Waste Galore comfortable taking full responsibility due to high standards
March 7, 2008 by Tony Kryzanowski
The most painful act for any
business person is to turn down business. But Indiana-based custom
manure applicator Kip Edelman knows that when your reputation is on the
line, sometimes the best business decision is to walk away.
The most painful act for any business person is to turn down business. But Indiana-based custom manure applicator Kip Edelman knows that when your reputation is on the line, sometimes the best business decision is to walk away.
|Waste Galore, owned and operated by Kip and Donita Edelman, offers its nutrient management services within about a 200 mile radius of its home base of Rensselaer, Indiana, taking in parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.|
Edelman owns Waste Galore Inc. with his wife Donita and has been in business since 2001. Company headquarters are in Rensselaer, located in the northeast corner of Indiana between Chicago and Lafayette.
“Our strong point is that we are very conscientious about the environment,” says Edelman. “We take full responsibility if there is an environmental breach of any sort and pay the fine as long as the farmer is going by our recommendations. We’ve gotten business because they know that we take responsibility for our actions.”
By using careful planning and good record keeping, the company hardly ever puts itself in that position. This includes mapping where manure was applied, the gallons per acre applied, the number of acres per field treated, the number of days hauled, where it was hauled from, and so on. The company’s four employees are also experienced and understand the company’s desire to work carefully. Special attention is paid to the location of ditches and also the application rate.
Although the company tries to avoid winter spreading, sometimes its customers have no other option because of lagoon storage issues. In that case, the company will prepare a field before winter sets in to minimize runoff by building a berm along the edges.
“Our motto is that there is no emergency,” says Edelman. “If there is an emergency, then it’s really due to poor planning.”
Waste Galore offers free nutrient analysis and will work with customers to determine the best application rate per acre to meet their nutrient needs without overloading the field. Edelman says he promotes the idea of applying some manure on land close by and some further away.
“Sometimes you have to convince the customer that they may pay a little more for this approach, but in the long run, you are more environmentally safe by spreading the nutrients out over more acreage,” he says. Over time, the company gets to know their customers’ needs and what to expect from year to year.
|Waste Galore’s business is split 50/50 between dairy and hog operations. At present, the company custom applies as much as 50 million gallons of liquid and 25,000 tons of dry material per year. Depending on the weather, their busiest times of year are from early February to the end of May and then from July until Christmas.|
|For dry spreading, Waste Galore uses three Knight side slingers. The dry material is typically in the form of compost, straw pack from calving units, or solid waste separated out from dairy sand bedding.|
|The company’s fleet consists of five units. This includes four John Deere 9200 tractors, each pulling a 6000 gallon Houle tank. The fifth unit is a Case 9350 tractor with a 7300 gallon Houle tank.|
|Waste Galore offers free nutrient analysis and works with the customer to determine the best application rate per acre to meet their nutrient needs without overloading the field.|
Waste Galore also seeks good communication with its customers, but sometimes company management cannot go along with what a customer wants. Often, they are looking for the cheapest route, not necessarily the most environmentally sound route.
“If he tells us to do something that we know is not right, we’ll just walk away from the job because I’m going to do it correctly,” says Edelman. It is unusual for a custom applicator to take responsibility for infractions, he adds. Most companies have their contracts worded so that the liability remains with the customer even if the custom applicator makes a mistake.
“I figure if I’m going to be in business doing it, then I need to be responsible for my actions,” says Edelman.
Waste Galore offers its nutrient management services within about a 200 mile radius of home base, taking in parts of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. At present, the company custom applies as much as 50 million gallons of liquid and 25,000 tons of dry material per year. Depending on the weather, their busiest times of year are from early February to the end of May and then from July until Christmas.
The Edelmans understand the challenges of proper manure management. Prior to launching their business venture, the couple operated a 3500 head hog finishing business. Their first experience was hauling their own hog manure, which led to hauling for their neighbors. The business grew from there. In 2001, they sold their hog operation to become full time custom manure applicators.
Initially, about 100 percent of the company’s business came from dairy operations, but that evolved to about a 50/50 split with hog operations before growing to the current point where the majority of the company’s business is with hog producers. Dairy manure management has changed over the past five years. Rather than custom applying manure, some dairy farms have gone to manure digester systems that convert the raw manure into pathogen-free compost, which is applied as fertilizer or sold, and a liquid by-product that is often used for irrigation. Despite these changes, Waste Galore still does significant business with dairy operations.
The company’s fleet consists of five units. This includes four John Deere 9200 tractors, each pulling a 6000 gallon Houle tank. The fifth unit is a Case 9350 tractor with a 7300 gallon Houle tank. For dry spreading, the company has three Knight side slingers. The dry material is typically in the form of compost, straw pack from calving units, or solid waste separated out from dairy sand bedding.
Edelman is concerned that his philosophy of spreading some manure close to a customer’s home base and some further away will become more challenging in the future due to a growing number of municipalities restricting manure haul vehicles from local roads. Ultimately, he fears some agricultural businesses will be forced to overload nutrients on land closer to their operations if road access
“Road damage is a big issue,” says Edelman. “Local municipalities are often not prepared for the volumes of manure that are being transported down local roads. If they pass a law and outlaw us, then the operators are going to do whatever they can, which is to put the manure right next to the facility. Then they overload the ground.”
Some customers have opted to switch to custom application services that use a drag hose system. Edelman acknowledges that greater use of drag hoses is a definite trend in the industry. One of the main reasons for this growth is because of new road access restrictions.
“I just lost a large dairy customer in Ohio and the only reason was restricted road issues,” he says. “I’m not saying that manure hauling doesn’t cause road damage, but there are also a lot of feed trucks going in and out of those businesses. To me, there’s really no forethought given to these regulations. With the new influx of large facilities, it’s a reactionary change and the lawmakers are not thinking about the ramifications for the future. It really puts the facilities in a bad situation.”
Using a drag hose application system limits a customer on how far from the storage facility the liquid manure can be transported and applied, Edelman says. Otherwise, the manure needs to be transported longer distances by semi-trailer trucks, and the whole road damage issue comes up again.
Given the restrictions being placed on manure hauling and the competition he faces, Edelman says he is considering an expansion into offering a drag hose custom application service. However, considering that operating a drag hose system will require a different style of management, he is weighing the move very carefully. After all, in the long run, it is possible authorities may return to his style of nutrient management as the preferred method because of problems surrounding the issue of nutrient overloading on farmland.