities to ensure the safety of the city's water supply, in part by helping local farmers install conservation practices that protect and improve water quality. As part of this effort, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) delivered additional funding for voluntary conservation assistance through its National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). 

NRCS Collaborates with Conservation-Minded Farmers
For years, dairy farmer Daniel Weaver faced challenges that made his life harder and affected water quality in his area. He hauled manure every day because he had nowhere to store it. And, his cows watered and roamed in a branch to Saucony Creek that runs through his property. This reduced the health of the stream and of his herd. That is before he formed a relationship with NRCS staff at his local USDA Service Center.

With NRCS's help, Weaver was able to implement conservation practices that improve the operations of his farm in a way that also protects the ground and surface water flowing through his property. First, NRCS helped him develop a nutrient management plan for his property. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding, commonly known as EQIP, enabled him to install a manure storage tank that alleviates the need to haul manure daily. The new storage capacity allows him to control the rate and timing of manure application on his farm, which are key factors in achieving healthy soil and clean water. He also says that it has helped him save on labor and fertilizer.

"I think it should be mandatory for farmers to have a manure pit," he said.

Streambank fencing and an animal crossing were installed to keep cows from contaminating streams and creeks that crossed their pastures and therefore the downstream rivers and lakes. In the five years since installation, vegetation has grown on the stream banks, creating a buffer for the stream and the crossing controls the cows' access, thereby limiting pathogens and nutrients from entering the water.

Not too far away, Harlan Burkholder owns and operates a 100-acre row crop and beef cattle farm. He also worked with NRCS and other partners to improve water quality in Saucony Creek. When Burkholder bought his farm in 2005, manure was being stored on the ground near the creek that runs through the property because there was limited space near the barn. He had to spread manure on the fields often to keep it from piling up.

Realizing that it's best to spread manure in the growing season and store it in the winter to avoid runoff, he developed a nutrient management plan. After applying for NRCS financial assistance, he worked with NRCS to co-invest in a manure storage structure. Now, Burkholder is able to store manure over the winter so he can spread it at optimal times.

He is grateful for NRCS's help. "As a beginner, there's no way I could have spent money on something like this," he said.

Burkholder also knows the importance of keeping soil healthy with no-till and cover crops. As a 100-pecent no-till farmer, Burkholder says, "I have no intentions of doing anything else. It's working."

It's working so well that he's sharing his knowledge and experiences with other farmers.

Results
Together, NRCS and its partners have helped more than 20 farmers in the watershed get conservation on the ground. In fact, NRCS has invested more than $2 million in targeted assistance in this area alone.

"The voluntary efforts of these farmers that protect the water in Saucony Creek also has a positive impact on the groundwater in aquifers beneath it," said Martin Lowenfish, the team lead for NRCS's landscape conservation initiatives. "Kutztown is home to 14,000 residents who rely on drinking water from those aquifers."

And, the residents of Kutztown are taking notice. Just two years after the city's water treatment plant was updated with equipment to remove nitrates from the raw water, the plant is running at minimum capacity because the nitrate levels have been reduced by almost half thanks to the conservation efforts of farmers and ranchers upstream. Now, the treatment plant's water is within legal safe drinking water requirements and treatment costs also have been significantly reduced.

This is just one impact among many that show how a little conservation can yield big results for communities downstream.


Published in Profiles
A soil Scientists with the University of Saskatchewan says the broad range of nutrients contained in livestock manure require a higher level of management but it will also heighten crop response.

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.
Published in Beef
I Have Manure. I Want Manure. Those are the two prominent buttons on the front page of the website for Manure Link, a program created by Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) in Langley, BC.
Published in Other
Annapolis, MD – With the spring planting season drawing near, the Maryland Department of Agriculture has launched its 2018 "Manure Happens" public education campaign to help citizens understand how and why farmers recycle manure as a natural crop fertilizer and soil conditioner.

The 2018 campaign includes information on how farmers using different types of farming practices apply manure to their fields, along with the with the steps they must take to protect water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. The ads will run in local newspapers, websites, and social media throughout the month of March.

"Today's consumers want to know everything about how their food is produced, including the environmental impacts of production practices," said Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder. "The 'Manure Happens' campaign aims to address any concerns the public may have regarding the use of manure as a fertilizer. In upcoming weeks, you will start see—and smell—farmers spreading manure on their fields when conditions are right for spring planting. Please be considerate, and remember to share the road with our farmers when driving in farm country."

Farmers using conventional farming techniques till manure into the soil. This improves nutrient retention and reduces odors for nearby neighbors. Farmers who have switched to no-till farming practices to reduce erosion and re-build their soil's health, grow their crops without disturbing the soil. These farmers apply manure to the surface of the soil and are required to install additional protections like 35-foot buffers to protect local streams from runoff.

Maryland's Nutrient Management Regulations prohibit farmers from spreading manure on their fields in winter or when the ground is frozen.

March 1 is the first opportunity for farmers to recycle manure generated over the winter as a crop fertilizer. To further protect water resources, Maryland farmers are required to incorporate manure into the soil within 48 hours if they are not using no-till farming practices.

The department provides grants to farmers who want to try the latest liquid manure "injection" equipment. Injecting manure into the soil is more expensive than broadcasting manure, but has shown to be compatible with no-till cropping systems. In addition, Maryland's Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations are being phased in over the next several years to help farmers who use manure as a crop fertilizer protect waterways from phosphorus runoff.

The public education ads direct visitors to the department's "Manure Happens" website at: mda.maryland.gov/manure.

In addition to providing citizens with information on how farmers recycle manure resources, the website offers resources for farmers who currently use commercial fertilizers and are considering making the switch to manure and farmers who sell manure resources as part of their farm's business model.

The page provides links to additional resources available for farmers, including grants to transport poultry litter and manure, tax credits, technical guidance and scientific research on the benefits of manure as a crop fertilizer and soil amendment. In addition, the website includes links to Maryland's nutrient management regulations and spotlights farmers who use manure as a valuable resource.

The department's 2018 educational advertising campaign includes three ads with different themes. The Odoriferous ad focuses on ways farmers work to reduce odors while spreading manure.

The Style Squad ad discusses the various ways farmers work to keep manure away from waterways. In addition, the campaign's namesake ad, Manure Happens has been updated with new imagery. 
Published in Associations
A U.S. Senate committee took testimony on a bill that supporters say offers a bipartisan compromise on reporting manure emissions.

The legislation would exempt farms from a law spawned by careless handling of industrial waste in the 1970s. The bill, however, leaves open the possibility that producers will someday have to report the volume of gases released by livestock under a different law inspired by the 1984 chemical leak in Bopal, India, that killed up to 20,000 people. | READ MORE
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
The same products that get rid of internal parasites in livestock may adversely impact the dung beetles that help break down dung, according to South Dakota State University assistant professor Lora Perkins of the Department of Natural Resource Management. That could be bad news for the dung beetles and livestock production.

Through a four-year U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Perkins and three colleagues will examine how producers' use of products to control parasites, known as parasiticides, has changed and how that has impacted the dung beetle population, soil quality and forage production. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture funding is part of the Bioenergy, Natural Resources and Environment Program, which focuses on the environmental sustainability of rangeland livestock production.

"Dung beetles are little drivers of ecosystem function," Perkins said. "They turn a big pile of dung into nutrients in the soil that can be taken up again by plants." Previous SDSU research looked at the biodiversity of dung beetles and other insects that populate dung pats. "We're adding onto that research and moving it all the way through to forage production," she explained.

Perkins, assistant professor. A. Joshua Leffler and professor Paul J. Johnson, an entomologist, will examine areas at the Ft. Pierre National Grasslands which are used by different livestock producers. Some producers use parasiticides to control parasites; others don't. "By conducting our research at Ft. Pierre, we are able to study areas that are adjacent to one another so the environmental variation among study areas is minimal," Perkins explained.

The researchers will measure the dung beetle population and examine how rapidly the dung is incorporated into the soil. They will measure nitrogen in the soil and plant production by weighing the biomass.

"Nitrogen availability is a key factor limiting forage production, and dung beetles are key organism in making nitrogen available to plants," Leffler explained. One doctoral student will also work on this portion of the project, with fieldwork beginning this summer.

However, what makes this project unique is collaboration with assistant sociology professor Jessica Ulrich-Schad. She will survey approximately 2,500 livestock producers to see whether they use parasiticides to control parasites in their livestock or not, whether that has changed over time and why. She will also ask how the parasiticides they are using have changed and what led to those changes. "Jessica is a critical member of our team. She helps us bridge the gap between the technical analyses and landowners and managers" said Perkins.

"We want to understand the drivers behind the use of these products," said Ulrich-Schad, who began exploring producer decision-making as a postdoctoral researcher at Purdue University. "We must get a better grasp of how farmers are making these decisions to know how we can encourage them to voluntarily use practices that are good for soil and water quality."

Through the survey, she will examine producers' awareness of how these parasiticides can impact dung beetle population, soil quality and forage production, as well as the roles that social networks play in the practices they use and the awareness they have. One doctoral student will work with Ulrich-Schad. Preliminary interviews with seven producers she characterized as innovators revealed that some are noticing a decrease in the dung beetle populations.

"When dung piles accumulate, fields become 'fouled'—livestock won't eat by the pile," Perkins explained. "We need the beetles to help break down the dung and keep the nutrients flowing and the plants growing." Research at other universities also shows that the presence of dung beetles can reduce the survival of parasite larvae in the dung pats.
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