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


Most people understand that anaerobic digesters produce a biogas that can be used to create power (usually in the form of electricity). But few realize that farmers seldom install digesters primarily for this reason – if at all.

More often than not, farmers install a digester to enhance their nutrient management plan, as well as control odours, destroy pathogens, kill weed seeds, etc.

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University of Guelph are investigating greenhouse gas production on dairy farms, focusing on determining practical ways to reduce emissions.

Titled “Farm-scale assessment of greenhouse gas mitigation strategies in dairy livestock-cropping systems,” the project’s goal is to develop the best management practices that can be recommended to producers.

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To spread or not to spread? That is the age-old question. One that I recently answered. I was a participant in the Progressive Dairy Operators Youth Workshop Series.

It is a six-day business course for dairy producers between 25 and 35 years old. The final day was filled with presentations by class members based on a specific topic covered in one of the previous lessons.

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Manure handling is an important aspect of farm management and is a combination of good barn hygiene and the preparation of manure for field fertilisation.

It is a great resource for farming and should be considered fundamental in farming and cropping, especially if we consider that the average manure production of a milking cow can vary from 0.35 to 1.25 metres cubed of manure a month.

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Not all manure is conveyed equally, so to speak, because not all manure is subjected to the same environmental conditions after being “deposited” on the alley floor.

One of those conditions is bedding, especially where sand bedding is concerned. Whereas non-sand-laden manure can be conveyed using gravity flow in large-diameter, flat pipes or stirred up and pumped long distances using centrifugal pumps, sand-laden manure cannot reliably over the long term.

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In recent years dairy farms have grown in size and efficiency. When more livestock are housed in one location, the volume of stored manure and the manure hauling distance to reach the land base needed for application also increase.

Manure agitation, pumping, transport and land application typically cost $100 to $160 per cow per year for a Michigan dairy farm. Because hauling and land application greatly impact labour needs and must align with tillage and planting plans, many farm managers are custom-hiring manure-hauling services.

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