Manure Manager

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UW Extension agents, specialists win award


The Custom manure Applicator Subcommittee, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension, University of Wisconsin-Extension, is a recipient of a University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin-Extension 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence for protecting valuable water resources by providing innovative and effective manure management training throughout Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. (Back row, left to right) Jerry Clark, Nick Schneider, Matt Hanson, Ted Bay, Joe Bollman. (Front row, left to right) Jim Leverich, Interim Chancellor Marv Van Kekerix, Kevin Erb, Cheryl Skjolaas. Photo by Jim Gill

October 19, 2010, Madison, Wis. – Creating more than a dozen intentional manure spills may not seem like a good way to protect Wisconsin’s water resources. Yet this innovative approach to demonstrating the proper way to contain, clean up and restore a spill site is one of the many innovations piloted by UW-Extension’s Custom Manure Applicator Subcommittee of the ANRE Nutrient Management Team.

As a result of these demonstrations and the subcommittee’s other work, the subcommittee was chosen to receive the UW-Extension/UW Colleges 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence.

“The annual Chancellor’s awards recognize outstanding contributions by UW colleges and UW-Extension’s partners, supporters and employees to undergraduate education and university outreach around the state,” said Interim Chancellor Marv Van Kekerix.

Members of the subcommittee include:

  • Ted Bay, UW-Extension Grant County, crops/farm management agent
  • Joe Bollman, UW-Extension Columbia County, agriculture agent
  • Jerry Clark, UW-Extension Chippewa and Eau Claire Counties, crops/soils educator
  • Kevin Erb, UW-Extension, conservation professional development and training coordinator
  • Matt Hanson, UW-Extension Dodge County, crops/soils agent
  • Jim Leverich, UW-Extension, on-farm research coordinator
  • Nick Schneider, UW-Extension Winnebago County, agriculture agent
  • Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Extension, youth agricultural safety specialist

Manure is a big issue in Wisconsin, where the dairy industry produces the equivalent of 12 billion gallons of liquid waste annually – enough to cover a college of NFL football field (including end zones) to a depth of five miles. Manure is a valuable fertilizer, but applied incorrectly, it can cause fish kills and drinking water contamination, and fertilize algae growth in lakes and streams. One-third of the state’s manure is applied by 116 for-hire application firms serving Wisconsin.

Since its initial formation in 2000, the subcommittee has worked with agencies, stakeholders, and professional applicators in Wisconsin and across the North Central states to reduce the risk of water contamination by:

  • assisting in the formation of a statewide trade association (Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin – PNAAW) to address common issues;
  • partnering with the insurance industry to create market-based incentives (10 to 50 percent premium reductions) for professional applicators taking part in the training and certification;
  • leveraging more than $750,000 in federal, state and industry resources to create two research projects looking at the impact of heavy farm equipment on rural and town roads and bridges in rural areas;
  • empowering individual applicators to become active participants in the rulemaking process with DATCP and DNR, serving on the Governor’s manure Management Task Force, and working on common issues with the Towns’ Association, State Patrol and Wisconsin Department of Trasportation.

This Extension effort has been producing significant benefits for both the industry and the environment. A fully trained employee will understand the regulations farmers are under, and will be better able to help the farmer meet the regulations. The value of the training is reflected in the recent increase in participation.

  • 336 employees, representing 45 of the 116 firms, have completed Level 1 since Jan. 1, 2010. This represents a 100 percent increase over the long-term average. These employees have been tested on the basics of spill response, safe application and Wisconsin regulations.
  • DATCP, DNR and local Land Conservation Districts report that farmers’ manure management plans are more fully implemented because of the training program.
  • Officials have documented an increase in reported manure spills because applicators are less afraid of the regulatory community and encouraged farmers to follow the law and self-report. At the same time, a decrease in spills/runoff by for-hire applicators has been documented.