Farm Horizons, December 2014
A farm fall ‘to do’ list
By Lori Brinkman, Assistant Carver County Feedlot Administrator
As a mom to three young kids, I understand to-do lists. I used to write things down, but because my world is ever-changing, I’ve scrapped lists.
Sometimes things don’t get written down (usually because the list walks away or I can’t find a pen), and then the to-do item gets forgotten.
Instead, I’ve learned to manage the continuous vortex of thoughts within my mind with fairly masterful precision. While it’s a system that works well for me, I’m sure it might not work for everyone, and someday I may have to re-evaluate my own system and make changes. For now it works.
We all have our own to-do lists. Aside from managing our everyday family lives and homes, when fall arrives, we get especially busy, because we know winter is on its way and winter doesn’t seem to follow a calendar around here.
Luckily, we can organize our tasks into big jobs and small jobs, and cross a few indoor items off the list when the weather isn’t cooperating, and if all the leaves don’t get raked or the shed doesn’t get cleaned out, it’s not the end of the world.
That’s not the case with agriculture. When it comes to agriculture, the list is especially long, the jobs usually aren’t small, and it all needs to get done before the snow flies, the ground freezes, or they lose money.
A typical list might look something like this.
Fall farm to-do list
1. Harvest crops.
2. Harvest fall bedding.
3. Move livestock around.
4. Clean out barns.
5. HAUL MANURE!
6. Till the land.
If you’re wondering why item 5 is in bold lettering and includes an exclamation point, it’s because it gets the most attention . . . from everyone.
I’m not discouraging complaints, but I am encouraging non-agricultural rural residents to understand land application of manure regulations in regard to odor.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture brochure, titled “Facts About Livestock Odor,” states, “Currently, the State of Minnesota only regulates Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions from livestock operations. H2S is regulated through the state H2S ambient air standard. This standard is a 30-minute average of 30 parts per billion found twice in five days, or a 30-minute average of 50 ppb found twice per year.
“Odor is regulated by the state at the present time. The MPCA is responsible for enforcing H2S and PM. The MPCA utilizes a handheld unit, called a Jerome Meter, to screen for H2S. Jerome meters cannot be used to establish a legal violation of the standard; this requires continuous air monitoring.
“When H2S emissions are exceeded, the MPCA may utilize a Continuous Air Monitor (CAM) to further monitor H2S emissions in the field for an extended period of time.
“It should be noted that a variety of factors can affect the accuracy of CAM results. Livestock operators that are emptying liquid manure storage areas and land-applying the manure, are exempt from H2S standards for 21 days during a calendar year.”
As I stated previously, I am not discouraging complaints. I encourage them, because that is how I learn about many land application of manure violations. Some of those violations have been rather significant, in regard to protection of water quality in Carver County. I appreciate the opportunity to talk with people one-on-one, and I encourage individuals to provide contact information if they leave a message. All complaints are 100 percent confidential.
Farmers have a part in easing land application of manure complaints, also. First and foremost, follow your manure management plans, conditional use permits, and land setback requirements to sensitive features.
In addition, if you know when you will be emptying your basin, call Carver County Environmental Services and I will make a note of the dates that you will be pumping your basin in order to note your odor exemption.
Lastly, take the time to contact your neighbor yourself. It goes a long way in building neighborhood relationships and helping everyone to understand one another’s livelihood.