Manure Manager

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Wisconsin releases State of the Industry report for manure applicators in 2021


March 23, 2022  by Bree Rody

The UW-Madison Division of Extension nutrient management team’s custom manure applicator sub-team has released its State of the Industry report for 2021 in the field of for-hire manure applicators.

According to the report, milk production continues to have a positive correlation with manure production. Currently, Wisconsin cows produce twice as much manure and milk as they did in 1970, with 1.2 million cows in the state producing 12 billion gallons of manure and wastewater annually.

There are 194 registered manure application firms across the state, and their range of capacity varies from 250,000 gallons of manure per year to upwards of 500 million gallons per year. Firms entering and exiting the industry have been inconsistent; for example, 2016 saw net zero new firms, with eight establishing business and eight exiting, while some years have had higher net-new (2017 saw 17 entries and nine exits) and other years, like 2020, saw a net negative with nine new firms at 14 exits. Last year saw a major boost with 23 new firms and only five exits. So far, in the first three months of 2022, three firms have exited the state’s industry.

For liquid application, use of straight trucks and tractor tankers have been flat for the last 15 years, while use of semi-trucks has risen steadily. Solid spreaders have also risen significantly, from 13 in 2007 to 134 last year.

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In terms of equipment purchases, there have been steady rises for boats, GPS for mapping and hose systems with low-disturbance injectors. There have been gradual changes over time in dragline trends; while six-inch hoses were once the preeminent hose size with 156.75 miles of hose in the state in 2014, that has decreased to 69.6 miles as eight- and 10-inch hoses have risen to 212.25 and 65.25 miles, respectively. Total miles of hose have decreased due to what the report states is greater efficiency from smaller hoses.

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