May 2014 Newsletter Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center

<==Subscribe to the newsletter or browse past issues

Webcast Series

Looking Ahead to June: EPA’s Proposed “Waters of the U.S. Rule”

a small waterway running through a pastureThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed changes to the rule that defines the “Waters of the U.S.”, and thereby defines waters regulated by the EPA, is seen by some as a major change and by others as a minor tweaking of wording. Confused? (Me too). Join us for our June webcast as EPA staff from the Wetlands Division and Office of Water fill us in on the proposed changes and the implications for agriculture. The webcast will be held before the closing of the public comment period, to allow viewers a chance to finalize their thoughts and submit their input. More…June 20, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. (eastern)

Future Topics

July – Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) biosecurity
September – Feed Nutrient Management Planner Economics (FNMP$)
Fall 2014 (tentative) – mortality composting “Beyond the Basics” series
If you have a suggestion for a topic or speaker, fill out the webcast suggestion form.
As always, you can check out the recordings of past webcast at our webcast archive and view the schedule at upcoming webcasts.

What’s Going On In the LPELC?

Waste to Worth: Spreading science and solutions logoWaste to Worth. Planning for the 2015 Waste to Worth conference is well under way. Consider spreading the word about the conference, submitting an abstract or becoming a vendor or sponsor. The conference will be held in beautiful downtown Seattle within walking distance of the Space Needle, Waterfront, and public transit. The agenda and other information is available at the conference waste

CCA Credits. Certified Crop Advisors (CCA’s) and related programs like CPAg and CPSS can again get continuing education credits for viewing archived webcasts and taking a quiz. Note: The CCA program charges a fee to take the quiz and requires a minimum score to receive credit. Visit our webcast archive to find selections that fit your CEU needs. As always, CCA members viewing the live webcast can receive credits without the quiz. Browse the webcast archive by topic… | chronologically….

Survey.What are the important issues in animal ag and environmental stewardship? What can the LPELC do better to help professionals making decisions that impact environmental management on farms? Tell us in a short (5 minutes, I promise) survey. If you take the survey and send the link to a few of your colleagues with encouragement to answer the questions, email me (jheemstra at and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win one of several cool prizes – like a portable hard drive, LPELC polo, or a “juice pack” (on-the-go charger for your mobile devices). Go to the survey…

Climate Course. Want to learn more about climate change and how it can impact animal agriculture? Do you want to be ready when an extreme event raises questions about climate among your clientele? Check out the comprehensive online course that includes topic like: recent weather trends, climate impacts, adaptation and risk management, basic climate science, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation practices, the basics of carbon markets, and communication strategies for dealing with this contentious issue. Signups are available at the start of each month for this comprehensive course. More… | Brochure

Featured Video:

Small and Backyard Poultry Flocks

National Resources

Climate Assessment, Small Farms, Grassland Management

Climate Assessment. The National Climate Assessment is out! This comprehensive report explores the impacts of climate change on many different sectors including agriculture. The report looks at the potential scenarios related to different crops, animal agriculture, diseases and pests, as well as the likelihood of extreme events. NCA Home… | Agriculture section… | Related: LPELC Climate Change information

Small Farms. The USDA Economic Research Service released a report on small farms (10 acres or less) that have gross sales of $10,000 or more. This growing sector of U.S. agriculture is moving well beyond the “hobby” farm. The report highlights the types of farm enterprises, financial performance, ownership and other characteristics. More…

Grassland Management. The Commission on Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has summarized beneficial management practices related to grassland management in North America. The site includes information on plants, ecosystem, people, invasive species, water, and other relevant topics. More…

State Program Highlights

  • Minnesota: University of Minnesota Extension Educator Randy Pepin offers advice on managing high-phosphorus soils. More…
  • Wisconsin: A survey of professional manure applicators in the state shows some interesting trends. Started in 2001, the survey has annually asked about sizes and types of equipment as well as types of manure being handled. One of the top trends is the large increase in the use of GPS and agitation boats. More…
  • Michigan: Michigan State Extension reminds everyone to be prepared for manure spills with an emergency plan. More…
  • Iowa: Iowa State, South Dakota State, and USDA ARS have jointly released a new publication “Air Quality in Monoslope Beef Buildings” which summarizes the results of a three-year study on air emissions from bedded beef barns. More…

Have a state project or program you would like to see in this section? Email the details to

Hot Topics

Ag Law Review, Nitrate Filtering, Range Research, Super-Shedders 

solid manure spreadingAg Law Review. For those interested in agricultural law, a recent article from Drake University Law Professor Neil Hamilton looks back at several distinct periods in U.S. agriculture and how policy and legislation have played a role in each of those periods (especially in the transitions between periods) and takes a look at topics that are likely to be important if future ag law. More…

Nitrate Filtering. University of Texas hydrologists studied the Mississippi River system and specifically examined the natural systems in place to remove nitrate nitrogen from water in the river. They concluded that the filtering systems are at or near capacity, and explains why so much nitrate is making it to the Gulf of Mexico. More…

Range Research. Two USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) research projects focus on range and grassland management. One uses an “old” approach while another tries to peek into the future.

  • Using Fire to Keep Rangelands Viable for Grazing More…
  • Potential Impact of Climate Change on Rangeland Plants More…

Antibiotic Resistance. The American Society of Microbiology recently reported on a research project that identified the presence of a diverse “reservoir” of antibiotic resistance genes in microbes in cow manure. They noted that the connection between the genetic sequences found in manure were only distantly related to those in the existing database, signalling that the they are likely not a problem for humans yet. Future studies will follow the microbes through soil, food, and to the table. News release…. | Journal article…

“Super-Shedders”. A USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) study shows that around 2% of cattle are “super-shedders” which means they excrete much higher levels of Escherichia coli bacteria than the average animal. By identifying these animals and comparing them to normal ones, researchers hope to find ways to prevent this situation and reduce one potential risk in food safety. More…

Manure tweet of the week:

manure tweet of the week about idaho research turning manure into plastic

Events & Announcements

Manure Expo. The 2014 Manure Expo will be held July 8 and 9 near Springfield, MO. For more information check out the expo website at

Antibiotics. “Antibiotic Resistance in Agroecosystem: State of the Science” will be held August 5-8, 2014 in Oracle, Arizona. More…

Waste to Worth 2015. The second Waste to Worth conference will be held March 30-April 3 at the Westin hotel in Seattle, WA. More…

Have your state/regional/national event added to this section of our newsletter. Send them to Jill at

Manure In the News

Manure spraying under scrutiny” is a look at the controversy over using irrigation equipment to spray manure on crop fields. The article touches on some of the benefits and problems with the practice. It also examines the state of Wisconsin’s decision to assemble a panel to research the practice and recommend future directions. Related article from Wisconsin State Journal.

Out in the northwest part of the country, “Ammonia from manure a health risk when mixed with air pollution, scientists say” highlights public concern over air emissions from dairies in a Washington county with marginal air quality and the complex interactions with non-agricultural air emissions. Of interest is the “Clean Air Agency” which is working with dairy farms to create air quality plans, conduct inspections, and encourage practices known to reduce air emissions.

A look at animal agriculture and manure in the news, serious, funny or controversial. Inclusion here does not constitute LPELC endorsement. In other words, we don’t create this stuff, we just link to it.


If you have any questions about this newsletter, please contact Jill Heemstra