Research
December 14, 2017, University Park, PA – Changing weather patterns pose significant challenges for modern dairy farmers.

Deciding how best to react to those changes to ensure the vitality of dairy farms — while being good stewards of the environment — can present a bit of a conundrum for some farmers, especially if they are pressed for time and resources. What are the best management practices? Are there technologies that can help? Is there current research on the subject?

Now, those farmers can see sustainability principles in action with just a few mouse clicks, thanks to an interactive "virtual farm" website developed by researchers in Penn State University's College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension, in partnership with the project's lead, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University and the Dairy Innovation Center.

"The objective of this project is provide a 'one-stop shop' for all dairy sustainability information," said Eileen Fabian, professor of agricultural engineering and environmental biophysics in Penn State's Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. "The beauty of it is that one can take a tour of a sustainable dairy farm without stepping foot on an actual farm. The resources are accessible, free and can be viewed anytime from anywhere."

Fabian explained that the catalyst for this major undertaking was a growing movement in the dairy industry to adopt practices that mitigate the negative effects of agricultural operations on the environment, while securing the future sustainability of farms.

In Pennsylvania alone, there are 6,650 dairy farms — the second largest number of dairy farms nationally — according to the Center for Dairy Excellence. In addition to producing 10.7 billion pounds of milk annually, the state's dairy industry provides 60,000 jobs and has an estimated annual economic impact of $7 billion.

"It's a tremendous industry, and its people really care about the environment and their farms," Fabian said. "Those farmers want to do their part to protect the integrity of soil, water, air and animal habitats and to keep agriculture a strong industry. And it's our mission at Penn State to help them do just that — we believe this website will really help to move the needle."

The website, designed and developed by the creative services team at WPSU Penn State, has two virtual farms: One is a model of a 1,500-cow facility, while the other is a smaller-scale operation of 150 animals. Users can click on the various aspects of the farm, such as pastures, housing, manure storage facilities, feed silos, milking facilities and more, and information related to that specific area will pop up, allowing for further exploration.

Topics include herd management, feed management, milk production, crops and soils, manure management and greenhouse gases. The site's database includes a broad range of articles, extension fact sheets, models, images and graphics. The layers of information range from exploration of the farm site with basic information to higher levels of technical and research information, data, and models.

For example, if one clicks on the manure storage facility, several links will appear, enabling viewers to scan information on manure management plans, potential hazards caused by improper treatment, preventing infiltration into surrounding water sources, and other subjects.

"The site is user-friendly, meaning it's fairly easy for users to interact at a level they feel comfortable with," Fabian said. "They can keep it simple or dig down deep and find peer-reviewed research papers."

Fabian said a project of this magnitude requires interdisciplinary collaboration, and she acknowledged the support of Penn State researchers Daniel Hofstetter, extension and research assistant in agricultural and biological engineering; Tom Richards, professor of agricultural and biological engineering; Heather Karsten, associate professor of crop production/ecology; Douglas Beegle, distinguished professor emeritus of agronomy; and Robert Nicholas, research associate, and Chris Forest, associate professor of climate dynamics, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Now that the team successfully has launched its website, Fabian sees great potential in creating additional virtual farms, perhaps focusing on poultry production and animal welfare issues.

The five-year project received a $10 million grant from the Coordinated Ag Project Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

To tour the farm, visit virtualfarm.psu.edu. Additional information about best practices and sustainability information can be found by visiting the Penn State Extension website.
Published in Dairy
November 30, 2017, University Park, PA – A new study of methane emissions from livestock in the United States – led by a researcher in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences – has challenged previous top-down estimates.

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.
Published in Air quality
November 29, 2017, Tampa, FL – MagneGas Corporation, a clean technology company in the renewable resources and environmental solutions industries, recently announced it has formally launched a U.S. Department of Agriculture sterilization pilot program at a dairy farm based in Bowling Green, FL.

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."
Published in Companies
November 27, 2017 – The costs of managing horse manure were found in a Swedish study to be similar to feeding costs.

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
Published in Other
Innovative research is reshaping what is known about ammonia and related emissions from feedlots. And that new knowledge may help the industry to adjust its management, shape and react to public policy more effectively.
Published in Beef
For decades, phosphorous has accumulated in Wisconsin soils. Though farmers have taken steps to reduce the quantity of the agricultural nutrient applied to and running off their fields, a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reveals that a “legacy” of abundant soil phosphorus in the Yahara watershed of Southern Wisconsin has a large, direct and long-lasting impact on water quality.
Published in Dairy
Oil and gas wells and even cattle release methane gas into the atmosphere, and researchers are working on ways to not only capture this gas but also convert it into something useful and less polluting.
Published in Pyrolysis
November 15, 2017 – Livestock facilities can be odorous, including systems that manage beef cattle on deep-bedded pack.

Based on the results of past research, bedding mixtures containing pine shavings produce less odors and have lower levels of total E. coli compared to bedding mixtures containing other crop- and wood-based materials. Unfortunately, availability and affordability may limit the use of pine bedding in beef deep-bedded facilities.

But recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has found that some odor relief is possible if pine bedding is mixed with readily available and affordable corn stover bedding.

During the study, mixtures of bedding materials, containing zero, 10, 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, and 100 percent pine chips combined with corn stover, were tested over a seven-week period for odor generation and presence of E. coli. Results showed that including even 10 percent pine chips in the mixture lowered the concentration of skatole, a highly odorous compound emitted from livestock waste. When 100 percent pine chips were used, skatole was reduced by 88 percent compared to using corn stover alone. Including greater than 60 percent pine chips in the mixture increased the concentration of odorous sulfur compounds up to 2.4 times compared to corn stover.

Bedding material did not affect E. coli.

Researchers are suggesting a bedding material mixture that contains 30 to 60 percent pine and 40 to 70 percent corn stover may be the ideal combination to mitigate odorous emissions from livestock facilities using deep-bedded systems.
Published in Beef
November 10, 2017, Madison, WI – A study of Wisconsin land sales found farmland in some counties is worth more if it's closer to a concentrated animal feeding operation, also known as CAFOs.

The analysis came out of a larger project to combine statewide data on land use, land sales and soil survey data, said Simon Jette-Nantel, farm management specialist for the University of Wisconsin-Extension. READ MORE
Published in Other
October 19, 2017, The Netherlands – In 2016, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation (OECD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported that China consumes around 28 percent of the world’s meat. A lot of this meat is nationally produced, so a huge amount of livestock is needed. News outlets report that China raises around nine billion chickens for meat consumption. But besides space, feed and resources, another serious problem is manure management. Developing and implementing safe, cost-effective and sustainable ways is necessary and the Netherlands can play an important role.

Within the Chinese government, there is an urgency to accelerate the transition to a circular, bio-based agriculture. The modernization of agriculture is a prominent topic in the 13th five-year plan and billions of euros will be invested in bio based and organic waste recycling over the next few years. Manure utilization is often not optimal in China, which has negative effects on the environment. At the same time, this also offers opportunities for foreign parties to enter the market.

Therefore, a Dutch mission visited China in early October to gain a better understanding of the latest developments and to explore opportunities for long-term cooperation.

“China has a large demand for agri-food technology and know-how,” said Epi Postma, director of B&E BV and one of the participants. “So there is a lot of supply and demand. Agri-food is a top-priority for the Chinese government. The Netherlands has much to offer and the Chinese know it. However, active involvement of the Dutch Embassy and Wageningen University for Sino-Dutch cooperation is imperative for opening doors.”

Wageningen University (WUR) has close ties with several Chinese agricultural institutes such as the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the China Agricultural University (CAU). Last year, WUR and CAAS together established the Sino-Dutch Livestock Waste Recycling Center.

“We want to set up projects which link research institutes and the business community,” said Roland Melse, senior environmental technology researcher who also accompanied the mission. “Another good example of such a cooperation is the Sino-Dutch Dairy Development Center where WUR, FrieslandCampina, Rabobank and other companies are participating on the Dutch side.”

In the Netherlands, solving the manure problem is a process that is already in the spotlight for many years. Further reducing emissions and raising resource efficiency are important challenges as well, now that the Netherlands has the ambition to become a full circular economy by 2050. Furthermore, the sector needs to adapt to changing natural conditions caused by a changing climate.

Thus, getting insight on the available knowledge and the innovation ecosystem in China can also provide solutions for the Dutch situation. Of course, this is not applicable one-on-one.

“Operating on such a large scale as China’s needs long-term investments in time and capital,” said Melse. “So that is quite a challenge for smaller companies.”

On the other hand, the technology and tools that the Netherlands can offer are very interesting for China. Eijkelkamp Soil & Water Export, for example, “provide solutions that make sustainable soil and water management easier,” said Winnie Huang, export manager. “Looking at manure nutrient management, our technology has environmentally friendly solutions for the whole value chain. The Netherlands [is a] pioneer with this technology.”

But it is not all about technology.

“Rules and regulations are another important factor in further developing this industry,” said Melse. “When there are stricter laws, companies will have to follow them. For example, recently we organized a seminar with 20 Chinese CEOs from large meat producing companies and you could see that Chinese companies are preparing themselves for the future. They are interested to see which future possibilities there might be for cooperation or which products and technologies are available on the market. So the Chinese government also plays a role in strengthening Sino-Dutch cooperation.”

“We hope to have government support for developing or demonstrating the Dutch expertise in manure management,” said Huang. “Our sensors and data enhance nutrient management, thus making manure a useful resource for the entire value chain. Learning the Dutch approach and adapting to Chinese practice will deliver mutual benefits to both countries in this sector.”
Published in Companies
October 16, 2017, Olympia, WA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture proposes to study whether it should regulate cow manure hauled from dairies and spread at other commercial farms.

WSDA monitors how dairies use manure, but the oversight ends when manure goes elsewhere. The department hopes to get a grasp on whether those manure applications threaten groundwater and waterways. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
October 12, 2017, Deschambault, Que – The Canadian government is prioritizing science and innovation and the competitiveness of the agriculture industry as a whole to create better business opportunities for producers and Canadians.

Funding was announced recently for two projects by the Centre de recherche en sciences animales de Deschambault (CRSAD), including $665,546 aimed at developing sustainable strategies for standardizing the manufacturing and use of recycled bedding in dairy production to improve the sector’s environmental performance without reducing the profitability of businesses, as well as to respond to consumer concerns.

With the funding, the CRSAD will be able to determine the best methods for manufacturing recycled bedding from manure and to make recommendations for the adoption of the best management methods, practices and technologies, with the welfare of animals and workers and the safety of products also taken into account. Dairy producers will be therefore able to reduce their operating costs and reuse or sell the energy produced by the biodigesters, which will provide farms with an additional income stream.

“The investment in research to improve livestock housing conditions in the dairy industry will enable Canadian producers to differentiate themselves, be more competitive, improve their businesses and, especially, enhance their living conditions and those of their livestock,” said Jean-Paul Laforest, president of the CRSAD.
Published in Dairy
October 12, 2017, Washington, DC – Voluntary conservation practices adopted by farmers in the Western Lake Erie basin are having positive impacts downstream, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The report – by USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) – shows these practices reduce sediment losses from fields by an estimated 80 percent and reduce the amount of sediment being delivered to Lake Erie by an estimated 40 percent.

“One thing I know for certain – the benefits of conservation flow downstream,” said Leonard Jordan, acting chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “When hundreds of farms take action in one area, one watershed, it can make a world of difference. And our conservation planning and financial support provides producers a step-by-step plan to achieve those results.”

NRCS helps farmers make conservation improvements on working lands. Reports like this one help the agency better understand the effectiveness of conservation practices and how to adapt conservation approaches, Jordan said. Though there is still work to be done, this report shows that private landowners are responding to regional needs and putting conservation plans into action to improve water quality across the basin.

This is the second of a two-part report on the Western Lake Erie basin, which has historically suffered from high levels of nutrients and sediment associated with human activities in the region. The first report focused on edge-of-field losses, whereas this report focuses on sediment and nutrients entering streams, rivers and Lake Erie.

Relative to the scenario where no agricultural conservation practices were in place, the voluntary conservation practices in use by farmers in the basin in 2012:
  • Reduce phosphorus and nitrogen lost from cultivated cropland fields by 61 and 26 percent, respectively;
  • Reduce phosphorus and nitrogen deposition into the streams and rivers of the lake’s basin by 72 and 37 percent, respectively; and
  • Reduce phosphorus and nitrogen entering the lake by 41 and 17 percent, respectively.
Water quality is directly impacted by nutrients and sediment. By reducing the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus entering basin waterways, farmers are doing their part to reduce the chances of harmful algal blooms that may lead to hypoxia, or oxygen depletion, throughout the lake. Algal blooms can make the lake unsuitable as a source of drinking water and recreation as well as habitat for fish and wildlife.

CEAP uses a sampling and modeling technique to yield these results, quantifying the impacts of conservation practices adopted across the region. These analyses provide scientifically-based direction for future conservation planning efforts targeting specific management goals.

Farmers use a variety of conservation practices to reduce losses of nutrients and sediment. The practices evaluated by CEAP include strategies like nutrient management, cover crops and structural erosion control. Cutting-edge technologies that use GPS and variable rate applications are also assessed.

While many Western Lake Erie basin producers have worked independently to curb agricultural runoff into the Great Lakes system over the past 50 years, recent Farm Bill programs have accelerated conservation efforts on private lands located in targeted watersheds throughout the region. Coordinated and targeted efforts through the Western Lake Erie Basin Initiative, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, National Water Quality Initiative and Regional Conservation Partnership Program provide additional funding and leverage partnerships in priority watersheds, including those that flow into the Western Lake Erie basin.

“Conservation applied on any acre delivers an environmental benefit, but when conservation efforts target the most vulnerable watersheds and lands, the results are even greater,” added Jordan. “We know it won’t solve the problem alone, but it’s a critical piece of the broader solution.”

The effectiveness of targeted conservation planning is also assessed in the report. These results and other CEAP assessments in the region provide another source for informing science-based conservation efforts within the basin. Upcoming assessments will continue to build upon this base.

Read the full report, titled Conservation Practice Adoption on Cultivated Cropland Acres: Effects on Instream Nutrient and Sediment Dynamics and Delivery in Western Lake Erie Basin, 2003-06 and 2012.
Published in Other
October 10, 2017, Toledo, OH – A team of STEM students came up with their best solution to help farmers process manure and fertilizer in a more environmental friendly way.

The St. Ursula team is putting the final touches on their model of a machine that separates manure into water, liquid fertilizer and dry fertilizer. The team is competing against high schools from across the country in the Lexus Eco Challenge. READ MORE
Published in Other
October 3, 2017, Mankato, MN — Minnesota's namesake river is straining from a big increase in water flow caused by farm drainage systems, heavy with nitrates that threaten Mankato's drinking water supply, according to a study conducted by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

A summary of the study (pca.state.mn.us/mn-river-study) was released October 2 at a park next to the Minnesota River.

Based on recent water monitoring and decades of research, overall the Minnesota River is suffering in water quality. Sediment clouds the water, phosphorus fuels algae growth and nitrogen and bacteria pose health risks. READ MORE



Published in State
October 3, 2017 – In the past, livestock producers have inquired about applying liquid dairy or swine manure to newly planted wheat fields using a drag hose. The thought process is that the fields are firm (dry), there is very little rain in the nearby forecast, and the moisture in the manure could help with wheat germination and emergence.    

The manure nutrients could easily replace the commercial fertilizer normally applied in advance of planting wheat. The application of fall-applied livestock manure to newly planted or growing crop can reduce nutrient losses compared to fall-applied manure without a growing crop.

Both swine and dairy manure can be used to add moisture to newly planted wheat. It’s important that the wheat seeds were properly covered with soil when planted to keep a barrier between the salt and nitrogen in the manure and the germinating wheat seed.

It’s also important that livestock producers know their soil phosphorus levels, and the phosphorus in the manure being applied, so we don’t grow soil phosphorus levels beyond what is acceptable.

If the wheat is planted at its typical one-inch depth and swine or dairy manure is surface applied there should be no problem applying 5,000 gallons per acre of swine manure or 8,000 gallons per acre of dairy manure. If the wheat is emerging when manure is being applied, there is the possibility of some burn to the wheat from swine manure. If the wheat is fully emerged, there is little concern for burning.

If incorporating manure ahead of planting wheat, try to place the manure deep enough (at least three inches) so the manure does not impact the germination and emergence of the wheat crop. Another option is to incorporate the manure and wait a few days before planting the wheat.

If incorporated, the opportunity to carry some of the manure nitrogen through the winter could allow for a reduction in the amount of topdress nitrogen needed for the wheat crop next spring.

The application of 5,000 gallons of swine finishing manure could contain 200 pounds of nitrogen, 75 pounds of P2O5 and 100 pounds of K2O. The application of 8,000 gallons of dairy manure could contain 175 pounds of nitrogen, 60 pounds of P2O5 and 150 pounds of K2O. Manure nutrient content can vary tremendously from one manure storage facilitate to another but stay reasonably consistence from the same facility year after year.

As always, print out the weather forecast when surface applying manure. Remember the “not greater than 50 percent chance of 0.5 inches of rainfall in the next 24 hours” rule in the western Lake Erie watershed.
Published in Other
October 2, 2017 – Global methane emissions from agriculture are larger than estimated due to the previous use of out-of-date data on carbon emissions generated by livestock, according to a study published in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management.

In a project sponsored by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Carbon Monitoring System research initiative, researchers from the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI) found that global livestock methane (CH4) emissions for 2011 are 11 percent higher than the estimates based on guidelines provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2006. This encompasses an 8.4 percent increase in CH4 from enteric fermentation (digestion) in dairy cows and other cattle and a 36.7 percent increase in manure management CH4 compared to IPCC-based estimates. Revised manure management CH4 emissions estimates for 2011 in the U.S. from this study were 71.8 percent higher than IPPC-based estimates.

"In many regions of the world, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with higher intakes of food,” said Dr. Julie Wolf, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), senior author of the study. “This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions. Methane is an important moderator of the Earth's atmospheric temperature. It has about four times the atmospheric warming potential of carbon dioxide. Direct measurements of methane emissions are not available for all sources of methane. Thus, emissions are reported as estimates based on different methods and assumptions. In this study, we created new per-animal emissions factors – that is measures of the average amount of CH4 discharged by animals into the atmosphere – and new estimates of global livestock methane emissions."

The authors re-evaluated the data used to calculate IPCC 2006 CH4 emission factors resulting from enteric fermentation in dairy cows and other cattle, and manure management from dairy cows, other cattle and swine. They show that estimating livestock CH4 emissions with the revised emissions factors, created in this study, results in larger emission estimates compared to calculations made using IPCC 2006 emission factors for most regions, although emission estimates varied considerably by region.

“Among global regions, there was notable variability in trends in estimated emissions over recent decades,” said Dr Ghassem Asrar, director of JGCRI and a co-author of study. “For example, we found that total livestock methane emissions have increased the most in rapidly developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa. In contrast, emissions increased less in the U.S. and Canada, and decreased slightly in Western Europe. We found the largest increases in annual emissions to be over the northern tropics, followed by the southern tropics."

The estimates presented in this study are also 15 percent larger than global estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only slightly smaller than estimates provided by the EPA for the U.S., four percent larger than EDGAR (Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research) global estimates, three percent larger than EDGAR estimates for U.S. and 54 percent larger than EDGAR estimates for the state of California. Both the EPA and EDGAR use IPCC 2006 default information, which may have contributed to the under estimations.
Published in Air quality
September 12, 2017, Lancaster, PA – At the third Waste to Worth conference in mid-April in Raleigh, NC, one of the topics covered was evaluating agricultural best management practices in the Chesapeake Bay program.

A major objective is to bring science-based facts to support the use of practices that will improve the watershed and be reflected in the bay model. READ MORE
Published in Other
September 7, 2017, Idaho Falls, ID – The Idaho National Laboratory has released multiple new open-source software projects, including a program aimed at helping with manure management decisions.

The Decision-support for Digester-Algae IntegRation for Improved Environmental and Economic Sustainability (DAIRIEES) was developed in collaboration with the University of Idaho and Boise State University. It is a novel treatment system to mitigate many current environmental concerns of manure management and create value-added product from manure, including bioplastics, electricity, fertilizer and animal bedding. DAIRIEES allows users to enter characteristics about a dairy farm’s manure, manure management plan and regional market. Based on these inputs, the options are analyzed in detail using data from laboratory research to determine the most efficient use of this material. You can read more about it at dairiees.inl.gov.

All of the programs are freely available to the public and open to collaboration directly with researchers and engineers outside of the laboratory. It’s hoped that by fostering widespread distribution of the software, it will accelerate the adoption of these technologies within industry and fuel innovation in other research organizations that may build on them.

All of INL’s open-source software may be acquired at no cost at github.com/idaholab, including the following recent additions to INL’s open-source software portfolio.

Published in Other
August 30, 2017, Ohio - When hay is harvested nutrients are removed from the field. A ton of alfalfa removes approximately 13 pounds of phosphorus (as P2O5) and 50 pounds of potash (as K2O). According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Ohio harvested 2.6 tons per acre of alfalfa in 2016.

Many hay fields are not pure alfalfa. The acidic soils of the southern and eastern parts of the state make it difficult to maintain an alfalfa or clover stand so a mixed stand of grass and alfalfa/clover is common. Stands in older fields are often just mostly grass. A grass hay crop will remove just as many nutrients per ton as an alfalfa crop. The big difference is that the annual yields from grass hay fields are usually about 1.3 tons per acre lower than alfalfa fields.

Livestock manure can be used as a fertilizer source to replace nutrients removed through hay harvest. Pen pack beef manure will contain approximately 7.9 pounds of nitrogen (mostly in the organic form), 4.4 pounds of phosphorus (P2O5) and 6.6 pounds of potash (K20) per ton according to OSU Extension bulletin 604. Note that these are older book values and your actual farm manure nutrient levels can vary depending upon the animal's ration, the amount and type of bedding material used and how manure is stored and handled. The recommendation is to sample and test manure at least on a yearly basis. This will provide a more reliable indication of the actual nutrient content of the manure on your farm. For more information about how and when to sample manure, Penn State Extension has a good publication available on-line at http://extension.psu.edu/plants/nutrient-management/educational/manure-storage-and-handling/manure-sampling-for-nutrient-management-planning.

Let's assume a livestock producer wants to use pen pack beef manure to replenish the nutrients in a hay field where he harvested three tons per acre of hay. Since alfalfa and grass hay both remove similar amounts of nutrients per ton, we can assume the three tons of hay removed per acre contained 39 pounds of P2O5 and 150 pounds of K2O. If pen pack beef manure was used to replenish these nutrients, 8.8 tons per acre would be sufficient to replace the phosphorus. However, a rate of 22.7 tons per acre would be needed to replace the potash. The 22.7 ton per acre manure application rate would result in almost 100 pounds of P2O5 being applied per acre, far more than was removed in the three tons of hay.

A farmer would need to be cautious about using this practice repeatedly and growing the soil phosphorus level. It takes about 20 pounds of phosphorus applied to a field to raise the soil test level one pound per acre or two parts per million. So if the soil test level is low, the additional phosphorus from the manure would not raise the soil phosphorus level much in a single year.

The key to using livestock manure to replace the nutrients removed through hay harvest is to get even distribution of the manure across the entire field. Having mowed hay fields as a teenager, where bedded pack manure was applied, I would strongly urge an even distribution pattern across the field. Avoid large clumps that will plug the mower or interfere with regrowth.

If you are unsure how many tons per acre your solid manure spreader applies there is a simple way to make a determination. Make a heavy plastic piece that is 56 inches by 56 inches. Fasten it to the ground with weights on the corners and apply manure across the plastic. Fold up the plastic and weigh the manure captured. Many people use a bathroom scales for this. One pound of manure captured on the plastic is equivalent to one ton of manure applied per acre. Thus, if you captured 10 pounds of manure the application rate was 10 tons per acre.

It is common for county extension offices to have farmers ask; "Can manure be applied between cuttings"? The answer is "yes". Farmers commonly use liquid swine and liquid dairy manure between cuttings to replace soil nutrients and "boost" regrowth of the forage crop in northwest Ohio. There is the potential to damage the crowns of the forage plants but most farmers seem to like the results of the manure application. Solid manure could also be applied between cuttings instead of waiting until fall to apply the manure. The manure application should take place as some as the hay is baled.

Liquid beef manure is also being used to replace nutrients in hay fields. Liquid beef manure we have sampled has contained 40 pounds nitrogen (about half in the organic form and half in the ammonium form), 35 pounds of phosphorus (P2O5) and 30 pounds of potash (K20) per 1000 gallons of product. Applied with a drag hose, this can be an excellent fertilizer for a forage.

A final cautionary note regarding manure application to forage fields: If manure is coming from a herd with animals infected by Johne's disease, that disease can be transmitted by manure to healthy cattle. According to a publication from the US Dairy Forage Research Center at Madison Wisconsin and authored by Michael Russelle and Bill Jokela, the Johne's bacterium can survive on hay. Therefore, those authors' recommendation is that in herds with Johne's, manure should not be applied as a topdressing on fields that will be harvested as dry hay.
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