Predicting Nutrient Application at CAFO Land Application Fields using CAFOweb™

Animal Manure Management November 18, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

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Abstract

Current Best Management Practices (BMPs) only measure past land application of nutrients at Animal Feeding Operations (AFO) and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).  Because the current BMP calculates nutrient application at the end of the year, the CAFO operator finds out if they have over applied CAFO-generated nutrients, when it is too late to adjust nutrient applications.

Over application of nutrients in land application fields limits a CAFO operator’s ability to reuse his/her green water or manure solids as nutrients.  Green water, manure solids, and chemical fertilizers are fungible assets and should be managed as resources, not wastes.  Over application can result in high (>30 ppm) or very high (>50 ppm) soil nitrate concentrations beneath land application fields that must be mined from the soil.  Where there is sufficient hydraulic head in the land application fields, excess nitrate can leach through the soils and root zone to groundwater.    When ground water quality standards are exceeded, the nutrients are being disposed of as wastes rather than reused as a resource and EPA or other regulatory agencies can require costly soils and ground water investigations and abatement/remediation. 

To prevent turning the manure and green water resources into an environmental liability and financial burden, we developed the online CAFOweb software to allow CAFOs to manage their nutrients in real time from the fields.  Real time forecasting works best when all nutrient and water contributions are quantified using chemical analyses of soil and plant tissue coupled with and the meter readings that allow the operator to determine if he is operating at peak efficiency.  The CAFOweb data management and interpretations allow CAFO operators to make informed real time decisions on land application of nutrients at agronomic rates, insuring “wastes” are converted to assets or worth.  Real time management of dairy-generated nutrients retains the value of the CAFO facility for future generations.

Why Develop Software for Managing Manure Nutrients?

Currently BMP calculates nutrient application at the end of the year causing the CAFO operator to find out if they have over applied CAFO-generated nutrients, when it is too late to adjust nutrient applications. We developed CAFOweb as online software to allow CAFOs to manage their nutrients in real time from the fields.

What Did We Do?

To prevent turning the manure and green water resources into an environmental liability and financial burden, we developed the online CAFOweb software to allow CAFOs to manage their nutrients in real time from the fields. 

What Have We Learned?

The best way to preserve the value of your dairy is to predict nutrient application rates.

Future Plans

In the future, we hope to continue monitoring dairies to see how CAFOweb affects CAFO operators in making informed real-time decisions on land application of nutrients at agronomic rates. Also in the plans is developing new modules for CAFOweb to manage other aspects of CAFOs such as freshwater and air quality.

Authors

Tara Vander Dussen, CAFOweb Executive Director, CAFOweb tbone@glorietageo.com

Jay Lazarus, President, Glorieta Geoscience, Inc.; Reddy Ganta, Senior Agronomist, Glorieta Geoscience, Inc.

Additional Information

Acknowledgements

Are there any organizations or individuals (besides the authors) that should be acknowledged?

Staff of CAFOweb

Staff of Glorieta Geoscience, Inc.

 

Predicting Nutrient Application at CAFO Land Application Fields Using CAFOweb from LPE Learning Center

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.