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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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As one of the stops on the Progressive Dairy Operators’ (PDO) mini-bus tour in September, Athlone Farms Inc. opened its doors to allow visitors a look at its most recent expansion.

Instead of building another barn and hoping to purchase enough quota to fill it, Brian and Wendy Anderson, along with their son-in-law and daughter, Dennis and Heather Peters, and their son, Alex Anderson, opted to build an aerobic digester and start another business entity under the name Athlone Bio Power Inc.

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Manure handling in the barn is really important for barn and herd management:

Dairy cows that are clean and comfortable may profit more from their genetic potential and be less easily hit by environmental pathogens such as heel warts and mastitis.

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In an effort to reduce nutrient losses from manure applied to cropland, a number of best management practices have been created.

They were crafted using the best available information at the time and, ever since, researchers continue to analyze if they are the best or if they could be better.

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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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