Manure lagoon being emptied
Written by BILL RYAN, Sentinel Farm Editor
Thursday, 03 July 2014 08:56
WESTON - The manure lagoon located at the former Manders Dairy Farm on Range Line Road is being emptied in preparation for an auction of the property.
|The former Manders Dairy Farm south of Bowling Green, Ohio. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The owner of the property, Dairy Acquisitions I, LLC, has been regularly hauling manure from the lagoon to Napoleon where it is being transferred to a bio-digester.
John Roach, general manager of Roach and Associates, who is overseeing the property for the owners, said they are hauling between 10,000 and 40,000 gallons a day to the digester.
"As of today, we have taken a million gallons out of the lagoon in the past 60 days," Roach said on Wednesday.
Roach said the plan is to have the manure lagoons nearly empty by the time the property is transferred.
In addition he said they will also be removing all the settled sands. There are some settled sand piles on the property including some inside the feed stalls.
"We are being proactive, we realize it's a problem and we fully want to rectify the problem before the ownership changes to new owners," Roach said. It is our goal to completely clean up all the manure by the time of the sale on July 22."
He also indicated the main lagoon is already more than a foot below the required operating level and there should be no danger of any spillage or contamination.
After the winter wheat is harvested, the company has an agreement to apply some of the manure to nearby fields.
The Manders Dairy was abandoned three years ago but the manure pond was never emptied as required by federal law.
The bank, via Dairy Acquisitions, took possession and temporarily had a lease with an option to buy with Zylstra Dairy, LLC. Roach said that lease expired June 30 without the lessees exercising their option to purchase.
Though not operating as a dairy, Zylstra was raising dairy heifers on the property, but all livestock was removed roughly 60 days ago.
There were various complaints regarding the handling of the manure while under the control of the Zylstra Dairy.
According to Brett Gates, spokesperson, for the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Livestock Environmental Permitting Program (LEPP), once the operation ceased to be a dairy, his office had no authority over the operation.
"Oversight would fall to local soil and water district," Gates said.
It was his understanding that the management, either the bank and/or the lessees had been working with the Wood County district.
As for excess or improper application of the manure to the fields, Gates said, "We encourage people to be cognizant of the issues for the betterment of all concerned."
He also stressed the importance of keeping the costs down for the farmer.
Kevin Elder, executive director of ODA's LEPP, noted his office has had little control over that dairy for a long time. Manders had applied for a permit to expand and operate a larger herd at the site, however, nothing was ever done, so those permits expired.
"Nothing was ever constructed, so that is not in our control," Elder said.
As to the dangers of millions of gallons of manure sitting in that pond for years, he replied, "As long as they keep it from discharging, there is not anything to be done."
Aside from the former Manders Dairy, Elder was asked about manure management for the other local dairies.
Elder explained the various regulations regarding manure tests, crop rotations, and yields for manure management. He said they require the owners to "maintain soil tests and manure tests, to help determine how many nutrients are needed. We inspect those records and applications."
They also require them to keep records of what was applied, when it was applied, the soil conditions, moisture condition and how much liquid the soil can soak up. He also noted the need to document the weather forecast and regulations of when manure can be applied based on rain forecasts.
"We inspect all the facilities one to two times per year depending on the results and any complaints filed. If not in compliance we do a re-inspection to be sure they are doing what they need to. We have been able to keep up with that," Elder said.
One recent trend in manure at large operations such as dairies is the sale of the manure to outside entities removing that manure from the control of the livestock operation.
While some consider this an egregious loophole, Elder said it is perfectly legal.
"It is permissible to sell manure to another farm. It's not a permit issue. It's allowed under federal law," Elder said.
He explained the purchaser is now responsible and they must keep the records and that the sale separates that manure from the livestock permit holder.