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Manure

See what farms are using for nutrient management, from anaerobic digesters and storage to field application and emissions.

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In the past 30 years, manure storage has changed, particularly when it comes to size. As storage facilities grow, thorough agitation becomes a challenge. It’s not just storage size that has changed, though; the consistency and content of manure has changed, too.

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“I would house twice as many cows if I didn’t have to deal with manure.” This statement by Dean Strauss of Majestic Crossing Dairy expresses a concern shared by many large dairies – effective management of waste. It can be costly, time-consuming and downright dirty.

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Many states in the Mississippi River Basin are developing a statewide nutrient reduction strategy at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency. This initiative outlines strategies or management practices to reduce nutrient loading into the Mississippi River and, ultimately, in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Recent deaths of farmers and cattle have raised awareness of the all-too-common dangers of working around manure storage facilities. People “being overcome” or feeling dizzy around manure storage areas happens too often. Headlines often list the reason as asphyxiation or toxic gas.

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For the past 63 years, Keith Spicher’s family has been running Kish View Farms in Belleville, Pennsylvania. The 650-acre operation is a partnership between Keith and his brother.

Kent is in charge of managing the crops and books while Keith manages the dairy. Although he is no longer an official partner, their father, David, still helps out on the operation.

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Dairy farming is a risky business on many levels. With almost every decision, a dairyman must weigh the personal, societal, environmental and financial risks. Not to mention all the potential impacts the decisions may have on the well-being of workers, neighbors and animals.

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