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.
Research being conducted by the University of Manitoba's National Centre for Livestock and the Environment is examining the survivability and infectivity of PEDv in manure and the potential of soils fertilized with infected manure to become a vector for the spread of the disease.
Christine Rawluk, the research coordinator with the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment, says the threat of the spread of this virus has increased substantially.
“When Dr. Ehsan Khafipour began the first project with MLMMI and PAMI in 2014, the incidence of the disease on Manitoba farms was minimal,” she says. “Flash forward a few years and we're seeing quite a different picture. This was the very first comprehensive study of PED survivability and infectivity in earthen manure storages. A subsequent project that recently concluded focused on PED survivability in soils following surface applications of PED positive manure.”
“The initial work showed that not only can PEDv survive our winters, the virus can potentially replicate throughout the winter in earthen manure storages,” Rawluk adds. “Their recently completed field investigations found detectable levels of the virus in soil samples collected three weeks after surface applications. But, in this study, they did not assess the virus infectivity. It was not part of what was undertaken but they see that as a critical first step to understanding the risk posed by soils receiving PED positive manure.”
Rawluk says we still need to understand the potential of the virus to survive in soil and remain infective following land application of infected manure and determine the potential of this soil to become a vector for spreading this disease.
She says planned future PEDv research will examine the survivability and infectivity when infected manure is applied to different soil types under different climate conditions.
In March, after almost two decades in operation, the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative will disband and its activities will be rolled into a more broadly mandated provincial research organization created under the new federal provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
MLMMI Executive Director John Carney says, over the past 20 years, while the focus has remained the same, the priorities have evolved.
“The focus in the beginning and right through to today has been simply manure management in Manitoba,” Carney says. “Our focus has been consistent. From time-to-time, priorities change. For instance, in our early days, a lot of our research went into odor mitigation and management and then, for a period of time, we really focused on nutrient management and phosphorus imbalances, where there's greater nutrients produced by livestock than spread acres.”
“PED came into focus and we've done some work on survivability of the virus in PED,” he adds. “Now that conditions are right for the industry to look at some growth again, the focus is now shifting back to questions like odor management and also the value of nutrients in crop production and the economic value of manure.”
Carney notes, effective April 1, the work of the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative will be amalgamated into a new research program under a single research delivery model.
He says, under the new program, the work the MLMMI has been doing will continue but will be broadened to cover all forms of agriculture related research.
But while Riverhill Farms may seem unchanged by time, Rodes and his family are looking to the future. They have been experimenting with turning manure into energy for several years. Rodes even calls himself a “fuel farmer” in his email address. READ MORE
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
Manure management plans are required in Pennsylvania for anyone who mechanically applies manure or pastures animals. The Bradford County Conservation District will hold an informal “open door” day on Dec. 15 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone needing help getting this document in order.
The Manure Management Manual is a fairly easy and short document that will not only bring you into compliance, possibly save money on your fertilizer bill, and increase yields; but will help cover you in the event of a complaint. Most information can simply be filled out by the animal’s owner. However, you may benefit from the conservation district’s help with maps and more detailed information. This “open door” day will allow anyone to walk in at their convenience and get the help they need without spending any more or less time on it than necessary.
Important to note is that these plans belong to you. There is no requirement to submit a copy of this plan to any government agency. They are for your use and are required only to be kept on file at the farm.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has been inspecting Bradford County farms in recent weeks. Your manure management plan is one of the first things they would ask to see. You want to be ready if they show up at your farm. DEP is responsible for enforcing Pennsylvania’s regulations requiring farms to implement manure management and erosion control plans.
John Carney, executive director of the MLMMI, said work over the past almost 20 years has included odor mitigation, odor measurement and quantification, nutrient management including manure separation and manure nutrients in crops, the feasibility of a manure pipeline to transport manure, pathogens in manure and barn worker health and safety.
“Certainly, there's been quite a bit of work done in odor management,” he said. “We have a model that is very helpful for predicting odor plumes and there's actually some refinements going on with that as we speak.”
“We fully investigated five different technologies for manure separation as part of redistributing nutrients from areas that don't have enough spreadable acres.We looked at alternatives and costs of manure transportation.”
“I think it's important to note too that we don't just consider our success when we find something that works,” Carney added. “When we find that it's not the answer, I think that's just as valuable as when you find something that is what you hoped it would be.”
“Our research has the capabilities of saving a lot of producers the time, money and frustration of implementing technologies or strategies that it turns out don't work in Manitoba conditions.”
According to Carney, under the new program, this research will be broadened to cover all forms agriculture.
He said there continues to be opportunities for Manitoba to produce more livestock so manure research will continue to be an important focus.
A November 2015 inspection by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment revealed two wastewater ponds overflowing into a drainage ditch that flowed into the Big Thompson River. The inspector observed that the leakages from the farm “were likely ongoing for a significant period of time.” READ MORE
Fifteen counties with bedrock consisting of Silurian dolomite and shallow topsoil are targeted: Brown, Calumet, Dodge, Door, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha.
New restrictions would affect the time and place where manure can be added on cropland. Areas with bedrock depth of two feet or less would not be able to have manure – liquid or solid – added. READ MORE
“I have not had direct contact with any pumpers in the last week or two, but I know things are going on, I know things are going slowly and I know things are quite delayed,” said Brad Carlson, University of Minnesota Extension educator, during a mid-November 2017 phone interview. READ MORE
Under modified Nutrient Management Regulations approved earlier this year, farmers statewide are now prohibited from spreading manure between December 16 and March 1.
“The fall spreading date for manure and other organic nutrient sources has been extended through December 15 to reflect warmer weather patterns and reduce the amount of time farmers need to store manure over the winter,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “The extra time allows farmers to empty their storage structures ahead of winter. Ultimately, our goal is to avoid application of nutrients in the winter when fields are at the highest risk for runoff.”
An emergency provision in the modified regulations allows the department to work with farmers to prevent an overflow from liquid manure storage structures during winter, when spreading manure is otherwise prohibited. This exemption is only for on-farm generated liquid manure that the farmer cannot store due to extraordinary circumstances. It does not apply to biosolids or food waste. A 100-foot setback from surface waters is required for any emergency spreading that takes place in winter and farmers are prohibited from applying manure if the ground is frozen or snow covered. Livestock farmers seeking this exemption should contact their regional nutrient management specialist for assistance.
Maryland’s Nutrient Management Regulations allow farmers to apply poultry litter to crops in the fall. Farmers may apply other types of manure in fall for spring crops planted before June 1. Farmers should review their Nutrient Management Plan, talk to their nutrient management consultant, or contact the nutrient management specialist serving their county.
For more information, contact the Nutrient Management Program at 410-841-5959 or visit the program’s website.
The research was conducted because serious discrepancies exist between top-down estimates that suggest the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is underestimating agricultural methane emissions by up to 90 percent, and bottom-up estimates accepted by the federal government showing lower emissions.
Top-down emissions estimates involve monitoring atmospheric methane concentrations by satellites or from air samples collected at high altitude by planes, and using models to estimate the sources of emissions. Bottom-up estimates take into account livestock populations and animal emission factors.
In their detailed analysis, researchers used a spatially explicit, bottom-up approach, based on animal inventories and feed-intake-based emission factors, to estimate enteric methane emissions for cattle and manure methane emissions for cattle, swine and poultry for the contiguous United States.
The researchers estimated methane emissions using a "gridded" approach, dividing the U.S. into 0.1 by 0.1-degree GIS units, which created cells from 31 square miles in the northern United States to 42 square miles in the southern part of the country.
"This level of detail enabled us to more accurately assess agricultural methane emissions based on activities involving livestock," explained lead researcher Alex Hristov, professor of dairy nutrition, who is a member of the current National Academy of Sciences Anthropogenic Methane Committee.
"We must have more specific information about methane emissions that combines local livestock populations and characteristics with distribution of landscape features – and a gridded inventory approach provides that," he said.
According to the EPA, the top three sources of anthropogenic methane in the United States are the combined energy sector – natural gas, petroleum systems and coal mining – which makes up 40 percent of the total; livestock, 36 percent of the total; and landfills, 18 percent of the total.
Methane emissions from livestock operations are the result of microbial fermentation and methanogenesis in the forestomach of ruminants and similar fermentation processes in manure from both ruminant and non-ruminant farm animals.
Methane is also produced from enteric fermentation in the digestive tract of non-ruminant herbivore species, such as horses, donkeys and mules, as a result of fermentation processes in their hindgut. However, "hindgut fermenters" do not produce nearly as much methane per unit of fermented feed as ruminants, so enteric or manure emissions from equine species were not included in this analysis. Neither were emissions from small ruminants such as sheep and goats, which are negligible in the U.S.
County-level, annual enteric methane emissions for all states were estimated for cattle only. A total of 3,063 counties in the contiguous U.S. were included in the cattle methane emission database.
Cattle inventories by county were obtained from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which is the last census data currently available. Body weight data for cattle was derived from EPA records and dry matter feed intake was estimated based on National Research Council prediction equations for the various categories of cattle. Methane emission yield factors were calculated for each cattle category.
Overall, the research, which was published this month in Environmental Science and Technology, yielded total U.S. livestock methane emissions of 19.6 billion pounds per year. However, uncertainty surrounding that total is high, researchers acknowledged.
Compared with enteric methane, predicting methane emissions from manure is a more complex process and carries a larger uncertainty in the estimates, the researchers pointed out. Manure composition, type of storage facilities and manure retention time, and environment – particularly temperature – are among the factors that affect methane emissions from manure.
There is great uncertainty in both enteric and manure methane emissions from livestock, Hristov conceded. He said that research around the world has shown that variability in enteric methane emissions largely can be explained with variability in feed dry-matter intake. Nutrient composition of the feed is also important but has a lesser impact on enteric methane production.
"If methane emissions from livestock in this country really are twice as high as what is estimated now — and we don't believe they are — that would put a big target on agriculture to take measures to cut these emissions," said Hristov. "Having an accurate and spatially explicit assessment of methane emissions from livestock is critical for reconciliation of top-down and bottom-up approaches, and it's the starting point in any mitigation effort."
"Our analysis showed that the EPA’s estimates are close to reality, but there is a discrepancy in the spatial distribution of emissions. And, our research revealed a great discrepancy with global models such as the EDGAR (Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research) inventory."
ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company partially funded this research.
Such a situation has become a legal drama for 5 Star Feedlot. READ MORE
John Yoder, vice president of waste-handling equipment at Eldon C. Stutsman, Inc., in Hills, Iowa, offers these five tips for maximizing the value of livestock manure for crop nutrients. READ MORE
The primary purpose of the pilot is to evaluate the efficacy of the MagneGas patented plasma arc sterilization process for cow manure. The pilot is jointly funded by the USDA through a $432,000 USDA grant and provides MagneGas Corporation a unique opportunity to further validate the sterilization process.
MagneGas previously conducted similar pilot programs for the hog industry in Indiana in 2016. The data gathered from that program was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency and USDA for review. The current grant was a direct result of the prior pilot study. The company believes that with the additional data gathered as a result of the current pilot in Florida, it will be in a position to move ahead with the broader commercialization of its sterilization process within the agricultural industry.
"Our USDA pilot program is a major milestone in the progression of our sterilization business and the culmination of many years of hard work and engineering," said Ermanno Santilli, CEO of MagneGas Corporation. "Sterilization has been a core focus for the MagneGas technology since our formation. The USDA pilot further validates the progress we are making, and we believe it will serve as a key catalyst for market acceptance in the agricultural industry and a major financial opportunity for MagneGas. We are working diligently towards completing the setup of this USDA pilot for the dairy industry and, at the same time, are working towards establishing a commercialized pilot in North Carolina to service the hog industry. We also remain on track to launch our commercial program for the sterilization of leachates in landfills with our Italian partners in early 2018."
"We are very pleased to take these next steps with the USDA and our sterilization business," said Scott Mahoney, CFO of MagneGas. "As we head into 2018, we are focused on accelerating the launch of our sterilization technology as well as other emerging applications we are developing. The key financial metric we have imposed in the commercialization process has been to proactively seek out non-dilutive capital solutions that enable these programs to move forward efficiently. The USDA pilot is an excellent example of these efforts. We will have 50 percent of all pilot costs offset through the USDA grant awarded in June of 2017. We will continue to seek similar grants, joint venture programs and other structures that will enable MagneGas to advance our technologies in the near term."
University of Gävle researchers Åsa Hadin, Karl Hillman and Ola Eriksson set out to examine the prospects for increased energy recovery from horse manure, carrying out a case study in a Swedish municipality. The trio examined management practices, environmental impact and costs. READ MORE
The Newton County operation must empty a barn of dry pig manure, revegetate land and keep the hogs on its property, Judge Gail Inman-Campbell said. READ MORE
The farm is a family-owned and -operated dairy that milks 390 cows twice a day. When the family decided to expand their barn earlier this year, they began looking at moving away from sand bedding. READ MORE
The benefits of attending the workshop include increased workplace safety by increasing awareness of hydrogen sulfide, knowledge on the latest information regarding strategies to reduce hydrogen sulfide exposure, and the opportunity to share hydrogen sulfide related experiences that may help save lives.
To find out more information, visit here: http://www.prairieswine.com/training/h2s-awareness-training/ .
Rick Martens, executive director of the Minnesota Custom Applicators Association travels the country trying to help farmers and hired manure applicators change their perspective on safety. He’s got nearly 35 years experience in the business – his family’s business is Martens Manurigation — and he’s learned a thing or two he wants others to be aware of. READ MORE
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