With a November 2013 deadline looming for compliance with the province’s manure phosphorus regulations, the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) continues to look for solutions.
In a recent call for proposals, the organization invited applications for projects examining commercially available technologies for storing, distributing, and making value-added use of the phosphorus-rich solid component of livestock manure.
“Now that we’ve satisfied ourselves that it’s conceivable to do manure separation under Manitoba conditions, the next step is to determine the best possible uses, management practices and economics of dealing with the solids that come out of separation,” said John Carney, executive director of the MLMMI.
Because manure separation is costly and requires additional equipment and handling, producers in areas affected by the new regulations should look first at feed-based solutions such as phytase for reducing the phosphorus content of manure.
After that, they should examine their cropping and field management practices with an eye on mopping up more P by choosing crops that offer greater uptake of the nutrient.
“Only after you have exhausted all those avenues, should you look at some kind of manure management solution,” said Carney.
Commercially available solutions that have turned a waste-handling problem into a revenue-generating byproduct of livestock production exist in other jurisdictions such as Iowa, but whether they are workable in Manitoba isn’t yet clear, he added.
“We’re looking at tools in the tool box — alternatives that are evaluated and proven — that producers can turn to and consider.”
Transporting manure more than a few miles is expensive, and after the 2013 deadline, some areas will face restrictions on further spreading based on crop removal rates. Manure-processing systems that remove more than 50 per cent of the P and produce separated solids that are 20 to 60 per cent dry matter reduce the bulk, and therefore shipping costs, he added.
With legislation restricting manure phosphorus application to crop removal rates in place since 2008, why is MLMMI calling for commercially available proposals so late in the game?
“The reality is that this is a process, not an event,” said Carney, adding research is being conducted in conjunction with a wide field of stakeholders, not just LMMI.
“I think a measured approach is the best way to spend money.”