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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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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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It would seem fair to say that dairy farms are beneficial to their local communities. Not only do they provide a nutritious food source, but have contributed nearly 900,000 jobs nationwide.

On the contrary, could dairy farms have negative effects on our livelihood?

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For the first time, six manure agitation boats participated together in an equipment demonstration last month at Marshland Acres Custom Heifer Raising in Durand, Wisconsin. Prior to the demonstration, manufacturers and company representatives shared information about each boat.

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For the first time, six manure agitation boats participated together in an equipment demonstration. Hosted by Marshland Acres Custom Heifer Raising in Durand, Wisconsin, the event included educational sessions, equipment introductions and the demonstration of six manure agitation boats entering, agitating and exiting concrete manure storage.

We asked an expert,
Q. Why are manure agitation boats growing in popularity?

Manure agitation boats represent a quantum leap in technology – providing significant agitation fuel savings (50 to 60 percent or more) while solving the problem of removing settled manure solids from larger manure storage structures. In addition to helping dairy producers maximize their storage capacity by removing years of built-up solids, they can create a more uniform nutrient content in the manure being applied to the fields.

Like any technology, however, there are risks. Dairy staff and professional manure applicators need to safely operate agitation devices carefully, not only for their own safety but to prevent damaging the manure storage (clay erosion, plastic liner damage or undermining a push-off ramp). Taking time to learn and practice safe operation will reduce risk and are keys to making the overall manure agitation process more profitable.

Probably the most unique aspect of this technology is its home-grown nature – 70 percent of the manufacturers are either professional manure applicators or dairy farmers who set out to find a way to solve the manure solids problem on their own. Innovations such as in-lagoon GPS guidance, automated systems to prevent liner damage and models that drive themselves into and out of the storage are just the beginning of what is to come.

—Kevin Erb, Conservation professional training coordinator, University of Wisconsin Extension

VIDEO:

For the first time, six manure agitation boats participated together in an equipment demonstration. Hosted by Marshland Acres Custom Heifer Raising in Durand, Wisconsin, the event included educational sessions, equipment introductions, and the demonstration of six manure agitation boats entering, agitating and exiting concrete manure storage.

The Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin (PNAAW), Minnesota Custom Applicators Association (MCAA) and University of Wisconsin – Extension planned the event.

Read a related article "Several options exist for manure agitation boats."

Dairy producers from New York to Wisconsin met in central Michigan recently at the Car-Min-Vu Dairy Farm to check out the latest technology in manure management.Owner Chad Minnis, the next generation of the family, adopted a new generation of manure handling with the McLanahan Nutrient Separation System.

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