Transforming Manure from ‘Waste’ to ‘Worth’ to Support Responsible Livestock Production in Nebraska

The University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) Animal Manure Management (AMM) Team has supported the environmental stewardship goals of Nebraska’s livestock and crop producers for many years using multiple traditional delivery methods, but recently recognized the need to more actively engage with clientele through content marketing activities. A current programming effort by the AMM Team to increase efficient manure utilization on cropland in the vicinity of intensive livestock production is the foundation for an innovative social media campaign.

What did we do?

content marketing plan
Figure 1. Content marketing plan to direct traffic to the AMM Team website.

While traditional extension outputs remain valuable for supporting the needs of clientele who actively seek out information on a topic, “content marketing” is a strategic tactic by which information is shared to not only attract and retain an audience, but to drive impactful action. Social media platforms are popular tools for delivery of current, research-based information to clientele; a key barrier to effectively using social media for content marketing by the project directors has been time. For instance, using Twitter efficiently requires regular attention to deliver messages frequently enough to remain relevant and to do so at times when user activity characteristics demonstrate the greatest opportunity for posts to be viewed and disseminated. Because this proved to be a challenge, a content marketing plan (Figure 1) was initiated using “waste to worth” as the topic of focus.

Three major components were identified as being critical to the success of the project (Figure 2): design of high-quality graphics that are tied to online content and resources and are suitable for use on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms; development of a content library containing packaged content (graphic + suggested text for social media posts) that is easy to navigate and available for partners to access and utilize; and development  of a communication network capable of reaching a broad audience.

Graphics

circles containing graphics, content library and communication network
Figure 2. Components identified for successful content marketing effort.

An undergraduate Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) student was recruited to support graphical content development using three basic guidelines: 1) Eye-catching but simple designs; 2) Associated with existing content hosted online; and 3) Accurate information illustrated Canva.com was utilized by team members  to design, review and edit social media content (Figure 3).

Content Library

Completed graphics are downloaded from Canva as portable network graphics (*.png) and saved to Box folders, by topic, using a descriptive title. When posting to social media, hashtags, mentions and links to other content help (a) reach users who are following a specific topic (e.g. #manure), (b) recognize someone related to the post (e.g. @TheManureLady) and (c) direct users to more content related to the graphic (e.g. URL to online article). For our content library, each graphic is accompanied by a file containing recommended text (Figure 4) that can be copied and pasted into Twitter or Facebook.

content example graphics
Figure 3. Graphical content examples for the “waste to worth” project
content example with sample text
Figure 4. Sample text to accompany a related image when posting on social media

Communication Network

content distribution network diagram
Figure 5. Content distribution network diagram.

Disseminating our messages through outlets outside the University was identified as a critical aspect of achieving the widespread message delivery that was desired. As such, agricultural partners throughout Nebraska were asked to help “spread the word about spreading manure” by utilizing our content in their social media outputs, electronic newsletters, printed publications, etc. Partners in this project include nearly 30 livestock and crop commodity organizations, media outlets, agricultural business organizations, and state agencies in Nebraska (Figure 5).

The effort to distribute content through the established communication network was launched in September 2018. Each month, three to four graphics with accompanying text are placed in a Box file to which all partners in the distribution network have access. Partners are notified via e-mail when new content is released. Folders containing prior months’ releases remain available to allow partners to re-distribute previous content if they wish.

What we have learned?

Since launching, 34 partnering organizations (Figure 6) have helped disseminate content to 50,000+ producers, advisors, allied industry members, and related professionals each month. Invited media appearances (radio and television) by team members have increased substantially in the past six months. For instance, the Nebraska Pork Producers Association hosts a weekly “Pork Industry Update” on a radio station that is part of the Rural Radio Network. Team members have recorded numerous interviews for broadcast during this weekly programming spot.

parter organizations
Figure 6. Partner organizations contributing to content distribution.

Page views within the AMM Team’s website (manure.unl.edu) increased by 139% from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018. Additional analytics are being collected to better define routes by which traffic is reaching the AMM Team’s website.

Future Plans

A survey is being prepared for distribution to audiences targeted through this project to assess impacts of this effort on changes in knowledge and behavior related to responsible use of manure in cropping systems, recognition of the AMM Team as a trusted source for manure and nutrient management information in Nebraska, and quality of AMM Team outputs.

Author

Amy Millmier Schmidt, Associate Professor, Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), aschmidt@unl.edu

Co-authors

Rick Koelsch, Professor, Biological Systems Engineering and Animal Science, UNL

Abby Steffen, UG Student, Ag Leadership, Education and Communication, UNL

Additional Information

Sign up for monthly notifications about new content from the UNL Animal Manure Management team at https://water.unl.edu/newsletter. Follow team members and the AMM Team.

Animal Manure Management Team    Amy Schmidt

Twitter: @UNLamm    Twitter: @TheManureLady

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UNLamm/    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/TheManureLady/

 

Rick Koelsch

Twitter: @NebraskaRick

Acknowledgements

Funding sources supporting this effort include We Support Ag, the Nebraska Environmental Trust, and the North Central Sustainable Agricultural Research and Education (NC-SARE) program.

 

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2019. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth. Minneapolis, MN. April 22-26, 2019. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

USDA-NRCS and the National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) for Livestock and Poultry Operations

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Purpose

The National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool (NAQSAT) was developed as a first-of-its-kind tool to help producers and their advisors assess the impact of management on air emissions from livestock and poultry operations and identify areas for potential improvement related to those air emissions.

What did we do?

In 2007, several land-grant universities, with leadership from Michigan State University, began developing NAQSAT under a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). The initial tool included beef, dairy, swine, and poultry operations. A subsequent CIG project, with leadership from Colorado State University, made several enhancements to the tool, including adding horses to the species list. In 2015, USDA-NRCS officially adopted NAQSAT as an approved tool for evaluating air quality resource concerns at livestock and poultry operations. USDA-NRCS also contracted with Florida A&M University in 2015 to provide several regional training workshops on NAQSAT to NRCS employees. Six training workshops have been completed to date (Raleigh, NC; Modesto, CA; Elizabethtown, PA; Lincoln, NE; Richmond, VA; and Yakima, WA) with assistance from multiple NAQSAT development partners. Additionally, USDA-NRCS revised its comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) policy in October 2015 to make the evaluation of air quality resource concerns mandatory as part of CNMP development.

Snippet from website of the National Air Quality Site Assessment Tool

Group photo of team in field

Zwicke in class lecturing

Zwicke and group in animal housing facility

What have we learned?

NAQSAT has proven to be a useful tool for bench-marking the air emissions impacts of current management on confinement-based livestock and poultry operations. In the training sessions, students have been able to complete NAQSAT runs on-site with the producer or producer representative via tablet or smartphone technologies. Further classroom discussion has helped to better understand the questions and answers and how the NAQSAT results can feed into the USDA-NRCS conservation planning process. Several needed enhancements and upgrades to the tool have been identified in order to more closely align the output of the tool to USDA-NRCS conservation planning needs. NAQSAT has also proven to be useful for evaluating the air quality resource concern status of an operation in relation to the CNMP development process.

Future Plans

It is anticipated that the identified needed enhancements and upgrades will be completed as funding for further NAQSAT development becomes available. Additionally, as use of NAQSAT by USDA-NRCS and our conservation planning and CNMP development partners expands, additional training and experience-building opportunities will be needed. The NAQSAT development team has great geographic coverage to assist in these additional opportunities.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Greg Zwicke, Air Quality Engineer – Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Team, USDA-NRCS

Corresponding author email

greg.zwicke@ftc.usda.gov

Other authors

Greg Johnson, Air Quality and Atmospheric Change Team Leader, USDA-NRCS; Jeff Porter, Animal Nutrient and Manure Management Team Leader, USDA-NRCS; Sandy Means, Agricultural Engineer – Animal Nutrient and Manure Management Team, USDA-NRCS

Additional information

naqsat.tamu.edu

https://lpelc.org/naqsat-for-swine-and-poultry

https://lpelc.org/naqsat-for-beef-and-dairy/

Acknowledgements

C.E. Meadows Endowment, Michigan State University

Colorado Livestock Association

Colorado State University

Florida A&M University

Iowa Turkey Federation

Iowa Pork Producers

Iowa Pork Industry Center

Iowa State University

Iowa State University Experiment Station

Kansas State University

Michigan Milk Producers Association

Michigan Pork Producers Association

Michigan State University

Michigan State University Extension

National Pork Board

Nebraska Environmental Trust

Oregon State University

Penn State University

Purdue University

Texas A&M University

University of California, Davis

University of Georgia

University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science

University of Idaho

University of Maryland

University of Maryland Department of Animal and Avian Sciences

University of Minnesota

University of Missouri

University of Nebraska

USDA-ARS

Virginia Tech University

Washington State University

Western United Dairymen

Whatcom County (WA) Conservation District

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Manure Management Technology Selection Guidance

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Purpose

Manure is an inevitable by-product of livestock production. Traditionally, manure has been land applied for the nutrient value in crop production and improved soil quality.With livestock operations getting larger and, in many cases, concentrating in certain areas of the country, it is becoming more difficult to balance manure applications to plant uptake needs. In many places, this imbalance has led to over-application of nutrients with increased potential for surface water, ground water and air quality impairments. No two livestock operations are identical and manure management technologies are generally quite expensive, so it is important to choose the right technology for a specific livestock operation. Information is provided to assist planners and landowners in selecting the right technology to appropriately address the associated manure management concerns.

What did we do?

As with developing a good conservation plan, knowledge of manure management technologies can help landowners and operators best address resource concerns related to animal manure management. There are so many things to consider when looking at selecting various manure treatment technologies to make sure that it will function properly within an operation. From a technology standpoint, users must understand the different applications related to physical, chemical, and biological unit processes which can greatly assist an operator in choosing the most appropriate technology. By having a good understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of these technologies, better decisions can be made to address the manure-related resource concerns and help landowners:

• Install conservation practices to address and avoid soil erosion, water and air quality issues.

• In the use of innovative technologies that will reduce excess manure volume and nutrients and provide value-added products.

• In the use of cover crops and rotational cropping systems to uptake nutrients at a rate more closely related to those from applied animal manures.

• In the use of local manure to provide nutrients for locally grown crops and, when possible, discourage the importation of externally produced feed products.

• When excess manure can no longer be applied to local land, to select options that make feasible the transport of manure nutrients to regions where nutrients are needed.

• Better understand the benefits and limitations of the various manure management technologies.

Picture of holding tank

Complete-Mix Anaerobic Digester – option to reduce odors and pathogens; potential energy production

Picture of mechanical equipment

Gasification (pyrolysis) system – for reduced odors; pathogen destruction; volume reduction; potential energy production.

Picture of field

Windrow composting – reduce pathogens; volume reduction

Picture of Flottweg separation technology

Centrifuge separation system – multiple material streams; potential nutrient
partitioning.

What have we learned?

• There are several options for addressing manure distribution and application management issues. There is no silver bullet.

• Each livestock operation will need to be evaluated separately, because there is no single alternative which will address all manure management issues and concerns.

• Option selections are dependent on a number of factors such as: landowner objectives, manure consistency, land availability, nutrient loads, and available markets.

• Several alternatives may need to be combined to meet the desired outcome.

• Soil erosion, water and air quality concerns also need to be addressed when dealing with manure management issues.

• Most options require significant financial investment.

Future Plans

Work with technology providers and others to further evaluate technologies and update information as necessary. Incorporate findings into NRCS handbooks and fact sheets for use by staff and landowners in selecting the best technology for particular livestock operations.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Jeffrey P. Porter, P.E.; National Animal Manure and Nutrient Management Team Leader USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service

Corresponding author email

jeffrey.porter@gnb.usda.gov

Other authors

Darren Hickman, P.E., National Geospatial Center of Excellence Director USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service; John Davis, National Nutrient Management Specialist USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, retired

Additional information

References

USDA-NRCS Handbooks – Title 210, Part 651 – Agricultural Waste Management Field Handbook

USDA-NRCS Handbooks – Title 210, Part 637 – Environmental Engineering, Chapter 4 – Solid-liquid Separation Alternatives for Manure Handling and Treatment (soon to be published)

Webinars

Evaluation of Manure Management Systems – http://www.conservationwebinars.net/webinars/evaluation-of-manure-management-systems/?searchterm=animal waste

Use of Solid-Liquid Separation Alternatives for Manure Handling and Treatment – http://www.conservationwebinars.net/webinars/use-of-solid-liquid-separation-alternatives-for-manure-handling-and-treatment/?searchterm=animal waste

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Poultry Mortality Freezer Units: Better BMP, Better Biosecurity, Better Bottom Line.

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Purpose

Why Tackle Mortality Management?  It’s Ripe for Revolution.

The poultry industry has enjoyed a long run of technological and scientific advancements that have led to improvements in quality and efficiency.  To ensure its hard-won prosperity continues into the future, the industry has rightly shifted its focus to sustainability.  For example, much money and effort has been expended on developing better management methods and alternative uses/destinations for poultry litter.

In contrast, little effort or money has been expended to improve routine mortality management – arguably one of the most critical aspects of every poultry operation.  In many poultry producing areas of the country, mortality management methods have not changed in decades – not since the industry was forced to shift from the longstanding practice of pit burial.  Often that shift was to composting (with mixed results at best).  For several reasons – improved biosecurity being the most important/immediate – it’s time that the industry shift again.

The shift, however, doesn’t require reinventing the wheel, i.e., mortality management can be revolutionized without developing anything revolutionary.  In fact, the mortality management practice of the future owes its existence in part to a technology that was patented exactly 20 years ago by Tyson Foods – large freezer containers designed for storing routine/daily mortality on each individual farm until the containers are later emptied and the material is hauled off the farm for disposal.

Despite having been around for two decades, the practice of using on-farm freezer units has received almost no attention.  Little has been done to promote the practice or to study or improve on the original concept, which is a shame given the increasing focus on two of its biggest advantages – biosecurity and nutrient management.

Dusting off this old BMP for a closer look has been the focus of our work – and with promising results.  The benefits of hitting the reset button on this practice couldn’t be more clear:

  1. Greatly improved biosecurity for the individual grower when compared to traditional composting;
  2. Improved biosecurity for the entire industry as more individual farms switch from composting to freezing, reducing the likelihood of wider outbreaks;
  3. Reduced operational costs for the individual poultry farm as compared to more labor-intensive practices, such as composting;
  4. Greatly reduced environmental impact as compared to other BMPs that require land application as a second step, including composting, bio-digestion and incineration; and
  5. Improved quality of life for the grower, the grower’s family and the grower’s neighbors when compared to other BMPs, such as composting and incineration.

What Did We Do?

We basically took a fresh look at all aspects of this “old” BMP, and shared our findings with various audiences.

That work included:

  1. Direct testing with our own equipment on our own poultry farm regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors,
    2. Freezer unit capacity,
    3. Power consumption, and
    4. Operational/maintenance aspects;
  2. Field trials on two pilot project farms over two years regarding
    1. Freezer unit capacity
    2. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors,
    3. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors,
    4. Operational and collection/hauling aspects;
  3. Performing literature reviews and interviews regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
    2. Pathogen/disease transmission,
    3. Biosecurity measures
    4. Nutrient management comparisons
    5. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors
  4. Ensuring the results of the above topics/tests were communicated to
    1. Growers
    2. Integrators
    3. Legislators
    4. Environmental groups
    5. Funding agencies (state and federal)
    6. Veterinary agencies (state and federal)

What Have We Learned?

The breadth of the work at times limited the depth of any one topic’s exploration, but here is an overview of our findings:

  1. Direct testing with our own equipment on our own poultry farm regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
      1. Farm visitation by scavenger animals, including buzzards/vultures, raccoons, foxes and feral cats, that previously dined in the composting shed daily slowly decreased and then stopped entirely about three weeks after the farm converted to freezer units.
      2. The fly population was dramatically reduced after the farm converted from composting to freezer units.  [Reduction was estimated at 80%-90%.]
    2. Freezer unit capacity
      1. The test units were carefully filled on a daily basis to replicate the size and amount of deadstock generated over the course of a full farm’s grow-out cycle.
      2. The capacity tests were repeated over several flocks to ensure we had accurate numbers for creating a capacity calculator/matrix, which has since been adopted by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to determine the correct number of units per farm based on flock size and finish bird weight (or number of grow-out days) in connection with the agency’s cost-share program.
    3. Power consumption
      1. Power consumption was recorded daily over several flocks and under several conditions, e.g., during all four seasons and under cover versus outside and unprotected from the elements.
      2. Energy costs were higher for uncovered units and obviously varied depending on the season, but the average cost to power one unit is only 90 cents a day.  The total cost of power for the average farm (all four units) is only $92 per flock.  (See additional information for supporting documentation and charts.)
    4. Operational/maintenance aspects;
      1. It was determined that the benefits of installing the units under cover (e.g., inside a small shed or retrofitted bin composter) with a winch system to assist with emptying the units greatly outweighed the additional infrastructure costs.
      2. This greatly reduced wear and tear on the freezer component of the system during emptying, eliminated clogging of the removable filter component, as well as provided enhanced access to the unit for periodic cleaning/maintenance by a refrigeration professional.
  2. Field trials on two pilot project farms over two years regarding
    1. Freezer unit capacity
      1. After tracking two years of full farm collection/hauling data, we were able to increase the per unit capacity number in the calculator/matrix from 1,500 lbs. to 1,800 lbs., thereby reducing the number of units required per farm to satisfy that farm’s capacity needs.
    2. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors
      1. Both farms reported improved quality of life, largely thanks to the elimination or reduction of animals, insects and smells associated with composting.
    3. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
      1. Both farms reported elimination or reduction of the scavenging animals and disease-carrying insects commonly associated with composting.
    4. Operational and collection/hauling aspects
      1. With the benefit of two years of actual use in the field, we entirely re-designed the sheds used for housing the freezer units.
      2. The biggest improvements were created by turning the units so they faced each other rather than all lined up side-by-side facing outward.  (See additional information for supporting documentation and diagrams.)  This change then meant that the grower went inside the shed (and out of the elements) to load the units.  This change also provided direct access to the fork pockets, allowing for quicker emptying and replacement with a forklift.
  3. Performing literature reviews and interviews regarding
    1. Farm visitation by animals and other disease vectors
      1. More research confirming the connection between farm visitation by scavenger animals and the use of composting was recently published by the USDA National Wildlife Research Center:
        1. “Certain wildlife species may become habituated to anthropogenically modified habitats, especially those associated with abundant food resources.  Such behavior, at least in the context of multiple farms, could facilitate the movement of IAV from farm to farm if a mammal were to become infected at one farm and then travel to a second location.  …  As such, the potential intrusion of select peridomestic mammals into poultry facilities should be accounted for in biosecurity plans.”
        2. Root, J. J. et al. When fur and feather occur together: interclass transmission of avian influenza A virus from mammals to birds through common resources. Sci. Rep. 5, 14354; doi:10.1038/ srep14354 (2015) at page 6 (internal citations omitted; emphasis added).
    2. Pathogen/disease transmission,
      1. Animals and insects have long been known to be carriers of dozens of pathogens harmful to poultry – and to people.  Recently, however, the USDA National Wildlife Research Center demonstrated conclusively that mammals are not only carriers – they also can transmit avian influenza virus to birds.
        1. The study’s conclusion is particularly troubling given the number and variety of mammals and other animals that routinely visit composting sheds as demonstrated by our research using a game camera.  These same animals also routinely visit nearby waterways and other poultry farms increasing the likelihood of cross-contamination, as explained in this the video titled Farm Freezer Biosecurity Benefits.
        2. “When wildlife and poultry interact and both can carry and spread a potentially damaging agricultural pathogen, it’s cause for concern,” said research wildlife biologist Dr. Jeff Root, one of several researchers from the National Wildlife Research Center, part of the USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services program, studying the role wild mammals may play in the spread of avian influenza viruses.
    3. Biosecurity measures
      1. Every day the grower collects routine mortality and stores it inside large freezer units. After the broiler flock is caught and processed, but before the next flock is started – i.e. when no live birds are present,  a customized truck and forklift empty the freezer units and hauls away the deadstock.  During this 10- to 20- day window between flocks biosecurity is relaxed and dozens of visitors (feed trucks, litter brokers, mortality collection) are on site in preparation for the next flock.
        1. “Access will change after a production cycle,” according to a biosecurity best practices document (enclosed) from Iowa State University. “Empty buildings are temporarily considered outside of the [protected area and even] the Line of Separation is temporarily removed because there are no birds in the barn.”
    4. Nutrient management comparisons
      1. Research provided by retired extension agent Bud Malone (enclosed) provided us with the opportunity to calculate nitrogen and phosphorous numbers for on-farm mortality, and therefore, the amount of those nutrients that can be diverted from land application through the use of freezer units instead of composting.
      2. The research (contained in an enclosed presentation) also provided a comparison of the cost-effectiveness of various nutrient management BMPs – and a finding that freezing and recycling is about 90% more efficient than the average of all other ag BMPs in reducing phosphorous.
    5. Quality of life issues for growers and neighbors
      1. Local and county governments in several states have been compiling a lot of research on the various approaches for ensuring farmers and their residential neighbors can coexist peacefully.
      2. Many of the complaints have focused on the unwanted scavenger animals, including buzzards/vultures, raccoons, foxes and feral cats, as well as the smells associated with composting.
      3. The concept of utilizing sealed freezer collection units to eliminate the smells and animals associated with composting is being considered by some government agencies as an alternative to instituting deeper and deeper setbacks from property lines, which make farming operations more difficult and costly.

Future Plans

We see more work on three fronts:

  • First, we’ll continue to do monitoring and testing locally so that we may add another year or two of data to the time frames utilized initially.
  • Second, we are actively working to develop new more profitable uses for the deadstock (alternatives to rendering) that could one day further reduce the cost of mortality management for the grower.
  • Lastly, as two of the biggest advantages of this practice – biosecurity and nutrient management – garner more attention nationwide, our hope would be to see more thorough university-level research into each of the otherwise disparate topics that we were forced to cobble together to develop a broad, initial understanding of this BMP.

Corresponding author (name, title, affiliation)

Victor Clark, Co-Founder & Vice President, Legal and Government Affairs, Farm Freezers LLC and Greener Solutions LLC

Corresponding author email address

victor@farmfreezers.com

Other Authors

Terry Baker, Co-Founder & President, Farm Freezers LLC and Greener Solutions LLC

Additional Information

https://rendermagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Render_Oct16.pdf

Farm Freezer Biosecurity Benefits

One Night in a Composting Shed

www.farmfreezers.com

Transmission Pathways

Avian flu conditions still evolving (editorial)

USDA NRCS Conservation fact sheet Poultry Freezers

Nature.com When fur and feather occur together: interclass transmission of avian influenza A virus from mammals to birds through common resources

How Does It Work? (on-farm freezing)

Influenza infections in wild raccoons (CDC)

Collection Shed Unit specifications

Collection Unit specifications

Freezing vs Composting for Biosecurity (Render magazine)

Manure and spent litter management: HPAI biosecurity (Iowa State University)

Acknowledgements

Bud Malone, retired University of Delaware Extension poultry specialist and owner of Malone Poultry Consulting

Bill Brown, University of Delaware Extension poultry specialist, poultry grower and Delmarva Poultry Industry board member

Delaware Department of Agriculture

Delaware Nutrient Management Commission

Delaware Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service

Maryland Office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

PA Finishing Swine Barn Experience: Changing from Mortality Burial to a Michigan Style Composting Barn

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Purpose

In the spring of 2014, the farmer with a 2020 finishing pig barn, wanted to change from burial of mortality to composting the mortality. We will document the change and the use of the composting barn from July 2014 to Dec 2016.

What did we do?

This 2020 finish pig barn space has about 3% mortality and expects about 250 deaths per year to compost. We discussed building a PA Michigan single wall compost barn design. The farmer built a 24×40 compost barn, with a 3 feet center dividing wall. The barn was completed in the summer of 2014 and we will track the pig barn turns and compost barn mortality loadings from July 2014 to December 2016. The barn has used about 56 cubic yards of woodchips/ bark mulch the first year and then replaced with about 40 cubic yards of sawdust for the second year.

The compost temperatures have reached 130 Degrees F and the farmer is very pleased with how the barn works and how he can mix and turn the compost. The presentation will cover barn costs, barn design and sawdust mortality loading and turning.

Field with windmills and barn
PA Michigan compost barn built at the end of the hog barn

Compost heap under shelter
Excellent example of free flowing air into the compost piles while
having a center push up wall to help turn the piles

What have we learned?

We have documented the farmers use of the barn, the mortality rates, compost sawdust and woodchip use, and mixing schedules. We have also documented the mortality cost rates for this farm.

Future Plans

We will highlight this PA Michigan compost barn type to other pig barns and document the use of them in Pennsylvania.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

J Craig Williams

Corresponding author email

Jcw17@psu.edu

Additional information

http://extension.psu.edu/animals/health/composting

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/managing_animal_mortalities

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Organizing demonstrations and tours for Government officials and Extension on Animal Mortality Management

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Purpose

Provide some discussion on putting together Tour and Demonstration educational events. To Provide real life demonstrations and educational opportunities dealing with Mortality management.

What did we do?

The agent participated on a multi-state and multi country steering committee to organize and host an international symposium on Animal Mortality and Disposal Management. This was the 5th symposium and had 179 registered attendees from 11 different countries: Australia, Canada, China, Georgia, Korea, New Zealand, Nigeria, the UK, the US, Tunisia, and Vietnam.

The agent served as the host state coordinator (Penn), the 3 bus tour coordinator and the demonstration’s chairperson. Demonstrations included high density foaming, compost pile building and turning, environmental grinder processors, Clean Harbor Industries,  truck wash stations, and proper euthanasia with cap and bolt guns. The agent will list the success and challenges of these types of demonstrations and educational events. Results are from the 5th International Symposium on Managing Animal Mortality, Products, and By-products, and Associated Health Risk: Connecting Research, Regulations and Response at the Southeast Agricultural Research and Extension Center on Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

Moving horse for mortality composting
Examples of demonstrations during the field day

What have we learned?

Excellent industry tours and Farm tours and Demonstrations are an excellent learning opportunity. All Parties including Extension, Farmers, Industry and government personnel can benefit from hands on education.  Those in attendance gained skills and knowledge to be able to host their own training sessions and to be better prepared to handle animal mortality outbreaks and events in their own state.  They gained a first hand experience on pile building and related technologies for this type of event.

Demo with tractor covering mortality composting pile
Turning of a 60 day compost pile

Future Plans

The International Committee on Animal Mortality and Waste Products is a collection of University researchers and educators, State Department of Agriculture, Federal Homeland Security and Environmental Protection Agency personnel. The committee plans to meet for future International Symposiums as needed.

http://animalmortmgmt.org/symposium/contributors/

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

J Craig Williams, County Agent, Penn State Extension

Corresponding author email

jcw17@psu.edu

Additional information

Conference website

http://animalmortmgmt.org/

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

PEDV Survivability in Swine Mortality Compost Piles


*Purpose

PEDv has caused significant losses in the Nebraska pork industry and mortality can approach 100%. Disposal of these carcasses is a challenge as they serve as a source of tremendous amounts of infectious virus. Current alternative methods of disposal include rendering, incineration and burial. Rendering trucks may serve as a farm-to-farm vector. Incineration is not feasible for the significant number of mortalities and burial may enable long-term survival of virus in soil and may cause re-infection after disease elimination. Therefore, composting may serve as an ideal solution for disposal and mortalities this would provide a biosecure, safe, and cost-effective method to mitigate on-farm sources of virus. The overall objective of this study was to determine the efficacy of composting as a mortality disposal method following death loss from the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv). Validation of time-temperature combinations for PEDv inactivation in mortality compost piles was the primary intended outcome of this project.

What did we do?

PEDv virus challenge protocol modeled one that has shown previous success using weanling pigs (Hesse et al., 2013). Twenty-seven animals (approximately 21-day-old weaned piglets) were sourced from a high-health commercial source that had no history of PEDv and with dams that tested negative for the presence of PEDv-specific antibodies and were negative for fecal virus shedding as determined by PCR. Experimental groups were housed in pens and maintained at appropriate temperature and in accordance with national animal care space requirements. Pigs were given five days of acclimation and maintained on commercial nursery pig diets. Following acclimation, each pig was inoculated orally with 5 mL of virus inoculum (NE 9282) supplemented with gentamicin that had been diluted to a real time PCR assay cycle threshold (Ct) 22. Inocula (feces/intestinal contents) from a natural outbreak of PEDv were used. Pigs were evaluated twice daily for evidence of infection: temperature, pulse, respiration, dehydration, and diarrhea. Fecal samples were collected daily for evaluation of fecal shedding of PEDv. When significant clinical signs of enteric disease were present or pigs became sufficiently ill that the attending veterinarian determined euthanasia was appropriate, animals were humanely euthanized and samples taken for necropsy.

Following necropsy, carcasses from infected and euthanized pigs were composted inside biosecure rooms in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Research Facility at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Three compost piles were constructed using commercial sawdust and wood shavings at a target moisture content of 50% w.b. For each pile, an insulated platform with internal dimensions of 121.92 cm (W) x 152.4 cm (L) (48 in x 60 in) was used to contain piles. Platforms were constructed of an outer layer of plywood and an inner layer of PolyBoard sheeting with foam board insulation in between to simulate the linear continuation of the pile and the insulative properties of a compacted soil base. Compost piles were constructed by placing a layer of wood shavings on each base to a depth of 60 cm (24 in), followed by placement of five carcasses in a single layer in the center of the pile followed by a 15 cm (6 in) layer of pile material and a second layer of four carcasses in a single layer. Additional sawdust was placed over and around the carcasses to achieve 60 cm of coverage on the top of the pile. Rooms were maintained at approximately 21°C (70°F) and 25% RH throughout the duration of the project.

Temperature was monitored at ten locations within each pile using Apresys in-transit digital temperature recorders (Apresys, Inc., Duluth, GA) beginning at establishment of the piles and continuing at a 20-min sampling frequency (duration of primary compost cycle not established at time of proceedings submission). Temperature within each pile was also monitored manually using a thermometer at 0, 24, 48, 96 h, and 168 h, and then weekly for the duration of the compost cycle to confirm success of the heating process.

Following completion of the primary compost cycle, temperature loggers will be recovered and each pile will be mixed, sampled for analysis of survivability of PEDv at five locations, moisture will be added, and piles will be re-established for a secondary composting cycle with temperature loggers placed as previously described. At the completion of the secondary composting cycle, piles will again be sampled for analysis of survivability of PEDv (5 samples per pile) and temperature loggers will be recovered.

PEDv survivability will be determined via two independent assay methods. Reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is a rapid and sensitive method that will be used to quantify the amount of virus RNA genome in the samples. The Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center currently has a validated RT-qPCR test to assay for the presence of PEDv in manure sample matrices. To validate results from the RT-qPCR in laboratory assays, sawdust simulated compost matrix will be spiked with known concentrations of PEDv target RNA and compared to known standards to ensure no inhibition is present and that proper extraction methods are being used. An alternative method using virus isolation will also be conducted to determine whether viable virus is present in flasks at a smaller subset of time points. To do this, Vero cell monolayers will be infected with filter sterilized aliquots of compost exudate, blindly passaged once after seven days, and examined for virus p resence using IFA with a PED specific monoclonal antibody. At specific time points, RT-qPCR Ct values and Virus Isolation will be run in parallel to ensure sensitivity of testing and to evaluate correlation of the testing modalities under the simulated testing conditions and matrices. If these testing methods show agreement, and/or no virus is isolated, RT-qPCR testing will be utilized to facilitate rapid and consistent assessment of virus persistence during the majority of experimental time points.

What have we learned?

Biosecurity is essential to controlling the spread of PEDv and any facility that is currently positive for PEDv should work diligently to prevent contamination of neighboring facilities. Vehicle transport has been shown as a high-risk activity that may facilitate spread of PEDv (Lowe 2014) and mortalities that are positive for PEDv may be rejected by renderers to protect them from liability for transmitting the disease. Burial of mortalities can be detrimental to water quality (Bartelt-Hunt et al., 2013) and it is unknown how long the PEDv can remain active in the cool, dark, moist environment that accompanies land burial of carcasses, but extrapolation of available data suggests virus may persist for months. Therefore, we believe composting is likely to provide an effective, biosecure, economically viable and environmentally compatible option for disposal of PEDv mortalities. This research will validate the effectiveness of composting through controlled mortality composting trials subsequent to experimental infections. With the completion of this research, our expectation is that we will know what operating parameters are required to ensure inactivation of PEDv during composting of PEDv mortalities.

Future Plans

Using the information generated from this research, we will deliver extension programming and outreach materials to swine producers, veterinarians, and stakeholders within and beyond Nebraska to promote biosecure disposal of PEDv-infected mortalities.

Authors

Amy Millmier Schmidt, Assistant Professor and Livestock Bioenvironmental Engineer, University of Nebraska – Lincoln aschmidt@unl.edu

J. Dustin Loy, Assistant Professor, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Additional information

Dr. Amy Millmier Schmidt
(402) 472-0877
aschmidt@unl.edu

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Board for providing funding for this research. Special thanks to Jared Korth for helping with laboratory activities on this project and construction of mortality composting platforms.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Time-Temperature Combinations for Destruction of PEDv During Composting


*Purpose

The purpose of this project was to determine the appropriate time-temperature combinations required for inactivation of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in composting material as a basis for evaluation of composting for disposal of swine mortalities and/or other PEDv-positive biological material.

What did we do?

In vitro propagation of PEDv for laboratory survivability assays was conducted using a cell culture-adapted isolate received from APHIS-NVSL (Ames, IA) that was free of extraneous agents (5th passage Colorado 2013 PEDv 1303). Propagation was conducted by infection of confluent VERO cell monolayers at a multiplicity of infection (MOI) of 0.1 with a concentration of 5 µg/mL TPCK trypsin. Virus stocks were be amplified following a 2-4 day incubation period on cell monolayers, frozen and thawed, centrifuged, and culture supernatants containing virus were harvested. Virus concentration was calculated and standardized to 1×105-1×106 TCID50/mL using immunocytochemistry and indirect fluorescent antibody assay (IFA) using a PEDV specific mouse monoclonal antibody (MedGene Labs).

The effect of temperature on survivability of PEDv in compost material was evaluated by inoculating compost material and subjecting the material to temperatures of 50°C (122°F), 55°C (131°F), 60°C (140°F), 65°C (149°F), and 70°C (158°F) for 0, 24, 48, 72, 96 h, and 120 h. Sawdust was acquired from a commercial source, autoclaved to eliminate existing microbes, oven dried and used to simulate compost material. One gram of prepared sawdust was placed in each of 140 1-mL centrifuge tubes. Cell culture supernatant containing infectious PEDv was added to phosphate buffered saline and added to each tube achieve a moisture content of 50% w.b. Tubes were randomly assigned to laboratory incubators at the five temperature treatment levels. At each sampling point, four tubes were removed from each incubator and tested to determine virus survivability.

PEDv survivability was determined via two independent assay methods. Reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is a rapid and sensitive method that was used by the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Center to quantify the amount of virus RNA genome in the samples. To validate results from the RT-qPCR in laboratory assays, sawdust simulated compost matrix was spiked with known concentrations of PEDv target RNA and compared to known standards to ensure no inhibition was present and that proper extraction methods were being used. An alternative method using virus isolation was also conducted to determine whether viable virus was present in tubes at a smaller subset of time points. To do this, Vero cell monolayers were infected with filter sterilized aliquots of compost exudate, blindly passaged once after seven days, and examined for virus presence using IFA with a PED specific monoclonal antibody. At specific time points, RT-qPCR Ct values and Virus Isolation were run in parallel to ensure sensitivity of testing and to evaluate correlation of the testing modalities under the simulated testing conditions and matrices.

What have we learned?

At the time of proceedings submission, results were not available for inclusion in this report. Results will be presented during the scheduled oral seminar at the conference.

Results of this laboratory study will be used to evaluate appropriate time-temperature combinations necessary during swine mortality composting to inactivate the PEDv virus and determine the feasibility of on-farm mortality composting as a biosecure disposal method for PEDv-infected pigs. Following this laboratory study, mortality composting was initiated using PEDv-positive piglets to confirm the inactivation of PEDv during composting.

Future Plans

Results of this and the full-scale composting study will be used to recommend appropriate swine mortality disposal methods for swine producers with losses due to PEDv as part of their farm biosecurity plan. Additional swine enteric corornaviruses will likely be studied to confirm similar requirements for disposal of mortalities caused by these viruses.

Authors

Amy Millmier Schmidt, Assistant Professor and Livestock Bioenvironmental Engineer, University of Nebraska – Lincoln aschmidt@unl.edu

J. Dustin Loy, Assistant Professor, Clayton Kelling, Professor, Judith Galeota, Virology Laboratory Manager, and Sarah Vitosh, Graduate Research Assistant, Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Additional information

Dr. Amy Millmier Schmidt
(402) 472-0877
aschmidt@unl.edu

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the Nebraska Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Board for providing funding for this research. Special thanks to Jared Korth for helping with laboratory activities on this project.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Multi-Specie Mortality Composting Demonstrations and Outreach in SW Nebraska

Research and demonstration projects continue to validate the practice of mortality composting in a variety of production scenarios, geographic regions, and climates.  Composting, when compared to many common methods of mortality management, can result in improved environmental, economic, and biosecurity outcomes.  In SW Nebraska, a partnership was developed between the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) to demonstrate mortality composting as a biosecurity management practice for livestock producers, and an economically viable practice for management of equine mortalities.  Initially, the target audiences for the demonstration and outreach were agricultural students and faculty of NCTA, livestock producers, and horse owners; however, the project attracted the interest of veterinarians managing private practices and the teaching hospital at NCTA.  The expanded audience allowed for discussion on the social acceptance of composting for recreational horses and companion animals, particularly the fate of the finished compost.  Additionally, multiple carbon sources and co-composting materials were piloted, included waste cedar which is common to the area.  Additional demonstration sites and outreach events are planned for 2015, working with the expanded audiences, and in other regions of the state.  Management of mortality composting in the humid eastern end Nebraska will be different than in the semi-arid high plains location of NCTA.              

Authors

Bass, Thomas     tmbass@montana.edu                 Animal and Range Sciences        

Jim Hicks, NCTA

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Manure Technology Video Series


Can Video Be Used as a ‘Virtual’ Tour?

Producers are reluctant to adopt new technologies without firsthand experience with the technology. It is particularly difficult to get positive exposure for manure related issues in traditional media. Creative methods are needed to expose producers to useful technologies for handling and treating animal wastes. The OSU Waste Management Youtube channel was created to provide virtual tours of manure treatment and handling technologies.

What did we do?

Fourteen videos highlighting innovative manure handling and treatment technologies were filmed, edited, and produced by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. We specifically sought out producers who successfully adopted technologies to the particular conditions of their farms.

What have we learned?

In its five years of existence, the OSU Waste Management Youtube channel has been viewed more than 53,000 times (120,000 minutes viewed) from 183 countries and all fifty states – plus Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Future Plans

We will continue to add new videos to the channel.

Authors

Douglas W. Hamilton, Associate Professor Oklahoma State University dhamilt@okstate.edu

Craig A. Woods, Video Producer/Director Ag Communication Services, Oklahoma State University

Additional information

https://www.youtube.com/user/OSUWasteManagement

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2015. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Seattle, WA. March 31-April 3, 2015. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.