Manure is money to farmers, an agriculture agent in Lawrence County said.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania counties don't have much difficulty in managing manure, area agriculture agents say.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service recently reported that 152 counties in 23 states produce more manure than can be applied to nearby fields, a problem created by the trend toward larger farms and more livestock in a concentrated area than ever before.
While the number of livestock operators declined by 50 percent since 1982, the number of large feedlots more than doubled, according to the USDA report. The report is available at www.ers.usda.gov/features/animalwaste.
The USDA report says counties that have more manure than farmland where the manure can be safely applied are in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Utah, Texas, Colorado, California and Washington.
Water supply: Scott Faber, an attorney for Environmental Defense, told The Associated Press that Environmental Defense is concerned about runoff of manure into the water supply, and is urging Congress to pass the Working Lands Stewardship Act.
Environmental Defense is a New York-based, nonprofit organization that seeks solutions to environmental problems, Faber said.
He said the Working Lands Stewardship Act presented by Reps. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md., would help small and medium-sized livestock operators share the cost of innovative manure management.
Local management: Area agriculture agents say that even large livestock operations in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania have enough land available to safely apply the manure.
Ernie Oelker, Columbiana County agriculture agent, said area farms are not large enough to benefit from the programs of the Working Lands Stewardship Act.
Manure nutrient management plans are required in Ohio for some forms of state and federal funding, Oelker said. Livestock producers are not otherwise mandated to have a manure management plan in place, but many do so voluntarily, he said.
"Regulations in Ohio apply to livestock producers with more than 1,000 animals," Oelker said. "That means most farmers here don't have to comply, but it tells them the government is watching manure management."
Workshops: Oelker said the Ohio State University Extension is conducting manure management workshops this week at two locations. The programs will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds, Wapakoneta, and Thursday and Friday in the Fisher Auditorium of the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center, Wooster.
The cost is $10 each day at the door at both locations, with registration at 8:30 a.m. The sessions include workshops, lunch and tours of area farms.
Plans required: Ryan Hockensmith, Penn State University Extension agronomy agent for Lawrence County, said Pennsylvania requires producers with 2,000 pounds or more of livestock per acre to have a manure management plan in place. Some farmers who are not required to have the plan do so voluntarily, he said.
"Manure is money to farmers," Hockensmith said. "Farming is a business enterprise, and farmers do the math. Fertilizing with their own manure saves on fertilizer costs."
Jay Russell, nutrient management and watershed specialist with Lawrence County Conservation District said there are few western Pennsylvania farms where farmers are applying manure close to streams.
He said Lawrence County farmers meet each spring to discuss manure management requirements and any problems or concerns from neighbors or others.