Sustainability
September 21, 2017, Portland, OR – U.S.-based private investment fund Climate Trust Capital has reached agreement on its first carbon investment in the biogas sector – the West-Star North Dairy Biogas Project.

More than $862,000 of Climate Trust Capital’s Fund I was invested in a covered lagoon digester that will destroy methane and produce carbon offsets under California’s cap and trade system. Fund I was launched in October 2016, seeded by a $5.5 million investment from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and supported by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“This has been an exciting year, with marked progress toward the deployment of the $5.5 million that makes up Climate Trust Capital’s Fund I,” said Sean Penrith, executive director for The Climate Trust. “We have officially made investments in each of our three preferred sectors – forestry, grassland conservation, and livestock digesters – and are pleased to see our investment strategy come to fruition with high-caliber partner, California Bioenergy.”

The investment is based on the anticipated 10-year value of carbon credits from a livestock digester project located at West-Star North Dairy, a 1,500-acre farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Project partner, California Bioenergy LLC (CalBio), has built three other dairy digester projects, including the state’s largest, with many more scheduled for development. This project investment is expected to begin generating carbon offsets in January 2018 with initial cash flow from the sale of these offsets in 2019.

“Realizing the potential cash flow from the future sale of a dairy digester’s environmental attributes is a complex process involving a high level of project expertise, careful monitoring, and the management of regulatory and market risk,” said Ross Buckenham, CEO for California Bioenergy. “The Climate Trust is a sophisticated carbon investor and together we are able to harness the value of these environmental benefits. The Climate Trust’s willingness to invest in a significant portion of the future attributes further reduces risks to the famer and project. We are grateful for their support as well as the support of the California Energy Commission and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”

Farms have historically flushed their manure into uncovered lagoons, which generate methane and release it to the atmosphere. The West-Star North digester will treat the manure by installing CalBio’s patented dairy digester design – excavating two new lagoons in the process – and then covering the lagoons with a flexible, high-density polyethylene cover. Captured methane will be stored and then combusted in a high-efficiency generator that delivers renewable electricity to Pacific Gas and Electric. In addition, the digester will be double lined and enhance ground-water protection. Effluent from the digester will be used to irrigate fields and will also be part of a USDA drip irrigation study.

“Digester projects offer a host of beneficial revenue streams, from improving the economic and environmental performance of dairies, to clean energy, scheduled electricity delivery, improved soil nutrient management, and diverting waste from landfills,” said Peter Weisberg, senior portfolio manager for The Climate Trust.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
September 21, 2017 – Join AgSTAR at the BioCycle REFOR17 conference and attend the program’s “States Advance Digester Development” session.

During the session – being held from 4:15 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 17 – participants will explore state policies and incentives that support and advance anaerobic digestion (AD). Speakers will include:
Speaker presentations will be followed by a moderated panel discussion examining:
  • State-level goals and how states are achieving them
  • Successes and setbacks related to AD policies
  • Challenges facing the potential expansion of digesters
  • Potential opportunities in the AD market
BioCycle REFOR17 is being held October 16 to 19, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, at the Red Lion Hotel on the River. This national biogas conference offers hands-on information and tools to position companies or organizations for success in AD, biogas markets, composting, manure, food waste, and renewable fuels. The event will feature plenary and technical sessions, an exhibit hall, a site tour, and workshops.

View the BioCycle REFOR17 website for more information.
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
One back surgery and 30 years later, Lee Kinnard, co-owner of Kinnard Farms in Wisconsin, is starting to believe that the dairy has finally put all the pieces in place to streamline recycling of manure-laden bedding sand from their barns.
Published in Dairy
August 17, 2017, Chevy Chase, MD - If there is one point on which most Americans agree, it is that technology will play an increasingly important role in the way we live and work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that in just three years there will be 1.4 million computer science-related jobs, and only 400,000 qualified job candidates.

In response, 4‑H, America's largest youth development organization, and Google are coming together for a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) collaboration that will teach kids both technical skills like coding, and essential skills students will need in the future like, teamwork and resilience. But the program isn't just about programming computers, it's about helping students learn skills they'll need to approach problems in a fundamentally different way across every discipline from business to engineering to the arts.

The collaboration is funded by a $1.5 million grant from Google.org to establish a CS program that will empower more than 100,000 young people across 22 states in its first year. The collaboration will include an effort to reach communities where youth traditionally have limited access to computers, internet or CS training.

With Google's support, 4‑H will equip community educators with new funding, curriculum, training, devices and the support of Google CS experts. As with most 4‑H programs, the effort will feature teen-led, peer-to-peer mentoring.

4‑H and Google publicly announced the collaboration today at a press conference at the Illinois State Fair, where they also debuted a new 4‑H-themed virtual reality Expedition showcasing 4‑H youth using technology to improve their communities.

"It is incredibly exciting to combine the power of 4‑H with the impact of Google's philanthropy, products and people," said Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of National 4‑H Council. "Working together, our two organizations will make a tremendous difference in the lives of young people by making computer science education accessible and engaging. No matter where kids live or what they aspire to be, these are skills that will help them succeed."

The collaboration between 4‑H and Google lays the groundwork for 4‑H to deliver computer science education across the organization, which reaches nearly six million kids in every county and parish in the United States.

It establishes an official 4‑H Computer Science Career Pathway, which helps kids progress from casual interest in CS, to dedicated studies and ultimately career experience. Utah State University Extension's 4‑H program is a key partner in co-creating the 4‑H CS Career Pathway and developing tools for educators to implement the program.

"We are proud to be a part of this effort to bring hands-on programming to our nation's youth," said Jacquelline Fuller, President of Google.org. "It's important for kids to develop a wide range of skills, like computer science skills, analytical thinking and creative problem solving, and our work with National 4‑H Council will help ensure that kids across the country have access to a better future."

In its first year, the program is available in the following states: Alabama, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Parents and educators seeking more information on how to get involved can reach out to their local 4‑H office at HTTP://4-H.ORG/FIND/.
Published in Associations
Horses tend to fall under the radar when we think of manure management, says Les Ober, certified crop advisor with Ohio State University Extension in Geauga County.

“That is until somebody makes a mistake and pollutes someone else’s water, or they offend their neighbors with flies or odor,” he says. “That’s when the neighbor calls up the water conservation district and says, ‘Hey, this guy is piling manure up and he isn’t doing anything with it.’ Most of the cases in our county, where the guys (inspectors) have been called out, have not been on dairy farms or livestock farms, they’ve been on horse farms.”

Ober’s county, just east of Cleveland, has the second-highest horse population in Ohio, and he has worked extensively with equine professionals. His clients generally have small farms, small lots, with a relatively small number of animals. He advises them on hay quality, pasture management, and manure and nutrient management.

In his work, he has found that there are some common problems in the industry.

“When I talk to horse owners, of course the first thing they’re looking at is a nice new arena, or increasing the number of stalls. But what are you going to do with the manure?” he asks. “You have to think of that problem before you move ahead or move horses into the stalls. You can’t just pile it up at the back door and hope it goes away. Manure is a problem, it can offend the neighbors and it can definitely compromise water quality.”

The two areas of environmental concern are the manure produced inside the stable, and also the manure that is produced outside.

“In our area we normally have guys with four or five acres trying to keep six horses. That’s bad business, you can’t do that, especially if you’ve got a boarding stable. You’ve got to turn them out year round. What are you going to do with those horses when you turn them out? If you’re lucky the ground will be frozen but most often it’s just covered with snow and you’re going to turn it into a quagmire.”

“Here’s two things you have to look at; first, the manure inside the stable. What are you going to do with that?” he asks.

Of the manure produced outside, “what about the water quality issues outside that barn?”

“The first thing we’re going to look at is grazing, which is the traditional pastime of horses. They are just like sheep. They will graze right to the ground. Eventually, they will graze it down till everything is gone and then they will go after the grass under the fences. That is when you know you have hungry horses,” he says.

“One thing you have to understand about horses is that they are pretty much like a conveyor belt – food goes in, poop comes out and it’s continuous. Horses graze 22 hours out of 24.”

Artificial measures can be taken to protect pastures from excessive erosion due to weather, grazing or turnout.

“It is part of the real solution to all weather turnout. This has been a real boon for the horse industry, it’s not cheap but it is definitely part of the solution,” Ober says.

He explains that they take a pasture area that has been cordoned off and make sure it drains well, tiling it as needed. Then they bring in geodesic cloth and put it down as a ground cover to provide some support and so gravel is not lost. Then they cover it, first with a very coarse limestone, working up to a very fine limestone cover.

“This creates a pad that the horses follow and that solves the turnout problem,” he says. “They don’t need to be out on pastures in the middle of December punching the pasture up, then there’s a good rain and all the manure and soil that’s out there washes into the creek. That’s a problem you’ll have to deal with.”

The choice of bedding can be another issue.

“The big problem is that the majority of that bedding that is choosen is sawdust and wood chips,” he says. “It takes too long to break down, so you’ll need more microbial activity and that will suck up all the available nitrogen in the soil to break down the carbon in the shavings and bedding and you’ll have stunted grass.”

Ober notes that nitrogen ratios for wood chips, sawdust bedding are 200 to 750 to one.

“For straw bedding it’s 50 to 150 to one, which is not too bad to have to break down,” he says.

“You need to source the right bedding; straw is about $4 per bale, shavings $4 to $8. Overall cost is going to be about $45 to $46 for straw and $35 to $40 for wood shavings. Another factor to consider is that cleaning sawdust and wood shavings out of a stall is labor intensive and expensive.”

Ober points to an OSU fact sheet on nitrogen enhancement and says that if you are going to haul manure on a daily basis, you will want to add about a half cup of ammonium sulfate into your wheelbarrow load.

“This should give you enough nitrogen to start that break down process,” he says. “I would like to see maybe half to a full cup added, and I will tell you that it does work very, very well.”

Another option that people have used is the dumpster.

“This is a popular way because people today just don’t know how to get rid of horse manure. In one situation there is one dumpster for six horses that is picked up and emptied every three weeks. That works out to about $3,000 per year. If you are boarding horses, you have to consider the $250 to $300 a month for manure. That’s a major cost.

“Many farmers are using this system simply because their backs are against the wall,” Ober says. “You will save money during the summer months (when turned out) as opposed to winter but this is still not a good system for dealing with manure.”

Composting is another solid option for manure.

“We don’t see it used that much but there are definite advantages,” he says.

Make a pile about three feet high and seven feet wide, and aim for the optimal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We want to maintain the moisture so that when you grab that material you feel the moisture. Too much water kills the bacterial action. You need to keep rotating the pile and aerating it. You will end up with a product that is very, very good and you’ll be able to save most of the nitrogen. If you bring it into a nitrate form it will not leave the ground as fast. This is another sound management tool.”

Ober explains that the reason composting is not yet popular in the horse industry is due to the carbon to nitrogen ratio.

“If you can get ahold of some other materials to get in there, some green materials, some other animal material, source all the green clippings or straw then bring it all together and bring it into a compost pile,” he says.

When it is done, the compost has been through a complete cycle and the product is very good and can be used in landscaping and throughout parks.

“The process kills pathogens, flies and bacteria,” Ober explains. “The difficulty is the high carbon to nitrogen ratios, and if you use just saw dust it could take up to two to three years to get that pile of compost down just right.

“We’re talking about horse manure. And, we can haul it to landfill sites or we can get it back out to the farm where it can do some good. It is a good product and full of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.”

The first thing you have to do if spreading horse manure on the field is to take a soil test.


Published in Other
August 11, 2017, Wexford, Ireland – More than 250 delegates from across Europe and around the world will gather in Wexford next month to discuss a range of scientific research topics with potentially profound importance for the future environmental performance of Irish agriculture.

The biennial Ramiran (Recycling of Agricultural, Municipal and Industrial Residues in Agriculture Network) conference is being hosted by Teagasc and will focus on new cutting-edge strategies and technologies to improve the efficiency of manure and residue management on farms. READ MORE




Published in Other
August 10, 2017, Seneca Falls, NY – New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball recently congratulated Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm, located in Wyoming County, as the recipient of the 2017 Agricultural Environmental Management Award.

Each year, the award honors the outstanding efforts of a New York State farm to protect and preserve soil and water quality.

“Congratulations to the Dueppengiesser Farm on receiving the Agricultural Environmental Management Award,” said Ball. “This family-run farm has long worked with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District to ensure they are taking the steps to take care of the environment while increasing the profitability of their operation.”

Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm was recognized, along with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, during a ceremony at the Empire Farm Days, being held in Seneca Falls. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Empire State Potato Growers, and the American Agriculturist Magazine presented the award to the family for their implementation of conservation best management practices that benefit the environment and protect the community.

“At Dueppengisser Dairy, we have always been aware of the need for environmental conservation, and we strive to implement practices that will protect our lands for the future,” said Mike Dueppengiesser, owner of Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm. “Best management practices are a priority for our farm business, and we do our best to keep up with latest technology in conservation efforts such as implementing the use of cover crops, GPS technology, zone tillage and dragline systems. Working closely with our employees, plus collaboration with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, strengthens our environmental stewardship efforts.”

Dueppengiesser Dairy Farm is a third-generation family farm that manages nearly 2,000 milking cows and young stock and operates more than 2,000 acres of cropland, producing corn, alfalfa and wheat. As early adopters of the principles of agricultural environment management, the family has implemented several practices, such as reduced tillage, use of cover crops, and nutrient management, to protect soil and water quality. The family is also very active in the community, hosting several agricultural education programs on their farm, including the Farm Bureau School Education Program, Agri-Palooza and the Western New York Soil Health Field Day.

The farm has worked closely with the Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District, which provides technical assistance to advance agricultural environmental management practices within the county. The Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District has a very active agricultural environmental management program that has assisted over 361 farms since its inception. Their AEM Strategic Plan focuses on nutrient management and reducing cropland erosion, and Dueppengiesser Dairy Company has implemented various practices to address these issues that will improve soil health and protect water quality.    

“The Dueppengeiser family has been a pleasure to work with over the years as they have proactively undergone numerous implementation projects related to improving conservation on their farm, along with hosting many educational outreach programs on their dairy, such as soil health workshops, and Wyoming County’s Agri-Palooza event,” said Greg McKurth, Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District manager. “I am proud of the Wyoming County farms for working collectively and progressively with our district staff to be good stewards of the land.”

The annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award is jointly sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturalist Magazine, and the Empire State Potato Growers. Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state.
Published in Dairy
August 9, 2017, Lake Mills, IA – Eric Christianson – a 30-year swine industry veterinarian who also operates a contract hog finishing site for Christensen Farms – has a unique perspective on the controversy brewing in nearby Worth County over the prospect of seven concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) being built.

Christianson, whose hog site is a $1.5 million operation with computers monitoring and regulating every phase of the operation, said he understands the concerns of the opponents in Worth County.

"But the science isn't there to validate their concerns," he said. READ MORE
Published in Swine
August 9, 2017, Kensett, IA – An organization calling itself Worth County Against CAFOs recently drew a crowd of about 60 at a meeting about the possible construction of several CAFOs throughout the county.

The CAFO opponents are hoping public pressure will lead to a moratorium on construction of CAFOs until Iowa’s Legislature can fix what the group alleges are “loopholes” in the state matrix that allows for easy approval of permits. READ MORE
Published in Swine
August 8, 2017, Celina, OH – About 40 area developers, politicians, farmers and business leaders gathered July 29 for the Our Land, Our Water Tour to learn more about land and manure-management efforts that could help improve Grand Lake's water quality.

The event was hosted at Schmitmeyer Farm near Coldwater and was the second annual tour and presentation meant to bring together local people from all walks of life and educate them on efforts to improve the lake. READ MORE

Published in Regional
August 8, 2017, Warsaw, NY – New state regulations that prevent farms from spreading manure on ground that is frozen or saturated has pushed improvements to agricultural waste storage capacities.

“There’s a big demand across the state, with the [NYS] DEC requiring farms to have enough storage to get through the wet and rainy seasons,” Wyoming County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Greg McKurth told The Daily News after a new round of Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control Program grants were announced August 7. READ MORE
Published in State
August 1, 2017, Steven’s Point, WI – A coalition of grassroots environmental groups is calling for a statewide moratorium on new and expanding CAFO permits in Wisconsin.

Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network recently forwarded a letter to the Wisconsin State Farmer urging state legislators to “press the pause button” on new and expanding CAFOs in Wisconsin and put public health and safety before an “open for business” mantra. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
When Tim Sigrist came back to the family farm in Dundee, Ohio, after college, his father John told him he needed to find a new revenue stream. Eventually that would be a booming composted manure business, but first Tim drove a canned milk route.

“Not long after, we learned that the soil surrounding the farm where we had been spreading liquid manure was completely saturated with nutrients,” he remembers. “At the time, in the early 1990s, we had over 350 dairy cattle. Our extension agent suggested composting our solid manure and we decided to try it as a way to deal with the excess manure. The idea of selling the compost came later.”

There were no best practices available for manure composting – let alone much basic research – so Tim was left to experiment with different methods (more on that later). But success was achieved and by 1994, Bull Country Compost was born.

Demand was strong right away – Sigrist made the product attractive by offering delivery – but as word spread, demand started to outstrip supply. They needed more manure, and about three years in, another revenue stream was born through taking horse manure from their Amish neighbors along with manure from other area farms.

Nowadays, Bull Country Compost is one of the largest Class III EPA-inspected composting facilities in Northeast Ohio.

“In 2016, we sold over 45,000 bags of compost, up from 36,000 in 2014,” Sigrist says proudly. “But we actually sell more product in bulk cubic yards than in bagged form to both consumer and retail markets.”

Ten percent of the manure currently comes from their farm (Tim’s parents John and Linda sold the dairy cows in 2013 but continue to raise about 120 dairy heifers), with the remaining from other farms, auction barns and seasonal fairs.

“We have farms where we haul out once a year and others where we do pick-up every week,” says Sigrist. “All locations pay us to take it away and there is a monthly fee to have a dumpster placed. Due to wear and tear on the dumpsters and the extensive cost of trucking – and the fact that some locations are up to 100 miles away – we can’t haul it for free.”

Indeed, it was early on that Sigrist realized it would be easier to provide large manure collection bins at farms, and that number of bins continues to grow.

“They’re 30-yard roll-off dumpsters made by a nearby manufacturer,” he says. “Because manure is so corrosive, we have to continually repair and replace them.”  

Back when he started, Tim knew the basics of composting. Factors such as the type of manure, composting method (oxygenation) and weather would all affect timelines and quality of the final product. He first tried windrows turned by tractor, but it was labor intensive and the Ohio rains kept the material too wet. He researched various types of vessel structures and built one of his own with a concrete base.

“It was 150-by-80 feet with a homemade top supported by wood beams,” Sigrist explains. “There were two rows of material 10-feet wide.”



Over time, he added more vessels, making them wider to accommodate larger equipment, better aerated and better able deal with excess water. Older vessels were aerated using pipes running through the manure, and newer vessels have aeration constructed into the concrete floor through ditches with perforated pipes. This arrangement allows liquid to flow out as composting proceeds.

“The liquid is captured in a drainage system that empties into our manure lagoon,” Sigrist explains. “There is a small fan in each vessel that feeds into the perforated pipes to aid air flow, and this significantly increases the temperature as well.”

Newer vessels also sport a higher hoop roof, which also boosts airflow.  

The manure is composted for six to eight weeks being moved to one of three curing sheds for six to eight months. Screening is next, then bagging in the bagging shed or placement in piles for bulk sale. Sigrist created the bagging system using auger equipment and a homemade conveyor, with which four employees can bag and stack almost five tons of compost an hour.

In total, Bull Country Compost has eight vessels, with 3,000 yards of material continually being processed by about nine employees, some full-time and some part-time/seasonal (Sigrist says that similarly to many industries, finding people willing to do manual labor like bagging can be difficult). The entire operation stretches over three acres.

Multiple groups from both Ohio State University and various local soil and water conservation districts have toured the site, and Sigrist has hosted curious visitors from as far away as Alaska.

While years ago people were generally unsure about composted manure, that has changed.

“It’s been 25 years and we have many loyal customers,” Sigrist says. “Word of mouth is the best advertisement there is. Also, many of our retail locations have an open bag of compost beside the pallet of bags for sale, and this helps people to ‘see, smell and feel’ the compost. Also, through the media and internet, people’s general awareness of soil and environmental health has risen and many consumers have learned the difference between raw manure and compost on their own.”

The farm is still active, with the heifers and 500 acres of crops. Sigrist says the manure composting and farm activities support each other in unique ways, making the entire operation able to support multiple generations of his family.

The composting business has also allowed the family to branch out into offering other services such as custom litter spreader application and custom harvesting. No specific new markets or products are being pursued, but Sigrist says they are always keen to gain a larger share of the soil amendment market at garden centers, and always listen to feedback from customers and garden professionals.

“The entire journey has been a big learning experience,” he reflects. “From finding new markets and keeping up with growth to creating vessels and streamlining the process, we had to develop our own model as there weren’t any of its kind at the time.”

One project Sigrist hopes finish in the future is to pipe heat generated by the compost to the bagging shed.

“That way, bagging can start earlier in the year in more comfort,” he says. “I haven’t gotten to it yet, but in the meantime, we bought the employees nice insulated jackets!”


Published in Profiles
July 27, 2017, California - A liquid organic biofertilizer made from the material that is left over after manure or food waste is digested to create clean electricity compares favorably in nutrient value with commonly used synthetic materials in trials on canning tomatoes and corn.

UC Davis professor of biological and agricultural engineering Ruihong Zhang designed an anaerobic biodigester nearly 10 years ago that is used to turn food waste from campus dining halls into clean energy.

Several dairies have also invested in digesters to treat their manure, which would otherwise emit the greenhouse gas methane, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture offers grants to help defray the cost.

Cost is the major stumbling block to more widespread use of the technology, and the trial of a biofertilizer made in the campus digester is an attempt to see if the bottom line can be made just a little more favorable. READ MORE
Published in Anaerobic Digestion
July 17, 2017, Madison, WI – Dane County is teaming up with local organizations, businesses and farmers to continue phosphorus reduction efforts in the Yahara Watershed, County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently.

The new public, private partnership will allow farmers to more effectively apply manure by injecting it directly into the ground, reducing the amount of nutrients that run off into local waterways.

“By using this equipment, farmers will be able to cut down on soil erosion, reduce odors, and decrease the amount of phosphorus leaving their fields,” said Parisi. “Our partnership reflects a unified effort between local leaders and businesses to ensure the Yahara Watershed stays clean and healthy, while providing farmers with the innovative tools they need to succeed in an environmentally friendly way.”

In the agreement, Dane County and the Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (Yahara WINS) will each allocate up to $60,000 to purchase a manure tanker and Low Disturbance Manure Injection (LDMI) toolbar. Yahara Pride Farms will rent a tractor from Carl F. Statz and Sons Inc., a farm implement dealer based in Waunakee, to haul the tanker and LDMI bar across each participant’s property. Yahara WINS is led by the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District and will use funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance to finance its share of the endeavor.

Yahara WINS is pleased to partner with the Yahara Pride Farm Group, Dane County and the Clean Lakes Alliance to provide opportunities for farmers to gain experience with low disturbance manure injection –an approach that will improve water quality by reducing the amount of phosphorus reaching our streams, rivers and lakes,” said Dave Taylor, consulting director for Yahara WINS.

Yahara Pride Farms is a farmer-led, nonprofit organization and was the first to bring this minimal soil disturbance technology for manure to Wisconsin farmers. To date, the program has covered over 3,600 acres of land and reduced 5,500 pounds of phosphorus on the Yahara Watershed using this manure technique. In 2016 alone, Yahara Pride Farms’ low disturbance manure injection resulted in an estimated 1,100 pounds of phosphorus savings from more than 1,200 acres of land.

“Farmers are leading progress toward collective water quality goals in the Yahara Watershed,” said Jeff Endres, chairman of Yahara Pride Farms. “Managing how nutrient-rich manure is applied to farm fields is a key component to achieving these goals.”

Last year, Dane County implemented and tracked more than 313 conservation practices and systems, resulting in 18,392 pounds of phosphorus being reduced in the Yahara Watershed. Under this new partnership, the manure injector is projected to reduce 1.5 pounds of phosphorus per acre of land each year.

Participants of the program will be charged a fee to cover operator costs, tractor rental, repair and maintenance, scheduling and insurance. To reduce participant expenses, Dane County developed a cost share program for individual farmers and custom haulers to purchase the LDMI toolbar. Currently, two cost share agreements totaling $46,495.50 have been approved to purchase the toolbar equipment.

The Yahara WINS executive committee approved the grant request to fund 50 percent of the costs for a tanker and LDMI toolbar with funds from the Clean Lakes Alliance in June. The Dane County board of supervisors is currently reviewing a resolution committing up to $60,000 in county dollars to match the committee’s funds.

Yahara Pride Farms will provide an annual report to the Dane County Land Conservation Division and Yahara WINS detailing treated field locations, number of acres covered, and pounds of phosphorus reduced. Previously, Yahara Pride Farms partnered with a local equipment dealer to provide a tanker and LDMI toolbar for individual farmers to use and gain experience with the technology.

Published in Manure Application
July 7, 2017, Chicago, IL - The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy®, established under the leadership of dairy farm families and importers, announced its sixth annual U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards in a June 28 Chicago ceremony.

The program recognizes dairy farms, businesses and partnerships whose practices improve the well-being of people, animals and the planet.

From farm to table, transparency and ingenuity drive dairy forward, as demonstrated in the newly released 2016 Sustainability Report, which describes the Innovation Center's strategic plan focused on social responsibility. The plan was developed by dairy community leaders in recognition of the changing consumer and customer marketplace where health, environmental and ethical practices are of increasing interest.

Award winners represent the U.S. dairy community's voluntary efforts toward continuous improvement in sustainability.

"This year's winners demonstrated impressive leadership and creativity in the application of technology and other practices that protect our land, air and water," said Barbara O'Brien, president of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. "And, they're proactive about building strong relationships with their communities and employees. Based on this year's nominations, it's clear that dairy farms and companies of all sizes use sustainable practices because it's good for the environment, good for their community and good for business."

Judges evaluated nominations based on their economic, environmental and community impact. The independent judging panel — including experts working with and throughout the dairy community — also considered learning, innovation, scalability and replicability.
Through creative problem solving, this year's winners addressed water quality, soil fertility, community outreach, energy efficiency and more.

"These award-winning practices can serve as models for other farmers, too," said Jason Bateman, dairy farmer, 2016 award winner and one of this year's judges. "Winners made breakthroughs, and they improved everyday practices. It's inspiring to see people collaborate with partners outside of dairy and build on ideas from other industries."

The 2017 U.S. Dairy Sustainability Awards winners are:

Outstanding Dairy Farm Sustainability:

Kinnard Farms
, Casco, Wisconsin

The Kinnard family milks more than 7,000 cows — a scale that allows them to maximize cow comfort while supporting their rural community. They retain the area's young, college-educated residents by employing them to innovate farm technology. The Kinnards are often on the cutting edge; they made a first-of-its-kind sand recycling center — one that uses no freshwater in the process — to separate, wash and dry sand for repeated use. Sand is this farm's preferred bedding material because it provides comfort and sure footing for cows and is bacteria free, keeping udders healthy.

Rickreall Dairy, Rickreall, Oregon

Rickreall, Ore., residents know Louie Kazemier as a good neighbor. In fact, his relationships are the force behind his farm's frequent improvements. For example, when solids were building up in the manure lagoon, Louie initiated trade with a seed farmer to provide fertilizer in exchange for feed. He also collaborated with a local food processor to use their wastewater for irrigation. Kazemier depends on a whole-system approach to tend to what matters — and that turns out to be everything. The results are big: for one, most of the dairy's 25 employees have been there for more than 20 years.

SwissLane Farms, Alto, Michigan

This farm is 23 miles from downtown Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan. That poses both pressures from urban sprawl and opportunities to reach people several generations removed from the farm. Since 2006, SwissLane's Dairy Discovery program has taken advantage of this opportunity, offering farm tours that have reached more than 36,000 students, teachers and families. They have plenty to demonstrate when it comes to sustainable practices. After a farm energy audit, SwissLanes Dairy made improvements that reduced energy costs by 17 percent per cow. They also took steps to become verified through the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program.

Outstanding Dairy Processing & Manufacturing Sustainability:

Glanbia Nutritionals, Evanston, Illinois

While consumers don't see the Glanbia Nutritionals brand in their grocery stores, it has a big footprint as one of the leading manufacturers of American-style cheese and whey. To implement a sustainability plan, they started with a single plant in Idaho. The team determined priority impact areas, measured social presence, determined metrics to demonstrate progress and identified areas where additional resourcing was needed. By 2016, the company had replicated this approach with three more plants and adopted a global sustainability strategy that promises to "nurture, grow and sustain the lives of our employees, milk producers, customers, consumers and communities."

Outstanding Achievement in Resource Stewardship

Kellercrest Registered Holsteins, Inc., Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

The Keller family participated in the Pleasant Valley Watershed Project, a collaboration among state, local and national agencies to reduce the local watershed's phosphorous load. Results were dramatic and positive. In fact, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is expected to propose removing the Pleasant Valley branch from the EPA's list of sediment-impaired streams. Other farms that participated in the project saw economic benefits too, and this spurred them to form a group to build on the learnings. The Kellers, whose family has farmed the hills of Mount Horeb since the late 1840s, saw cost savings as well as environmental benefits.

Honorable Mention:

Mercer Vu Farms, Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

The Hissong family needed a manure management system that allowed them to maintain their high standard of cow comfort while protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They looked at industries outside of agriculture to devise something dairy farms can replicate. They developed a system that allows them to use manure solids for cow bedding and for compost, while using phosphorus from the liquid manure as crop fertilizer in a targeted application. Their new system eliminated greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 740 cars from the road.

Outstanding Achievement in Community Partnerships:

Oakland View Farms & Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Caroline County, Maryland

Environmental communities and farmers haven't always seen eye to eye – especially in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, where water quality is a significant issue. But these groups identified a common goal: improve the community's water quality through cost-effective projects that could be replicated. They did that with a woodchip bioreactor – the first of its kind in Maryland – that eliminated nitrogen from agricultural drainage water. An effective, virtually maintenance-free solution, it eliminates 48 pounds of nitrate-nitrogen from flowing into the Chesapeake Bay each year.

Honorable Mention:

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, The Kroger Co. of Michigan

Michigan Milk Producers Association and Michigan State University Extension, Novi, Michigan

The benefits of milk's nutrient-dense profile have long been established. But the Michigan Milk Producers Association (MMPA) relied on lesser-known qualities to help the residents of Flint, Mich. during a crisis in which they were susceptible to lead poisoning from contaminated water. Calcium and iron, found in dairy, can help mitigate health risks of lead consumption. Through a comprehensive partnership, 589,824 servings of milk were donated to those in need. Now there's a donation model to show this is possible in other communities affected by potential lead contamination.

Honorable Mention:

U.S. Dairy Education & Training Consortium Extension, College Station, Texas

The need for skilled agricultural professionals in the southwestern United States continues to grow, especially as universities across the region have reduced or eliminated their dairy programs. USDETC thrives today thanks to farmers and other dairy industry professionals. The goal: train animal and dairy science, agribusiness and pre-veterinary students on practical aspects of modern dairy management. Students study and visit as many different dairies, management styles and developmental stages as possible. It's all about growing participants' understanding of what a dairy operation entails so they're better equipped to lead.
Published in Profiles
June 30, 2017, Ottawa, Ont. - Agri-food stakeholders from across the value chain are invited to attend the second annual National Environmental Farm Plan (NEFP) Summit in Ottawa, November 1-2, 2017.

As Co-Chair of the NEFP steering committee, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) encourages producers and farm groups to be part of this initiative that seeks to harmonize the many different environmental farm plan programs in Canada.

"Farm organizations recognize that demonstrating producers' commitment to environmental best practices is increasingly important," said Ron Bonnett, CFA President. "CFA is pleased to invest in efforts to create more consistency among the Canada's various environmental farm plans, while ensuring they remain responsive in their own regions."

An Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) is a voluntary, whole-farm, self-assessment tool that helps farmers and ranchers identify and build on environmental strengths, as well as mitigate risks on their operations. A National EFP (NEFP) would not be a replacement program, but rather a harmonization effort across the existing EFP programs nationwide.

Building on an inaugural event held last year, summit attendees will further develop a national standard designed to connect environmentally sustainable practices at the farm level with global food buyers' growing need to source sustainable ingredients.

"The NEFP builds more than 20 years of success of EFPs in the farm and ranch community," said Erin Gowriluk, NEFP Summit Chair and Policy and Government Relations Manager with the Alberta Wheat Commission. "The credibility of the EFP program has already attracted several major buyers. But the national standard will lay the groundwork for consistent sourcing from coast-to-coast while ensuring that the process continues to be driven by producers."

The NEFP program is well into development, led by a steering committee comprised of participants from across the agri-food value chain.

Four sub-committees are working toward developing a national protocol as it relates to data collection, standards and verification, all of which will be supported through comprehensive communications and stakeholder outreach.

Summit attendees will hear from each committee, along with subject matter experts, about the progress to-date - information that will further guide steps toward this national standard.

Learn more and register for the 2017 National EFP Summit by visiting www.nationalefp.ca. The NEFP is always seeking to add to its list of stakeholders involved in shaping this made-in-Canada solution. Interested organizations should contact co-chairs Drew Black or Paul Watson.
Published in Business/Policy
June 21, 2017, Fair Oaks, IN – On June 16, Midwestern BioAg was joined by more than 80 local farmers, media and staff to celebrate the grand opening of its new TerraNu fertilizer manufacturing plant.

The event, hosted at Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, IN, featured remarks from Midwestern BioAg leadership and Mike McCloskey, co-founder and chairman of the board at Fair Oaks Farms. READ MORE




Published in Companies
June 20, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) is seeking nominations for the 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award (ESA).

The ESA recognizes cattle producers whose natural resource stewardship practices contribute to the environment and enhance productivity and profitability. The ABP are asking producers to take this opportunity to share the unique environmental practices employed on their operation and to present the positive story about cattle producers' contribution to the environment.

Nomination forms are available on the ABP website, from the ABP office or from any local delegate. All cattle producers are encouraged to either enter or nominate another producer who is taking strides towards sound environmental production practices.

A team of judges made up of ABP delegates, the 2017 ESA winner and an industry associate will review the submissions and tour the nominated ranching operations. Each applicant will be scored on predetermined criteria unique to the practices they implement in their business.

The winner will receive a commemorative gate sign, a video highlighting their ranching operation and an all-expenses paid trip from anywhere in Alberta to the 2017 ABP Annual General Meeting in Calgary, where the award will be presented at a formal banquet. The competition is open to all cattle producers. Deadline for nominations is July 15, 2017, and the winner will be announced December 2017.

Contact the Alberta Beef Producers at 403-451-1183.

Published in Beef
June 7, 2017, Ada, OH – Manure is (and always has been) part of livestock production, but in recent years it has been increasingly viewed as an asset instead of a liability. Experts emphasize, however, that to get the full benefits and minimize the drawbacks of manure application for the benefit of all parties involved, planning and preparation are extremely important.

“It has to be a sustainable operation for the applicator, the livestock producers and the crop producers,” said Eric Dresbach, president of W.D. Farms, LLC, during a presentation at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada this spring. “Everybody has to win and nobody can win big.” READ MORE
Published in Other
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