She is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autism activist, a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior and the inventor of the “hug box“, a device to calm those on the autism spectrum. In the 2010 Time 100list of the one hundred most influential people in the world, named in the “Heroes” category, and she was the subject of the award-winning, biographical film, Temple Grandin.
When asked how autism helps her connect in a unique way to animals? She answered:
“Autism helped me understand animals because I think in pictures. Since animals do not have language, their memories have to be sensory-based instead of word-based. In my early animal behavior work, I noticed that cattle often balked and refused to walk over shadows or pass a coat hung on a fence. In the 1970s, it was a new idea to look at things that cattle were seeing.
There is scientific evidence that animals think in pictures, and that this learning is very specific. When an animal is trained to tolerate one type of activity, it does not easily transfer to another similar activity. For example, habituating a horse to tolerate the sudden opening of an umbrella does not transfer to a flapping tarp. Animals often get specific fear memories that are associated with aversive events. A horse that had alcohol thrown in its eyes during a veterinary procedure became afraid of black cowboy hats. A white cowboy hat was safe and a black hat was scary. He was looking at a black cowboy hat when the alcohol was thrown.”
Dr. Grandin has been a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals. Facilities that she has designed for handling livestock are used by many companies around the world, and she has been instrumental in implementing animal welfare auditing programs that are used by some of the biggest companies in the world including McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Whole Foods to name a few. She has appeared on numerous TV shows such as 20/20. Larry King Live, and Prime Time and written a number of books including Thinking in Pictures, Livestock Handling and Transport and The Autistic Brain. Her book Animals in Translation has been on the New York Times Bestseller List.
Dr. Grandin has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute, named a Distinguished Alumni at Franklin Pierce College and received an honorary doctorate from McGill University, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duke University. She has also won prestigious industry awards including the Richard L. Knowlton Award from Meat Marketing and Technology Magazine and the Industry Advancement Award from the American Meat Institute and the Beef Top 40 industry leaders and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In 2011, Temple was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. In 2015 she was given the Distinguished Service Award by the American Farm Bureau Federation and Meritorious Award from the OIE. HBO has premiered a movie about Temple’s early life and career with the livestock industry. The movie received seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. In 2016, Temple was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2017 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. She was also made a fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018.
To find out more about Dr. Grandin’s work and advocacy, we encourage you to can visit her official autism website, and the other to learn more about livestock behavior and facility design. Dr. Grandin’s one of a kind brilliant mind has made her one of the most influential advocates of her time, and it is an honor to highlight her as one of the most inspirational women in our International Women’s Month feature.
Shauna Curry is the CEO of CAWST, a Canadian charity and licensed engineering firm that addresses the global need for safe drinking water and sanitation. CAWST teaches people how to get safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in their own homes, using simple, affordable technologies.
Shauna has travelled to 14 different developing countries on a mission to help people achieve clean water in their communities. Shauna started at CAWST in 2004 as a Global WASH Advisor before becoming the head of CAWST’s global training and consulting services a year later.
Taking over as CEO in 2011, this incredible woman knows her stuff when it comes to water. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Bio-resource Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan.
We celebrate the work that Shauna and her team are doing, not only as part of our International Women’s Month campaign, but today especially on World Water Day!
Jane Sherborne is a generational dairy farmer whose farming roots go back at least six generations in both Northern Ireland and Germany. She is so deeply rooted in dairy that some may even say that she has milk running through her veins. Jane’s passion for dairy farming started on her family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin, where she fondly remembers helping (or perhaps hindering) her dad with the daily farm chores. Jane’s family legacy is strong in Wisconsin where generations ago her great grandmother’s family were the original builders of octagonal barns that you still see today. Growing up Jane would dream of one day having her own family farm. Today she lives in New South Wales, Australia – the land of big skies, interesting animals, and sunburns – where her dream has come true.
While dabbling in several careers throughout her life, Jane now plays an active role on her own dairy where she farms with her husband and three children. She also plays an integral role in the Australian dairy industry where she has held titles of Member, Director, and Chairman for various associations at one time or another. She says, “it has not always been easy, as a female, but that just makes me work harder, smarter and be more determined.”
She believes that dairy farmers are responsible for producing a product that meets market requirements while also controlling supply. This ensures not to devalue the industry, the animals, the people whose livelihoods depend on the industry, or the resources it takes to produce healthy and nutritious milk. Jane knows that having a long-term focus on sustainability supports prosperity for the entire industry.
Jane and her family are committed to educating and promoting the dairy industry. For over a decade they have been involved in the Cows Create Careers project where they answer questions about careers in the dairy industry and share their overall passion for farming. Jane says, “they may not get a job in dairy, but they learn to respect and appreciate the liquid gold that we produce!”
While dairy farming looks quite different for Jane today in Australia compared to what it looked like growing up 10,000 miles away in Wisconsin, a few things do remain constant. “It is truly a blessing to farm every day with my family, and it is a gift to see our hard work thrive in the health and happiness of our animals” she says.
Throughout the month of March we will be celebrating the strong, resilient, and courageous women who inspire us everyday. We hope you will join the conversation by celebrating the women who inspire you too!
Meet Katie Sattazahn. Like so many women, dairy farming is in Katie’s blood. Katie grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania before going on to Pennsylvania State University to study animal science. Today, Katie and her husband’s family manage 280 cows and associated youngstock at Zahncroft Dairy, a multiple generation dairy farm outside of Reading, PA.
Katie is extremely passionate about dairy farming and is dedicated to maintaining the legacy of the family farm.
When asked why she does what she does, Katie replied: “People need nourishing food and dairy meets that criteria as a highly nutritious food. We have the ability to produce a nutritious product that is affordable to consumers.” Producing healthy, nutritious food brings great pride to Katie, and like every other dairy farmer we know, the health of her animals is of utmost importance to her.
Zahncroft Dairy takes part in an educational program with schools where classrooms adopt a cow. The class is alerted when the calf is born, and the students follow along with that cow’s development throughout the school year. At the end of the year the class gets to live chat with Katie. It is evident just how passionate Katie is about connecting young consumers to the farm, while and educating them about the importance of dairy farming.
We are grateful for the work that Katie and her family do every day to produce nutritious and delicious food for our families, while simultaneously taking great care of the land and the animals in their trust.
Pictured above: Raechel, Doug, Katie and David, owners and operators of Zahncroft Dairy.
I am thrilled to continue our 2 part series on greenhouse gas emissions, most notably methane, with none other than the @ghgguru himself, Dr. Frank Mitloehner. Did you miss Part 1? If so you’re going to want to start there first!
Dr. Mitloehner is a Professor and Air Quality Specialist in Cooperative Extension in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. As we learned in Part 1 of this conversation, Dr. Mitloehner is an expert for agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry and conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations. His research includes the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities.
Jenkins: We saw an article that you shared about the EU considering meat tax to save the climate. What’s your take on that idea?
This is an idea of a minority at the moment and I think that Covid-19 will change everything. This virus is going to change us in such profound ways that we don’t even comprehend at this point.
People are going to the supermarket and for the first time in their lives they are seeing a supply chain problem. All of the sudden the things that we have always been able to buy simply aren’t there.
I think people will come to the realization that it’s not just the health sector that is really critical to a nation’s sustainability but that it is particularly the food sector. I think if we play it right and agriculture really toots it’s horn about it’s role in providing the food that we all need during this current crisis, I think there could be a change in the appreciation people have for agriculture and in particular animal agriculture.
When you go to the supermarket these days, you will see that it’s the beef, dairy, eggs, etc. that they are flying off the shelves! Then go take a look at how well the plant-based alternatives are doing… they are not flying off the shelves.
I hope that we begin to question how society treats animal agriculture overall. How much more regulations are people willing to put up with? Are the financial margins high enough for people to maintain in business? When we are tossing large amounts of milk, and there are high prices for meat in the super market yet the farmers are getting paid very little, when there is a strong demand but for some reason the revenue that is generated does not get back to the people who are producing the food…. that is a major problem. Farmers do not get paid for the work they do. They are not getting appropriate compensation.
I am very interested to see how all of this plays out, and whether or not this pandemic will actually change people’s perception of what’s really important in life.
Jenkins: Speaking of the pandemic, with industry and work commuting drastically reduced around the world, we have started to hear stories of how this may positively impact the planet. Do you think we will see a positive climate effect?
The impact that we are seeing is a short-term impact. We are seeing a reduction in emissions in different parts of the world that have been the most hard hit such as northern Italy and parts of China. As a result of the lock down, we are burning less fossil fuels and as a result we have fewer criteria pollutants such as NOx (Nitrogen oxides) SOx (sulfur oxides) volatile organic compounds such as carbon monoxide and so on… all of the gases that develop when you burn fossil fuels.
Once the lock downs are lifted, people will go right back to their former habits. They will return to their former work schedules and travel schedules and the reductions that we have seen will all be gone. Likely people will even overcompensate for being stuck at home.
Jenkins: If you wanted to clear up one important misconception about cows and emissions what would it be?
When a cow produces methane, that methane stays in the atmosphere for about 10 years. It is then destroyed by a process called hydroxyl oxidation. That’s a process that we’ve known about for a long time but it has never really entered the public discussion.
Hydroxyl oxidation destroys methane in about 10 years when it is converted back into CO2 again. So if methane has a lifespan of 10 years and CO2 has a lifespan of 1000 years, why would that be a good thing that methane is converted back into CO2 again?
The reason why the biogenic carbon cycle is a good thing, is because you are not adding new additional carbon to the atmosphere. What is happening is that you are actually recycling carbon. The carbon that becomes methane when the animal belches or when it comes out in her manure, that carbon that is in the methane originated in atmospheric CO2 and that’s what it will become again will become again once it is oxidized from animal methane.
This means that if you keep your livestock numbers constant, you are not adding any new additional carbon to the atmosphere and hence you are not adding any new additional warming. That is the part that is least understood by people who are critical of animal agriculture.
Biogenic methane is not new methane. It is not new carbon to the atmosphere, and hence it does not cause additional warming. This will take people, and the climate critics of animal agriculture, a little while to understand.
Jenkins: How can we help get this message out to the consumer?
This is a major challenge because it is a technical issue that is not easily explained or understood. I have colleagues at the University of Oxford in England, and colleagues in New Zealand among other places, who are proposing the use of a new way of accounting for methane from livestock: it’s called GWP*.
GWP*is a way of accurately describing the warming impacts of methane. If this were to gain traction, the world discussion around methane would change in a dramatic way. I think that it is very likely that this discussion will change because the way that it’s currently held is simply not accurate.
Imagine going to your bank and saying: “From now on, I will only talk about my income, I will no longer talk about my expense.” That is what we are doing with methane currently!
Right now we are only looking at one side of the budget: the sources of methane. We are leaving out sinks of methane even though they are almost balancing each other out, and that makes absolutely no sense. The sink processes are super strong and they must be accounted for. If they are not accounted for then the questions is why they are not being accounted for.
We have understood hydroxyl oxidation for a long time so why would we not account for that?
If we are truly concerned about warming, if we truly want to reduce our warming by 1½ degrees centigrade, if that is our true intent, then what is it that we need to quantify? What we need to quantify is the true warming impacts of methane sector and you cannot get those impacts by the units that are currently being used.
Picture this: The CO2 that is emitted by a power plant will stay in the atmosphere for 1000 years. If you start to increase this CO2 or decrease this CO2, all of the CO2 that you have already put out will remain in the atmosphere for a very long time. Now, if you reduce methane, that is a very different story. What we need to do with methane is not just look at how much methane is in the air right now, but we need to look at the rate of change for methane.
If we were to compare the methane production from the California dairy sector between the years 2000, 2010, and 2020, and we saw an increase, that would be a big problem. If the numbers were constant, the rate of change would be zero. Now, if our current methane emissions were lower today than what they were in 2010, that would mean that we have actually managed to pull out carbon from the atmosphere. That would mean that we have initiated a cooling process.
GWP* is the process by which we can assign an actual warming number to methane, and this can help us prove that animal agriculture could have a significant solution potential to climate problems… and that’s the direction that things are going.
Thank you Dr. Mitloehner for sharing your time and wisdom to help us better understand where we need to focus our attention for cleaner air and a healthy climate as it relates to animal agriculture while recognizing the important role animals plays in nourishing our world.
Here at the LWR Innovation Center, we know a lot about manure. In fact, we consider ourselves to be manure experts! But we aren’t experts on greenhouse gases and we’re on a mission to really understand the role that cows play when it comes to emissions.
We’ve all heard that animal agriculture creates greenhouse gas emissions. Have you also heard that cows that they can be part of a climate solution? With so many different messages, I decided to reach out to a real expert to help us understand the relationship between cows, carbon, and the climate… and what better timing than to do it on Earth Day!
This year the world celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The theme for 2020 is climate action and I am excited to share the exciting ways that animal agriculture can positively impact the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable.
Dr. Frank Mitloehner, aka @ghgguru on Twitter, is a Professor and Air Quality Specialist in Cooperative Extension in the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. He is an expert for agricultural air quality, livestock housing and husbandry and conducts research that is directly relevant to understanding and mitigating of air emissions from livestock operations. His research includes the implications of these emissions for the health and safety of farm workers and neighboring communities. Dr. Mitloehner is also director of the new CLEAR Center at UC Davis, which is focused on research and science communication.
He shared some of his wisdom with me last week, and it’s my pleasure to share that insight with you here.
Jenkins: First, I can help but want to understand why cows, in particular have been targeted in such a negative way?
Animal agriculture has been targeted by different groups for a long time. They are trying to use the climate argument to get consumers to disassociate from animal sourced foods. Most of the real, legitimate concern is around methane, and in particular ruminant livestock methane that is more potent than other greenhouse gases. They want to convince us that by simply consuming less animal sourced foods, that we can make large changes to the climate.
Jenkins:What factors should be included in the greenhouse gases that are attributed to livestock production?
When it comes to greenhouse gases from animal agriculture the most important one is methane. The second is nitrous oxide which not as well known to people but it is actually much more potent than methane. Nitrous oxide is emitted when you fertilize fields with both chemical and manure fertilizers.
But let’s talk about methane because that is the point of contention. Methane is 28 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. There is no question that methane is a potent greenhouse gas. In addition to its potency, there are other important differences between methane on the one side and nitrous oxide and CO2 on the other side. Mainly and most importantly, CO2 and nitrous oxide are long lived climate pollutants with a lifespan of hundreds to a thousand years. Once a molecule of CO2 or Nitrous Oxide enters the air, they stay there pretty much forever.
Methane, on the other hand, only has a lifespan of only 10 years. Methane is produced, but it is also destroyed, and here is where most people fall short when accounting for methane: they only account for the production of this gas, but not for the destruction of this gas, and when you do this beef and dairy look really bad because when you only look at the one side of the accounting sheet and not the other side then you get the wrong picture.
Critics of animal agriculture fall short in a drastic way. What they should do is look at the real warming potential of methane, and not just how much methane is emitted and can be expressed as CO2 equivalent.
By simply using a factor of 28 to calculate the CO2 equivalent of methane some have assumed that methane is 28 times worse than CO2 but in fact that has zero relevance to the actual warming impact of methane. The warming impacts are not being expressed by the current unit that is being used.
Imagine this: Worldwide, there are 560 terragrams of methane produced. That is a high number, and people take that number and say “see how bad it is?!” but…. While it is a high number, the part of the story that isn’t being told is that while it’s produced at a rate of 560 terragrams it is destroyed at a rate of 550 terragrams. The global net methane is not 560 but in fact it is only 10.
Atmospheric chemists have known this for a long time but they haven’t been a part of the methane conversation. If they were, it would really be a game changer. By only using the production numbers, we have seen public policy effected in a very negative and non-scientific way. Methane is important but it is currently not being characterized appropriated.
Jenkins: So what would happen if we could reduce methane?
If you keep methane constant by having constant cattle numbers without making any changes to manure management practices, or to reduce enteric emissions, the methane emitted by your cows will stay stagnant – constant – and will not add any additional new methane to the atmosphere because as those cattle emit methane, the same amount is being destroyed in the atmosphere. However, if you increase methane by adding new cows, then you drastically increase warming impact and we want to prevent that by all means.
Now, if you reduce methane from US animal agriculture by 10 to 20 percent you are actually pulling carbon out of the atmosphere, which leads to a net cooling effect, which results in global cooling which can counteract fossil fuel related warming impacts.
So by using a technology that reduces methane, that reduction correlates to a net cooling impact and that to me is so exciting and should be so exciting to companies such as yours.
Jenkins: Are there any methane solutions that you are particularly excited about?
Methane is produced in anaerobic conditions… whether that’s the ruminant of the cow or in the manure lagoon on the dairy. In those environments you have a drastic increase of methanogens that produce methane gas. If you want to reduce that, there are different technologies that are under development from an enteric methane perspective, there is a drug called 3NOP that has been very well researched and is a good successful candidate for enteric methane reductions.
From a manure methane reduction perspective, anaerobic digesters certainly have a major role to play – now whether that always makes economic sense is a different question. In California we have reduced methane from manure by 25 percent over the last two years largely through the use of anaerobic digesters which is something the dairy industry should be very proud of.
There are also alternative manure management practices that are being supported financially here in California by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Both anaerobic digesters and alternative manure management practices (including the LWR System) have received half a billion dollars of public funds over the last two years in California. People are quantifying the impacts of these technology and the public sector is supporting them.
Jenkins: How important is manure treatment in the greenhouse gas equation?
There is no doubt hat the short-lived climate pollutants such as methane have the most immediate impact on climate. It is because they are short lived that when you reduce them, you will see an immediate impact on climate.
It would be a wonderful thing if we could all stop emitting CO2, but the fact remains that the CO2 we have been emitting will still be in the atmosphere in 1000 years. Now if you reduce methane, that reduction will impact the climate immediately. and that’s why it’s such a big deal!
Jenkins: What do you say to people who say we should just go meatless?
I say that if someone feels better about eating a plant based diet than that’s their decision. Will it have a major impact on methane? The answer to that is no.
The demand for animal sourced foods is strong and it’s not being reduced at all through plant-based alternatives. The meat demand in the United States and Canada has been increasing while at the same time the demand for plant-based alternatives has also been increasing so we do not see that one is replacing the other.
Even if 10 or 20 percent of consumers switch over to a plant-based diet, that would have a minimal impact on our climate.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our conversation where Dr. Mitloehner will fill us in on one of the the biggest misconceptions about methane, and what the future has in store! In the meantime, be sure to follow @ghgguru on Twitter, and check out the GHG Guru’s blog!
When the Flies Show Up, Your Bottom Line Can Take a Serious Hit!
…and so can herd health, animal comfort, productivity and your comfort, too!
Summer is officially here which means it’s time to tackle the serious business of fly control. Flies can be a real challenge for livestock farmers and can cost the dairy and hog industries hundreds of millions of dollars in lost production each year.
Not only are they annoying to both the workers and the animals, flies really do have a significant effect on production efficiencies. Instead of resting and making milk, cows can easily expend their extra energy trying to fend off these pesky nuisances! Flies in the barn can decrease milk production, and increase medication costs, veterinary visits, and the threat of disease spreading… not to mention reduced farm worker productivity and the increased chance of having cranky neighbors.
A fly problem in your barns can wreak havoc on your herd. You’ll find the cows trying to get rid of the flies by shaking, rubbing and switching their tails which can raise both their heart and respiratory rates, and can also increase their body temperature causing heat stress. You might also find them grouping together, which can worsen their heat stress.
And then there’s the bites…
Fly bites can result in major economic losses to pig farmers. Irritation from biting flies can cause skin lesions or allergic reactions causing some pigs to be skinned at the abattoir. A skin from a finisher pig can weigh 17kg and the financial penalty can be as much as $34 per pig, as well as additional downgrades depending on the abattoir.
Back in the dairy barn, the nutrients that would normally go into milk production are diverted to replace blood loss from biting. There is also a risk of transmitting diseases such as mastitis, bacterial scours, and pink eye throughout the herd.
Research has been done on the actual production losses that relate directly to stable flies and it’s estimated that a dairy can lose:
306 lbs of milk per cow
13 lbs of body weight from preweaned calves
57 lbs of body weight from stocker cattle
When you add all of this up you get a grand estimated total of $360 million in lost production across the industry.
All flies pass through four life stages: egg, larva (maggot), pupa, and adult. During its life cycle, which is about 30 days, a house fly female can lay up to 1000 eggs. These eggs are deposited on moist manure or any decaying organic matter. The eggs hatch in 10 to12 hours and the maggots move into the wet manure. Fly maggots mature in 4 to 5 days under warm moist conditions. Pupation occurs in the drier parts of manure, with the adult flies emerging in 3 to 5 days. Under ideal conditions, a fly can complete its life cycle in 9 to 14 days.
So what’s the best way to deal with this pesky problem?
Flies love dirty, moist conditions and their favorite breeding ground is decaying organic matter and manure. It shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that when it comes to fly control, the best remedy is prevention, and the answer lies in a clean barn!
Flies deposit eggs in the top few inches of moist manure which means that minimizing the amount of moist manure surface area available to the fly is an excellent fly reduction strategy. The LWR System creates a dry solid from manure liquids to greatly reduce fly attraction areas.
It also helps keep your dairy clean and dry and gives producers the ability to sell segregated manure fertilizer promptly rather than stockpiling it.
Instead of dealing with the problem after it’s already a problem, you can solve it before it becomes a problem by treating your manure year round. With empty lagoons and clean lanes you also will lower their re-productivity and stop the flies before they start.
A barn with the LWR System is a barn without a manure problem, and a barn without manure problem is a barn without a fly problem!
Spring is the season of new life and new growth, and perhaps this year, a new way of looking at the same old manure. Changing up your manure application can help you avoid the potential yield loses associated with low fertility soils. If your feed crops take the biggest bite out of your budget, you are not alone. For many producers, saving money on feed crops would have significant impacts on their bottom line.
So how exactly is manure the answer to better feed crops?
Segregating manure into two separate fertilizers gives you more control over nutrient application. By separating the nitrogen, sulfur, & potassium into a liquid fertilizer while capturing the organic nitrogen and phosphorus in a solid fertilizer, not only will you save money, but you will ultimately end up with balanced soil conditions – and is there anymore more critical to crop production than healthy soils?!
Applying the solids free liquid fertilizer on fields close to the dairy will save you money without reaching nitrogen requirements. Drag lining the liquids close to the barns can cut the cost of hauling manure in half while dropping phosphorus levels in the soil. This practice will also eliminate the need to buy 28% commercial fertilizer!
By reducing the volume of the solid fertilizer, that now consists only of organic nitrogen and phosphorus, this can be hauled away to distant fields that have low phosphorus levels. Not only will this help to regenerate fallow fields, it can also increase corn yields by 3-5 tons per acre.
The LWR nutrient fertilizers were the subject of a growth trial competed by the Olds College Centre for Innovation. The research project evaluated the fertilizer outputs of the LWR System through a series of grow-tests.
The study tested the 2 fertilizer outputs of the LWR System and confirmed that the liquid fertilizer contains adequate amounts of nitrogen and trace minerals suitable for growing plants. The results also confirm that the liquid fertilizer is free of phosphorus, with lab analysis showing phosphorus levels at 0.0000%.
The Old’s study also determined that the nitrogen and potassium in the 50% LWR liquid manure fertilizer is more easily adsorbed by corn than when compared to a commonly used all-purpose plant food. Corn that was fed the all-purpose fertilizer absorbed 7.958% of input nitrogen and 9.105% of input potassium. When given the 50% LWR liquid solution, percentages of absorption increased to 22.87% and 24.98%, respectively.
The phosphorus that is removed from the liquid nutrient is captured in the dry solid fertilizer. In the dry solid growth test, it was found that when mixed at 25% with soil, corn had the highest recorded heights of all treatments when compared to commonly used all-purpose plant food. This indicates that under the correct mixing ratio, the LWR dry solid fertilizer supports the growth of corn.
Half of all agricultural land is currently used for the production of animal feed, and it is estimated that an additional 280 million hectares will be required to meet the future demand of animal production. This means that increasing the productivity of existing feed crops and regenerating fallow fields will have a tremendous effect on the future of food production.
Newtrient, a company founded by 12 leading milk cooperatives representing nearly 20,000 dairy farmers producing approximately half of the nation’s milk supply, knows the true value of manure – especially at this time of year. They know that the proper use of manure reduces the reliance on commercially mined fertilizers that often have to travel great distances. They also know that thoughtful use of manure will result in healthier soils, increased crop yields, and improved economics.
Increasing the productivity of feed crops through precision nutrient application is an imperative piece of this puzzle, and an exciting benefit of manure treatment technology. Remuneration will come in the form of elevated yields and possibly improved crop quality, especially forages. These returns are measurable and can be valued.
Check out Bucky Organics to learn more about the organic plant nutrients made daily by cows in Wisconsin, and the fertilizer benefits of segregated cow manure!
Soil is the basis for life as we know it. After all, 95% of the food we eat comes from our soils. Thankfully, livestock producers have always known this, and now consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of soil health.
The UN has warned us that the world’s soils are becoming exhausted. So depleted of nutrients that it is estimated that there are only 60 harvests left before our planet’s soils are too degraded to even support food production.
Soil supports life, and today, on World Water Day, it’s important to recognize that water is an essential component of soil health. The problem is that our soils have become so depleted that the soil simply can’t soak up water like it once did. Instead, water rushes off, leaving creeks and aquifers depleted, and contributing to water quality problems. The good news is that the spongy, thirsty soil can be brought back to life.
Soil scientists report that for every 1 percent of organic matter content, the soil can hold 16,500 gallons of plant-available water per acre of soil down to one foot deep. That is roughly 1.5 quarts of water per cubic foot of soil for each percent of organic matter. Increasing the organic matter content from 1 to 2 percent would increase the volume of water to 3 quarts per cubic foot of soil. One particular study also found that 1 pound of carbon can hold up to 40 pounds of water. In another study, it was found that increasing the water holding capacity of the soil by adding compost helped all crops during summer droughts by reducing periods of water stress.
Not only are healthy soils necessary to grow food, we need them to produce enough food to meet the growing demands of the largest population that has ever lived on our planet. Farmers need to achieve maximum efficiency and the only way that this is possible is with healthy soils.
Not surprisingly, the rates of nutrients found in the soil will affect the quality of the yield. Soil that is low in nutrients, will be, as a result, inefficient at growing healthy crops, so for centuries, farmers have turned to fertilizer. But just like not enough of something isn’t good, too much isn’t good either!
Excessive use of chemical fertilizers can lead to soil salinity, heavy metal accumulation, water eutrophication and the accumulation of nitrates which can lead to air pollution. Chemical fertilizers contain mineral salts that plant roots can absorb quickly, but these salts do not provide a food source for soil microorganisms. Over time, soil structure declines and so does its water holding capacity.
This is where the true value of manure comes in. When managed properly, manure can transform soil health and regenerate the fertility of a farmer’s fields with limited environmental and social risks.
Animal manure is a true soil “builder” because of its ability to improve soil quality. Compared to chemical fertilizers, manure properly applied to land has the potential to:
Increase soil carbon and micronutrient levels
Reduce soil erosion and runoff
Reduce nitrate leaching
Increase crop yields
Used as a natural fertilizer and soil conditioner, the micro-nutrients and micro-organisms that are essential to make soil healthy are found in treated manure. Healthy soils act as natural protectants of our groundwater supply, filtering out contaminants. Manure enzymes also increase bacteria and fungi and microbial activity, which is crucial to soil nutrient cycling and the decomposition of organic matter. Together, microbes and enzymes control the soil’s nutrient availability and organic matter quality and quantity. The microbes found in manure also decrease the abundance of harmful organisms, such as disease-causing pathogens and plant pests.
“The proper use of manure reduces our reliance on commercially mined fertilizers that often have to travel great distances. Ultimately, thoughtful manure use leads to healthier soils, increased yields, and improved economics.” Newtrient
Tune in next week when we talk about how healthy soils can increase crop productivity while decreasing feed crop costs.
Farm workers feed our families and as farmers strive for growth, efficiency and automation to stay competitive, so must they look for more ways to keep their employees safe and productive. Even on the most state of the art operation, farmers and farm workers are still at risk for injuries and in some cases, workplace fatalities. It is estimated that every single day, approximately 100 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury in the U.S., and according to UC Davis, agricultural injuries cost the U.S. an estimated $7.6 billion in medical and lost productivity costs.
Manure is a natural by-product of animal agriculture and it is a valuable crop fertilizer.
It can also be a gruesome hazard to employees.
Everyday risks associated with manure include tractors tipping into a manure pit, slips and falls in a dirty barn, and exposure to toxic gases including hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide and methane. The dangers related to manure on the farm are very real. The good news is that manure treatment can eliminate these deadly risks. With less manure to handle and more access to clean water, farms become both cleaner and safer for employees. Increased safety on the farm will result in a greater sense of achievement for employees which has been found to increase morale. This improved morale can lead to consistently maintaining a higher level of productivity.
Farm workers are valuable, and working conditions on the farm will impact many aspects of an employee’s productivity. It is common practice to make today’s modern barns animal friendly, but it is just as important for them to be employee friendly.
Clean barns will save you money!
While rates may vary, workers’ compensation coverage is required by all states and it can expensive. The good news is that farm owners play a big role when it comes to the amount of these premiums. Farms with good safety performance and return-to-work programs earn lower premium rates and in many cases, the option is available to reduce premiums through programs that create safer workplaces and encourage injury prevention. These premiums keep rising but producers can protect themselves against rising premiums by keeping claims to a minimum.
Equipment handling and exposure to raw manure pose some of the greatest safety risks to farm workers. By implementing manure treatment technology, barns will become cleaner. Clean environments are safe environments and better workplace safety leads to fewer claims. Fewer claims directly affect workers’ compensation rates and manure
Did you know that a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can lead to increased productivity?
The health of the environment isn’t the only concern when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the farm. Manure storage and land application produces greenhouse gases which can also negatively impact human health. Exposure to manure has been linked to psychological stress and adverse effects on the respiratory system and even heart function. When considering these risks, it is important to note that the LWR System can reduce ghg emissions by up to 80% which will have an immediate effect on air quality.
One way for livestock producers to improve long-term resilience and competitiveness is to implement manure treatment. When the volume of manure to be handled is dropped by 70%, there is less storage and more clean water which will translate into cleaner barns. By implementing the LWR System, producers are increasing workplace safety, decreasing insurance premiums, improving employee morale, and decreasing employee turnover; all of this combined will result in a positive impact on the bottom line.