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October 12, 2009
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Contents
  • Don’t Take Manure Storage Shortcuts
  • Winter Application Considerations
  • Resources for Manure Sampling Info
  • New NDSU Calibration Publication
  • Dairy Industry Launches Sustainability Website
  • CRP Payment Update
  • Money Approved for the Mississippi Basin
  • Pork Industry Names Environmental Stewards
  • Webcast Targets Grazing and Water Quality

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      Don’t Take Manure Storage Shortcuts
    Wisconsin agricultural experts are working on an educational blitz using various media outlets, urging livestock producers to plan ahead to avoid winter manure application headaches. Reports that financially stressed farmers may be delaying emptying their storage structures as a cost-saving measure are stirring concerns of an increased risk of later manure spills and other problems.

    Almost half of Wisconsin’s dairy producers use storage and liquid manure spreading systems to handle and manage manure. The cost of agitating, hauling and incorporating manure into farm fields runs from $100 to $250 per cow per year in the state. Wisconsin farms average 87 cows, meaning the total cost of manure management could run from $8,700 to more than $21,000 per year, according to Kevin Erb, University of Wisconsin-Extension’s advisor to the state’s applicator’s association.

    Reports from manure haulers, producers themselves, and county agriculture agents suggest that producers, stressed by low prices, tightened credit, and fluctuating feed, fertilizer and other costs, may not be asking their bankers for money to cover the costs of properly handling and spreading the manure produced on their farms, Erb says.

    “We only have a limited amount of time when we can safely apply manure—and we can’t control the weather to extend the window. If the manure storage is not completely emptied in the fall, farmers may face the difficult choice of letting it overflow in spring or spreading on fields at one of the highest risk times of the year,” Erb relates.

    Pat Leavenworth, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist for Wisconsin, says farmers should take four key steps in the coming weeks and can tap into state and federal programs to get help for some of the following steps.
    1. Empty manure storage. Maximize storage capacity for winter by emptying storage facilities and properly applying manure. Do not spread manure when rain is forecast.

    2. Plant fall cover crops. Reduce nutrient losses from fall applications by planting a cover crop that can make use of the nitrogen in manure and reduce erosion.

    3. Develop a nutrient management plan. Make wise use of nutrients and reduce risks by tapping into technical help and resources to prepare a plan.

    4. Develop a winter spreading plan. For farms with limited or no storage, work with your local conservation staff or professional agronomist to help identify fields with a lower risk of runoff.
    “Producers are struggling as it is. They don’t need the additional stress, cost and labor that can come from having a manure spill, an overtopped storage structure or runoff into lakes and streams,” says Rod Nilsestuen, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The state agriculture department is joining with the Department of Natural Resources, the University of Wisconsin-Extension Service, the NRCS and the Professional Nutrient Applicators Association of Wisconsin to reach producers with information about necessary steps and information about manure management. More information about the effort and the steps to take can be found online at dnr.wi.gov/runoff/ag/manure.html.

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      Winter Application Considerations
    It is important to remember, winter manure application is not legal on frozen or snow-covered ground in some states. Iowa, for example, has a new law that prohibits surface application of liquid manure from confinement feeding operations with more than 500 animal units and totally roofed facilities, on snow-covered ground from Dec. 21 to Apr. 1 and on frozen ground from Feb. 1 to Apr. 1, except in emergency situations. Iowa State University (ISU) points out that failure to have adequate storage volume will not warrant emergency application. If emergency application is required in Iowa, four specific steps must be followed.
    1. Notify the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This includes the owner’s name, facility name, facility identification, reason for emergency application, application date, estimated number of gallons to be applied, and the size and legal description of the application field.

    2. The manure must be applied on land identified for emergency application in the current manure management plan. The land must be identified in the plan prior to application and must also be identified in the next annual update or revised plan submitted to the DNR and local Board of Supervisors.

    3. The liquid manure must be applied on fields with a phosphorus (P) index of 2 or less.

    4. Surface water drains (tile inlets) located down gradient of the application must be temporarily blocked.
    ISU reminds producers the above list is not all-inclusive of proposed rules under development in the state. Producers should take the time to study proposed rules when they are put out for public comment.

    Time should also be spent identifying fields that could be used for emergency application and updating manure management plans to reflect those available fields. Fall application should be avoided on fields that may need to be used for emergency application. Producers should also identify available back-up storage facilities that could be used to temporarily store manure until land application can be made.

    Learn more at the ISU Manure Management website at www.agronext.iastate.edu/.


      Resources for Manure Sampling Info
    Iowa State University (ISU) provides an online publication explaining the steps for effective sampling of swine manure storage pits. The publication describes how to sample solid, semi-solid, and liquid manure. ISU experts point out that sampling manure prior to application will ensure that the analysis is received in time to adjust application rates based on the nutrient concentration of the manure. For best results, manure should be sampled at the time of application or as close as possible to application.

    Agitation, mixing and storage of the manure sample affect the accuracy of the analysis. ISU suggests taking manure samples annually for three years for new facilities, followed with samples every three to five years unless animal management practices, feed rations or manure handling and storage methods change drastically. Producers who apply manure several times per year should plan to take samples when the bulk of manure is expected to be applied.

    The publication, “How to Sample Manure for Nutrient Analysis,” can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu/.

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      New NDSU Calibration Publication
    Testing manure and calibrating manure spreaders are vital components of a successful nutrient management plan, according to North Dakota State University experts. If producers need assistance in calibrating their manure spreader, a new NDSU Extension Service publication can help. “Manure Spreader Calibration for Nutrient Management Planning” (NM-1418) is available at county Extension offices or online at www.ndsu.edu/. NDSU also offers manure testing information on the web at www.ag.ndsu.edu/news.


      Dairy Industry Launches Sustainability Website
    The newly launched Dairy Sustainability website was created to share best practices and promote environmentally focused initiatives that can help improve the performance of the world-wide dairy industry. The site is part of a global dairy industry effort aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

    The site was launched immediately after seven dairy organizations signed a Global Dairy Agenda for Action. This industry declaration to reduce carbon emissions was approved during the World Dairy Summit in Berlin, Germany. The signing organizations pledged their commitment to addressing climate change.

    The new website hosts information regarding sustainable dairy activity happening all over the world. One major initiative is the “Green Paper,” a project to catalog online initiatives that show both improvements that have already been made and that may be in-progress throughout the dairy supply chain. More than 260 initiatives and case studies are cataloged under the six primary areas of emissions reductions, energy efficiency, transport efficiency, reduction in loss of milk, resource efficiency and life cycle analysis and management.

    Learn more about the Global Dairy Agenda for Action by visiting www.dairy-sustainability-initiative.org/Public/.


      CRP Payment Update
    USDA will distribute approximately $1.7 billion in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) rental payments to participants across the country in fiscal year 2010, according to a recent USDA announcement.

    Producers holding about 758,000 contracts on 424,000 farms will receive an average of $51.52 per acre. The number of contracts is higher than the number of farms because producers may have multiple contracts on a single farm. The payments allow producers to earn an average of $4,104 per farm enrolled in the program.

    Included in the totals are 391,000 contracts, approximately 4.4 million acres, for CRP's continuous sign-up and 369,000 contracts, approximately 29.4 million acres, for general sign-up. Under continuous sign-up, producers may enroll high priority conservation practices, such as filter strips, riparian buffers and wetland restorations at any time.

    Currently, enrollment stands at approximately 31 million acres. This voluntary program helps agricultural producers safeguard environmentally sensitive land. Producers enroll in CRP and plant long-term, resource-conserving covers to improve water quality, control soil erosion and enhance habitats for waterfowl and wildlife. In return, USDA provides producers with annual rental payments. CRP contract duration is from 10 to 15 years.

    USDA issues other CRP payments throughout the year. These payments include a 50% expense reimbursement for establishing and managing cover as well as incentive payments for enrolling eligible high priority conservation practices. See a table listing CRP enrollment by state, number of contracts, number of farms, acres enrolled and CRP projected rental payments for fiscal year 2010 online at www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet.

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      Money Approved for the Mississippi Basin
    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced a new initiative to improve water quality and the overall health of the Mississippi River Basin in taped remarks to the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force meeting in Des Moines, IA. The Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) will provide approximately $320 million over the next four years for voluntary projects in priority watersheds located in 12 key states. Participation in this initiative, which will be managed by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will be made available through a competitive process for potential partners at the local, state and national levels. The states include Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

    The natural capacity of the Mississippi River Basin to remove nutrients has been diminished by a range of human activities over the years, including modification of flood plains for agricultural and urban land. MRBI will help agricultural producers implement conservation and management practices that avoid, control and trap nutrient runoff. The initiative is performance oriented, which means that measurable conservation results are required in order to participate. By focusing on priority watersheds in these 12 states in the basin, USDA, its partner organizations, state and local agencies, and agricultural producers will coordinate their resources in areas requiring the most immediate attention and offer the best return on the funds invested.

    Read more about the initiative online at www.usda.gov/wps/portal. Secretary Vilsack's announcement can be viewed online at: www.youtube.com/watch.


      Pork Industry Names Environmental Stewards
    Four U.S. pork operations were recently named 2009 Pork Industry Environmental Steward award winners by the Pork Checkoff and National Hog Farmer magazine. The recipients include JAC Pork, Hartley, IA, Schafer Farms, Goodhue, MN, Bryant Worley Farms, Princeton, NC, and Sensenig Farm, Mohnton, PA.

    A panel of judges made up of pork producers and representatives of environmental organizations reviewed applications and evaluated each farm’s manure management systems, water and soil conservation practices, odor control strategies, farm aesthetics and neighbor relations. Applicants also had to submit an essay on the meaning of environmental stewardship. Judges looked at the innovative ideas each farm was putting into practice to protect the environment.

    Award recipients will receive recognition at the 2010 National Pork Industry Forum, held in March in Kansas City, MO.

    The Sept. 15, 2009 issue of National Hog Farmer magazine featured the newly named Environmental Stewards of the pork industry. Read more about the environmentally friendly practices being implemented by each farm online at nationalhogfarmer.com/. Nominations for the 2010 award are due by March 31. Nomination forms are available at: www.pork.org.

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    NHF Weekly Preview provides pork producers in the United States and Canada with weekly analysis of items that will impact their business. NHF Weekly Preview is brought to you from the editors of National Hog Farmer.

      Webcast Targets Grazing and Water Quality
    The Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center offers an Oct. 16 webcast addressing Grazing Management for Water Quality Protection. Presenters will look at how producers can use the behavior of animals when designing a grazing management system. The presenters will also discuss waterborne pathogens and ways to prevent their movement to water bodies.

    The webcast takes place at 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Oct. 16. On the day of the webcast, participants can log onto the webcast at www.extension.org to download the speakers’ presentations and connect to the virtual meeting room. First-time viewers should also follow the steps at www.extension.org/pages/How_Do_I_Participate_in_a_Webcast%3F.


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