I had the very good fortune to attend a "Manure Management Evening",
in Newcastle Emlyn last Wednesday. Sponsored by the Cambrian Organic
Group, it was one of a series of events designed to encourage organic
farming in Wales. The program mimicked similar events in other venues
all over the world. A representative of the Environmental Regulator
spoke about legislation, mostly, and a person from a research station
and another from an advisory service spoke briefly about nitrate
cycling and manure handling, respectively. All three suggested the
question period would provide more information than their talks.
In the question period the issue of liquid manure slurries and
what is the best method of dealing with them, kept coming up. I was
surprised to see how closely this problem parallels what we have been
trying to deal with in British Columbia now that organic milk
production is finally coming on stream. In B.C. there are
Certification Committees which are right now trying to make
recommendations to dairy farmers about what is actually "organic
practice" and what is practicable and how to reconcile the two. The
upshot of the question period was an absence of information on this
subject. It was generally agreed that a straw-based bedding system
preferred; but this provides little help for farmers in conversion (or
interested in conversion) who have slurry systems already in place.
Reference was made to Nic Lampkin's book, "Organic Farming", in which
he details the benefits of slurry agitation and aeration. The talk
around the room was that aerating your slurry would send far too much
ammonia into the atmosphere, thereby losing nitrogen and polluting the
air. I know when I turn my compost piles with my front-end-loader,
there is lots of ammonia lost to the air. I just consider it part of
My questions to Sanet. Can a liquid manure slurry be made to compost?
Can slurry be transformed into a stable (or more stable) product so
that there is not the enormous ammonia escape associated with
spreading it? What about injecting it? (I've heard anecdotal evidence
that this is hard on soil fauna)
I know there are organic dairy farms in the Midwestern States and
Ontario and Quebec with much more experience dealing with this problem
than we have had. What do you do?
Paddy Doherty President, Certified Organic Associations of B.C.
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