Watershed Dairy Environmental Cooperative

EPA 319 Grants/Livestock Waste Management

Joseph P. Harner, 785-532-2930 or jharner@bae.ksu.edu

  • The watershed Dairy Environmental Cooperative provided assistance to 20 small dairy producers managing 2,350 lactating cows.  Various outcomes of the project have potentially reached over 200 dairy producers in Kansas and over 250,000 cows nationwide.
  • Nine concrete storage basins were sampled on Kansas dairies and analyzed for nutrient content of sand laden dairy manure.  The manure averaged 75 percent moisture content during the three sampling periods.  The average total nitrogen, phosphate and potash was 9.7, 4.6 and 7.4 lbs/ton, respectively.
  • Dairies feeding similar feed rations will have similar nutrient contents in the solid manure basins. In addition, nutrient contents within the basin were similar throughout the year. This would enable broader based nutrient management plans to be developed versus individual plans for each farm.
  • Approximately 10 to 25 percent of the manure applied to the land by weight was sand, based on the ash content of the samples taken from dairies bedding free stalls with sand. 
  • The economic value of the nutrient s in the manure was $3 to $4 per ton depending upon the current phosphorus levels in the crop land.
  • The nitrogen to phosphate ratio was approximately 2.5 to 1, nutrient management plans developed on nitrogen bases would not result in excessive phosphorus being applied to the land assuming the supplemental phosphorus was not being applied when using commercial fertilizers.
  • If phosphorus regulations were implemented, approximately 80 percent of the land receiving dairy manure would be able to meet the current manure application guidelines similar to these implemented for the Kansas swine industries.  Preliminary soil sampling indicates sixty-four percent of the fields (7 of 11) in northeast Kansas would be able to apply dairy manure on a nitrogen basis if the current Kansas swine manure application regulations were adopted. Due to high phosphorus levels in some fields, 2 of the 11 fields in northeast Kansas could not have any manure applied to them. Two other fields in northeast Kansas would have to limit manure application rates to the crop phosphorus usage. The data showed minimal accumulation of nitrogen and potassium in the soil profile.
  • Even though 20 percent of the dairies in the Black Vermillion watershed exited the dairy industry during the project, cow numbers remained constant. Using the 200 DHIA records as a bench mark of the Nemaha County Dairies, approximately 80 percent of the top dairies in the local association have addressed the environmental issues. The dairies without a permit that chose not to address environmental concerns voluntarily, generally did not expand, adopted new technologies or addressed the potential environmental impact of the operations.

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