WHY DO DAIRY FARMS BUILD SATELLITE MANURE STORAGE STRUCTURES??
Manure storage is an important environmental protection practice and more dairy farms across NYS are installing or adding to their storage capacity. Manure storage allows for improved application timing so that nutrients can be better recycled for crop use. Farms that are regulated or that receive state or federal cost sharing must design and build manure storage in accordance with strict USDA-NRCS standards. New regulatory requirements are bringing additional limitations that affect when manure may be applied making adequate manure storage capacity a necessity, and this will also drive an increase in construction of manure storages. Many farms have built manure storage structures near the barns where the animals are housed for ease in loading. Manure needs to be applied at an agronomic rate to crop land, according to crop need, and this means manure must be transported to most fields operated by the dairy, some near, some far. Further, traditional bedding sources like straw or sawdust have become very expensive or difficult to find, so many farms provide mattresses or have turned to bedding with sand or recycled manure solids for cows in freestall housing. This results in manure with a liquid consistency, and often containing 90-95% water. This watery material is bulky and presents challenges to move around at the optimum spreading time to land that grows crops for the cows. For these reasons, it often does not make sense to enlarge or add a second manure storage structure at the home location, but to create storage near other blocks of land where manure will be land applied anyway. These structures are referred to as satellite storage.
A satellite storage allows farms to pump or transport manure during less busy times and in ways that reduce traffic intensity and odor prevalence. This is a benefit for the environment, neighbors, and the farm. This system also allows farms to focus on manure application when the land is ready, as the time-consuming aspect of hauling was taken care of before the growing season starts. This means more timely manure application and also better results for the farm and the environment, because risks of nutrient loss are lower when timing is better.
Karl Czymmek and Peter Wright
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