The FIVE Most Common Manure Management Mistakes

Modern pork production requires an environmental and economical approach to manure handling. These stories of producers illustrate the five most common management mistakes and how to avoid them.

1) Chad does not anticipate change.
His plan has not been friendly to time or operational changes.
Producers are often anchored by their current cash flow limits, causing them to address building and manure needs as they occur and not as part of a strategic plan. This can lead to many buildings with incompatible systems, manure destinations, and overwhelmed manure collection capacity. Careful consideration of upgrades, size increases, and design of storage systems, collection methods, and lagoon volume will help create a better manure management program. Reach out to your state’s university, extension service, or specialized companies before installing them. Involving an engineer with an ag background early on to plan the new system can help ensure that all essential factors have been considered to avoid costly repairs and changes later.

2) Stan doesn’t have a plan.
He struggles with managing liquid.
When producers cannot provide information on the quantity and frequency of liquid going into a storage facility or lagoon, they can face significant issues. They may want to apply manure in late spring, or early summer yet lack enough lagoon for irragating. In the fall, the lagoon is full, and producers are faced with a problem. Knowing the volume of liquid stored can be determined with water meters and tables of rainfall and expected production values. This also helps producers plan for the lagoon needs for irrigating, considering factors like evaporation. Water meters are a friend to the producer, helping them determine how much water is used in their manure system. By recording water usage, patterns may become evident. At certain times during the year, the manure level might near maximum capacity limits. Looking at the patterns, you can better manage your water use.

3) Nate’s nutrient understanding is negligible.
The word “test” has struck fear in him since the seventh grade.
Testing manure nutrients and soil samples are important and, in the end, a cheap form of insurance. Many producers are unaware of the nutrient content of their manure, and the application doesn’t always match the crop needs. An analysis of the nutrient content helps facilitate accurate manure applications. It is also essential to be realistic and utilize soil surveys to determine crop yield expectations, as over-application of manure does not change the quality of your soil.

4) Eli overestimates his equipment.
He is not able to keep up with the quantity of manure produced.
Manure management depends on adequate equipment. Because swine production can be intense, the manure application process cannot require a significant time commitment. Producers should consider the application schedule for their crop needs and purchase the appropriate equipment. They should also ensure that equipment will reduce their time and costs or improve their yields. In addition to application equipment, handling equipment must accommodate the flushing frequency.

5) Bob is not a builder.
Therefore, he does not embrace the proper management of his building’s manure system.
Producers who fail to follow the recommended building and manure system procedures often encounter odor issues. Delaying flushing or plug pulling can result in completing the process for all the buildings simultaneously, thus overwhelming the lagoon and compounding odor. By scheduling a rotation of flushing or plug pulling, a producer isn’t spending an entire day on that process and is less likely to fall far behind.