Friday, May 3, 2013

The Smell of Money . . .

or, the lack of. 

Would you believe that in this picture there are thousands of gallons of liquid hog manure flowing by?

Look closely at the ditch. 

Now do you see it? 

Well, you can see a hose but not the actual manure.  While we are busy applying anhydrous ammonia which is our source of nitrogen to our corn fields prior to planting many of our neighbors, who are livestock farmers, are busy applying manure (another great source of nitrogen for corn) to their fields.  This hose is carrying manure from our neighbor's hog building to one of his fields 3 miles away.

It used to be when I was growing up when we would go by someone spreading manure in a field we would get a whiff of the manure and would comment "there is that smell of money".   (It never occurred to us to complain because that was part of living in the country.  Before I get carried away with the topic of home owners who complain about agriculture AFTER buying a home in a rural setting let me get back to my subject at hand.)  But, today we very rarely get that whiff of money because of advances in manure application. 

There are businesses that do custom manure application.  You could say they know their sh%*#.  (I know, cheap joke but I had to throw it in.)  The company comes in and runs the hose from the manure pit to the target field. 

A pumper set up to pull manure from the pit
underneath this hog building.

  Here is another view of the pumper.

The hose is strung along roads in the ditches, threaded
under roads through culverts, and dropped across fields. 

Here are a couple of the spools used to transport the hose.  It's a good thing as I would hate to have to untangle several miles of hose like often happens with extension cords on this farm.

Once the hose is threaded out to the field, the business end of the hose is attached to an applicator that injects or incorporates the manure into the soil.  Even close up to this applicator there is very little oder.  
So here are the cool facts:  This outfit can pump 1.2 million gallons of manure in 24 hours.  That is a lot of fluid! There aren't tractors pulling large manure spreaders up and down the road at all hours so there is less traffic on the roads, it's safer, it's quieter, and there is No Smell. 
By knifing in the manure immediately, the crop to be planted in this field will get full benefit of the nitrogen in this manure.  When manure lays on top of the field for very long some of the nitrogen volatilizes into the atmosphere and the farmer loses some of the manure value.
Sometimes I think this is what our urban neighbors believe is used on today's farms.  But, this is FAR from the truth.  If you look closely at the tractor guiding the manure applicator you will see there is a GPS antenna mounted.  When the manure application is complete, the farmer will probably receive a map of the farm that shows where the manure was applied and how much was applied. 
This is all good for the farmer, his crops, and the environment.

Here are a couple of other pics of the hose that I thought were interesting.

The hose really isn't that big.  The end here is about 4 inches in diameter.

When full the hose looks like one nasty boa constrictor.

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