Mlsna East Town Dairy began treating their manure on November 21, 2016. This farm consists of 2,250 dairy cows with a flush water system that constantly flows through the barns to collect manure, which is then pumped out to their lagoon. The farm has a two-stage lagoon system that consists of a three million gallon settling basin and a 13 million gallon lagoon. The manure solids settle in the settling basin while the liquid portions gravity-flow to the larger lagoon once the established capacity is met.
The main reason that Mlsna East Town Dairy wanted to treat their manure was to help control odors. The farm was experiencing heavy loads of hydrogen sulfide two to three times per week during the summer period and the owner wanted to reduce the odors and occurrences to help with public appearance as well as employee safety. Since odor was the main concern, treatment began on a weekly basis directly into the flush water system to help reduce odors in the barn and the lagoons.
Within the first four weeks of treating manure at this site, both the owner and his employees, noticed that the odors were markedly less in comparison to a few weeks earlier. Odor reduction continued throughout the rest of the winter and well into the spring. Once temperatures increased towards late spring and early summer, some of the odors returned. Further investigation revealed that odor occurrences happened approximately once per week to once every-other week (compared to two to three times per week the previous year). The odor intensity was also reduced by 33 to 50 percent in comparison to the prior year.
During the summer months, it became apparent that microbial action was working as evidenced by the crust beginning to form on the manure surface in the settling basin. In addition to the crust formation, the constant digestion of the bacteria in the lagoon was obvious from the numerous foaming bubbles present in the manure. By the end of July, a measurable crust was present over the settling basin while the larger lagoon remained completely liquid. By September, the crust had grown to a depth of nearly four feet and resembled heaving icebergs.
In October, at pump-out, an agitation boat was brought in to help break up the crust that had formed as well as to remove any bottom solids that remained in the settling basin. After breaking up the crust on top of the settling basin, the manure in this lagoon remained in a liquid state and was easily pumped out into the tanker trucks. The agitation boat operator noted the lack of any solids coming up from the bottom. He mentioned that in 2016, they used the boat to remove chunks of bottom solids the size of vehicles, whereas, this year nothing came to the surface. I mentioned to the boat operator that the bacteria in the manure treatment products were working as designed since they were supposed to not only take care of the odors as initially desired, but also to remove the solids from the bottom of the lagoon. By removing the solids from the bottom, those same solids tended to accumulate at the surface, which created the nearly four foot thick crust that formed throughout the year.
The pump operator noted that this was one of the least odorous lagoons that they had pumped out of so far during the 2017 season. He also noted that the consistency of this manure was not only better than in previous years, but also better than expected as the area had received record rainfalls during the 2017 cropping season. While he expected the first several loads to mainly be water with the last remaining loads so thick that they wouldn’t be able to pump it into the tanker trucks, this was not the case. The bacteria had done their job and were able to keep the solids off the bottom and the agitators were better able to keep those solids in suspension while pumping into the trucks.
During the several weeks of pump-out, I observed the operations and walked around the entire lagoon system taking note of the amount of solids present and the amount of odor given off during agitation and pump-out. A definite reduction in solids was evident by simply looking at the sidewalls, which showed only signs of remaining sand bedding. Virtually, no odors were detected from either lagoon during these operations or the fields after application.
Overall, the manure treatment on this farm was a great success and the farm owner has continued treating his manure with ProfitProAG’s manure treatment products.
Friendshuh Farms consists of 900 dairy cows with a flush water system that constantly flows through the barns to collect manure, which is later pumped out to their lagoon. The storage system on this farm consists of a concrete-lined outdoor lagoon with a capacity of approximately seven million gallons. This lagoon is completely emptied twice per year, which means that manure is only in the lagoon for a total of six months at any given time.
Manure treatment started May 12, 2017, for several reasons: better odor control, solids reduction, better consistency during pump-out and better agronomic value (i.e. better nutrient retention and reduced salt content). Since odor control was one of the main objectives during this treatment period, it was decided that treatment would occur on a weekly basis by treating the flush water to reduce some of the odors present in the barn.
After the first couple months of treatment the owner called to inform me that a crust was beginning to form. He was concerned since he has never had a crust form before and wanted to make sure it was normal. I assured him it was one of the typical processes when manure pits contain a fair amount of solids on the bottom.
Upon arrival at the farm, it was evident that the odors had already been reduced after only two months of treatment. Once we got to the lagoon, it was clear that the top crust was a definite result of the bacteria working on the solids in the bottom of the lagoon. The entire lagoon looked like a hot tub with the bubbling jets! The owner said that every morning he was able to see the bubbles overtake the lagoon. This was a very good sign that the lagoon was becoming biologically active and things were headed in the right direction. This was exactly what we had expected, and the crust was a normal part of the process.
As the summer progressed, the owner and I communicated about the condition in the lagoon and each time he said odor control was better as was the biological activity in the lagoon itself. In October, and after the corn silage was harvested, it was time for pump-out. The owner hired a custom operator to agitate and pump the manure through draglines to inject the manure in the fields. After a few days of pumping the manure, it was obvious to both the owner and the custom manure operator that this manure was different from last year.
Both individuals noted that the agitation boat was not removing any solids from the bottom like it had a year ago. I explained to them that the crust that had formed earlier was likely from all of the solids that were on the bottom and had floated to the top to form that crust. This was evident by looking at the sidewalls of the lagoon – there was nothing on them. The concrete was free from any solids remaining on them, which would otherwise have to be scraped off after pumping.
Both the owner and operator also noted that the consistency of the manure seemed to be very uniform compared to past years. The first couple days were similar to the last few days, meaning that they weren’t getting mostly water at the beginning of pump-out and mainly solids at the end. In addition to this, the pump operator noted that this was one of the least odorous lagoons that they have pumped out during the 2017 season.
Overall, the farm owner was very happy with how the manure treatment worked this year, especially since it only had six months to work. He plans to track any yield difference of the crops grown on the acres that were covered with the treated manure next year.
Breu-Kal Farms is a beef operation that consists of two barns – grower and finisher, both with 500,000 gallon capacity manure pits directly beneath the barns. Although the accumulating manure volume is relatively small and only emptied once per year, it is difficult to agitate due to the pit location. Therefore, solids in these pits are much more problematic to overcome due to the lack of designated agitation sites. Odor was another concern.
In 2015 and 2016, monthly manure treatment only occurred during the second half of the year due to scheduling conflicts, thus, only six months of treatment was applied for each of these two years. Additionally, older treatment technology was used simply for the fact that ProfitPro had not developed its current manure treatment technologies.
Before treatment, it required nearly 45 minutes at each of the four agitation sites in the barns. After treatment, a definite difference in both odor occurred with agitation time reduced to 35 minutes per site.
In 2016, odor continued to decrease and the crust that normally formed each year was about half as thick. During pump-out, agitation time was again decreased to 20 minutes per site.
In 2017, ProfitPro launched two new technologies – Manure Master Plus™ and Pit Accelerator™. Treatment started at Breu-Kal farms in January. This was the first time that the manure treatment started in January and allowed for a full 12 months of treatment. From January through May, there was virtually no odor inside the barns or around the farm. Unlike past years, it was also evident that the manure in both pits was completely liquid.
Warmer temperatures in June precipitated a small odor increase. It was determined that the absence of a crust in the pits produced some off-gassing. Previously, the crust had covered the surface of the pit, which didn’t allow any gases to escape from underneath until agitation. Since the manure remained in a liquid state this year, a small amount of gas escaped. The owner ranked the odor as a “one” during the winter months on a scale of 1-10 (one being no odor and 10 being unbearable), and during the summer around a “two.”
As a remedy, a small amount of the granular product, Manure Conditioner™, was added. After application, the owner was gone for two weeks. Upon his return, the small amount of odor had dissipated. It was decided to utilize the Manure Conditioner next year during the hot summer months to help offset any off-gassing.
This fall (2017) during agitation and pump-out, the owner noted it was more liquid than ever before and was the thinnest crust that he had seen since he built the manure pit. As they moved the agitator from site to site in the barn, it became apparent that they had significantly reduced agitation time to 15 minutes to get the manure moving. He was very pleased as he had never been able to agitate and spread manure on the same day.