IMMAG Updates

June 2015

Welcome to the monthly update for the Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) Web site. This update is provided as a service to inform you about changes made to the IMMAG Web Page or items of interest dealing with manure management and air quality from animal feeding operations. If you wish to subscribe to this mailing please click here. You may also view this update with direct links on the CURRENT NEWS site on IMMAG.

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Aerosol Particles of PEDV in Manure

photo  Filling a manure tanker.

Soon after the emergence of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) questions about the ability of this virus to live and be transported in the manure became of topic of concern. Since then research (Dr. Tousignant, University of Minnesota Swine Disease Eradication Center) has shown that the virus can remain viable for at least four months in the pit, meaning movement of the virus to from farm-to-farm with our manure equipment could be an issue. Because of this it is important to remain committed to following proper biosecurity - washing and disinfecting your equipment and vehicles, clean clothes and boots at every farm, establishing and following lines of separation, etc. (for more information see Biosecure Manure Pumping Protocals for PED Control).

Newer studies are looking to take this work a step further as researchers at Michigan State University are looking at the potential for aerosol particles created during manure pumping to transport virus-contaminated manure as well as the potential to of these particles to infect pigs. One way to think of this is by comparing it to sprayer drift; how much drift can occur and still not have our spray impact our neighbors field. With the PED virus the question is similar, what size aerosols take the particles the farthest. Once they know that, technologies to minimize these aerosols can be developed. The full article can be found here.


Maintaining Your Manure Storage
photo - Evaluating the load-out area of a SlurryStore.

Proper management and maintenance is necessary to prevent manure from overflowing or discharging from a storage system. Whether the manure storage is in an earthen tank, a slurry store, or a deep pit, the basic principles to maintaining and managing the storage structure are similar. In any case, frequent evaluation and preventative maintenance will significantly reduce your risk and keep your manure where you want it.

  1. Monitor the operating level of your manure storages. Have a staff gauge or a method for determining how much manure is already in your storage. Keeping track of how much manure is there can give insight into if you have enough capacity to make it to your next land application window.  If you are worried you may run short this will give you an early opportunity to evaluate how you are going to handle the situation when your storage gets full. Monitoring the level can also alert you to if anything unexpected is occurring, for instance, your manure storage isn’t filling up or filling up really quickly because of a water leak or outside drainage water getting in.
  2. Visual structure inspection. A quick look over the storage can tell you a lot about how your structure is holding up - as you walk around pay close attention to inlet points, connections, and where the sidewalls connect to the base. To make this easier make sure you are mowing around your storage and cutting down trees, watching for animal burrows, and making sure clean water is being diverted around your manure storage structure.
  3. Odor evaluation. I know odor can be a stink of a topic, but it’s something we have to deal with. Make it a part of your routine to go around your farm once a week and make a note of the odor intensity and what neighbors may be smelling. Unfortunately there usually are not easy fixes, but for those of you interested in learning more about potential odor options check out AMPAT.
  4. Safety check. We all recognize there are some safety challenges to working in and around manure storage systems. Take the time to review your safety protocols and update as needed. Taking the time to go over them will remind everyone that they are important and there to protect us. While you are at it make sure to check any fences, escape ladders, and warning signs you have posted to make sure they are still in good shape and readable.

Assessing your Manure Application - Scouting now to evaluate last fall

photo - Evidence of streaking (color variation) in a cornfield.It may seem like forever ago when we were applying manure to our fields, but the manure we applied last fall is an important fertility source that has to feed our crops throughout the spring and summer. While applying in the fall there are many things we have to do correctly to make sure the manure gives us the maximum benefit. We need put it on fields where all the nutrients (the N, the P, and the K) will be of value, make sure it is injected or incorporated quickly so we retain the nitrogen, identify the right soil and weather conditions to limit compaction, and the list goes. Of course, we also have to do this quickly as we need to get the manure on before the ground freezes.

Just as importantly, much of the information about how well the manure application went can’t be seen until our crops are growing the next spring. Sure, we might be able to see a spill or tell if we were not getting good coverage of our manure injection slit, but most of the information on if we were getting good, uniform application over the field can’t be seen; however, they do tend to show up in the spring and early summer of the following growing season. Some of the problems can be very visual, so a good picture or walk through the field can help assess if there are any issues in your manure application system.

A good way to start is by looking for regular or consistent patterns within the field. Do these inconsistencies run with the rows of the crops, with the direction the manure was applied in, or a different direction? Human induced issues tend to occur in more discrete, regular patterns while biological or soil type related issues tend to be more irregular in shape or follow the lay of the land.

One of the most common issues is where we run out of manure on a pass. In an ideal world this wouldn’t happen, we’d always have the perfect amount to make complete passes with our tankers, but in the real world things don’t always work out that way. This means we sometimes have to start and stop application within an application pass. To make sure we don’t have an area we miss, we have to overlap a little bit. This used to be a huge challenge, and while GPS is certainly helped address this concern there is still a delay from when you turn the applicator on until it reaches the desired application rate, so misses or light application areas can sometimes happen. Scouting your field for these areas can help identify if this is an issue with your equipment.

Another problem we sometimes see is streaking across the field. This is typically caused by some unevenness in nutrient, especially nitrogen, application. It is one of the key reasons for trying to obtain a uniform spread pattern with the manure. It is sometimes difficult to get the right rate per acre, let alone get even distribution across those acres. At other times the streaking may be less pronounced and only occur in isolated locations, potentially because one or two injectors became plugged. Checking over your fields for this streaking can help determine if you have a good handle on the effective spread pattern of your applicator.


The March 1 deadline for renewing your manure application certificate has come and gone, so if you are a commercial manure applicator and were licensed in 2014, you will have to pay the late fee of $12.50 in addition to the regular certification fees.  If you are a confinement site applicator who is renewing your license in 2015, you will also have to pay the late fee in addition to the regular certification fees.  All new applicators (not previously certified) or confinement site applicators completing continuing education for their 3-year license do not have to pay the late fees.  If you missed training opportunities in January or February your two options to meet certification requirements remain 1) contacting your County Extension Office to make an appointment to watch the appropriate training video; or 2) contacting your local DNR field office to schedule an appointment to take the certification exam. All certification requirements must be met prior to applying manure. Additionally, to make your training opportunities more convenient you will soon have an opportunity to take the course on-line, look for more details in the next IMMAG newsletter.


The IMMAG Events page is a compilation of manure management related events. Please check the events page often for new listings.

Iowa Swine Day is being held on June 25 in the Scheman Building in Ames, IA. This is a gathering of leading experts who focus on topics vital to today’s pork industry. The morning will have sessions on the world protein outlook, communicating with the public, and audit issues, while in the afternoon there are options about learning more about PDEV and emerging diseases, a session on Hot topics (euthanasia, new feed regulations), and hearing about what is new in research at Iowa State University. More information and a registration link are available here.

North American Manure Expo will be held in Chambersburg, PA on July 14-15, 2015.  The theme this is “Manure Than You Can Handle.” The two-day event will consist of tours on the 14th and vendor displays, educational opportunities, and manure technology demonstrations on the 15th. For more information or to register for the event go to; additional details are also available on their Facebook page. Also, as part of the tradeshow there will be some companies offering some educational “schools” to help you make informed manure equipment decisions and the trade.

There will be a Crop Management Clinic on July 14-15 at the Field Extension Education Laboratory outside of Ames. Registration opens at 8:30 and the program begins at 9:00. This year’s program focuses on crop management, pest management, nutrient management, and soil and water management and qualifies for 13 continuing education credits for Iowa Certified Crop Advisers (subject to approval). More information can be found here.

Are you interested in learning more about RUSLE2? On July 21 at 1PM the USDA NRCS will be holding a webinar entitled “Overview of Tillage Implements for use in RUSLE2 Calculations” with the focus of the webinar on new implements as well as manure and pesticide incorporation. More information is available here.


Angie Rieck-Hinz
(515) 231-2830
Twitter: @iowamanure

Dan Andersen
(515) 294-4210
Twitter: @DrManure

Iowa Manure Management Action Group

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