Two pork producers have found their own unique ways of dealing with the manure issue.
For 15 years, 400-sow producer Dana Scott has employed a custom applicator to haul all the manure from his Logansport, IN, farrow-to-finish operation. He doesn't own any manure handling equipment.
Scott wants it done right. He insists the hauler evenly cover the entire fields, corners and all. "We tell them that's our fertilizer program so don't miss any spots. All we use is a dab of starter fertilizer each spring before planting. We don't use any commercial fertilizer, not even nitrogen," Scott explains.
The Hoosier says his time is too valuable as a pork producer to be spent hauling manure. And the equipment is too expensive to buy then have it sit idle until it's manure removal time again.
So every three to four months, his custom hauler agitates, pumps out and applies the hog manure to Scott's 900 acres of cropland. All manure is knifed into the soil. Neighbors have never complained of odor since he started using the custom hauling program.
These days, Scott grimaces a bit when he figures custom application costs him a penny a gallon of liquid hog manure, $25,000 a year.
But startup costs for a complete manure removal and application system would run him $40,000-50,000.
Elite Pork Partnership is a three-site, 5,000-sow, farrow-to-finish operation based at Carroll, IA. According to partner Craig Rowles, DVM, one of the first things the owners did in setting up the operation a few years ago was to establish a lease arrangement with surrounding landowners for the hog manure that would be produced. "It essentially says that we have the right to spread manure on their ground for the next 10 years," he explains.
That is vital to the operation because each of the 12 production sites only consists of five acres. The operation doesn't own any cropland.
Rowles says the keys are credibility and communication. He has been a resident of Carroll, IA, since 1982, when he joined the Carroll Veterinary Clinic. He knows many people in the agricultural community - and he has earned their trust. He left his clinic position a couple of years ago to start a hog operation.
"We try very hard to make this lease a win-win situation for both sides and constantly communicate to the crop farmers the timing of those manure applications, rates of application and analysis of application," Rowles says.