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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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A field-by-field nutrient management program requires multiple components to maintain adequate fertility for crop growth and development. A well-designed soil sampling plan, including proper soil test interpretations along with manure sampling, manure nutrient analysis, equipment calibration, appropriate application rates and application methods are all necessary components of a nutrient management plan. Implementing these components allows manure to be recognized and used as a credible nutrient resource, potentially reducing input costs and the potential of environmental impacts.

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I recently interviewed Terry Feldmann, head of Maurer-Stutz’s agricultural engineering division, about the manure management landscape that dairy producers face today. Feldmann assists livestock producers planning, designing, siting and building new or expanded facilities in Illinois and surrounding states.

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Leon Weaver hopes new changes to his manure management system cut in half the time and management it currently takes to manage his dairy’s 40 million gallons of manure. Weaver, an owner of Bridgewater Dairy in Montpelier, Ohio, jokingly admits that if his new McLanahan sand separator system works using manure press effluent as wash water, he’ll use the extra time and money he’d otherwise spend managing manure to go fishing.

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Unlocking the full potential of manure as a resource and defining that resource so it is environmentally friendly: that’s the overall vision. Industrialized anaerobic digestion holds this kind of promise and extends the renewable energy-producing capabilities of rural America – beyond the limitations of corn and soybeans. But how do we get there?

California has already moved in this direction as environmental pressures on large dairies have created opportunities for producing biogas, converting it to biomethane and delivering pipeline-quality renewable natural gas.

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Originally conceived as a cement pump, the hose pump is fast becoming the technology of choice for transferring abrasive dairy waste like sand-laden manure.

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Animal waste storage and treatment systems have historically been selected and designed to efficiently use valuable fertilizer nutrients for crop production while protecting soil, air and water quality. The primary reason to store manure is to allow the producer to land-apply the manure at a time compatible with the climatic and cropping characteristics of the land receiving the manure.

Manure nutrients can be best utilized when spread near or during the growing season of the crop. Therefore, the type of crop and method of manure application are important considerations in planning manure storage and treatment facilities.

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