Reducing Odor Complaints from Manure Applications
What is that smell! In this episode of the Cropwatch Podcast Michael and Rick Koelsch talk about avoiding odor complaints from manure applications. Listen in, because nobody likes being blindsided by odor.
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[00:00:02.940]Welcome to CropWatch Podcast,
[00:00:05.410]a production of Nebraska Extension.
[00:00:12.300]Welcome to CropWatch Podcast.
[00:00:14.020]I'm Michael Sindelar, cropping systems extension educator.
[00:00:17.160]Today I'm gonna be joined by Rick Koelsch
[00:00:21.280]who's works for the University,
[00:00:23.500]and we're gonna be talking about manure.
[00:00:26.290]Kind of manure applications
[00:00:28.130]from the standpoint of how do we keep
[00:00:30.460]odor nuisance scores down?
[00:00:32.130]How are you doing today, Rick?
[00:00:33.980]I'm doing great.
[00:00:34.840]Thank you for the chance to reason with you today, Mike.
[00:00:37.660]Oh, it's no problem I enjoy reasoning with people.
[00:00:40.610]And this is your first time on,
[00:00:42.870]what's your role at the university here in Nebraska?
[00:00:49.080]I work in the biological systems engineering
[00:00:52.560]and animal science departments
[00:00:54.040]and I work on environmental issues
[00:00:56.160]relative to animal production.
[00:01:01.170]So when we look at, you know, odor nuisances from manure
[00:01:07.540]this is one of those where...
[00:01:09.280]I don't know to me, it seems challenging
[00:01:11.100]'cause manure just smells when you think about it.
[00:01:14.940]It's not something that you can magically apply X product
[00:01:18.550]and you no longer have stinky manure.
[00:01:21.309]So what tools do we have out there,
[00:01:25.100]when people are thinking about making an application
[00:01:27.760]to try to keep these, you know, the odor in place
[00:01:31.500]so that it's not bothering people that live near?
[00:01:34.770]Sure, Well Mike I think we're all aware
[00:01:37.830]that this next couple of months is a good time
[00:01:40.910]for applying manure.
[00:01:42.350]You know, our soils temperatures are getting low
[00:01:45.180]so, we don't lose our nitrogen.
[00:01:47.710]The fields are dry, so we don't have compaction.
[00:01:50.170]So, a great time to be thinking about
[00:01:51.950]starting to apply manure.
[00:01:54.680]From an older perspective,
[00:01:57.390]probably if we have the option
[00:02:00.540]to incorporate the manure into the soil
[00:02:02.900]that's probably our number one thing we would like to do.
[00:02:07.990]And certainly with our slurry and liquid manures,
[00:02:13.280]When we're dealing more with our dry manures,
[00:02:15.450]like our feedlot manure or appropriate litter
[00:02:19.310]you know, we're often putting those on fields
[00:02:21.210]where we're trying to maintain that residue cover
[00:02:23.270]so incorporation isn't always an option.
[00:02:27.410]And so we need to look beyond that far,
[00:02:29.320]especially some of our drier manures.
[00:02:33.613]So, our concern is less with swine
[00:02:39.390]and maybe more with some of that feedlot and the poultry,
[00:02:45.970]when we're looking to apply that,
[00:02:49.530]you know, what we're looking for site selection?
[00:02:52.610]You know, 'cause the first thing I think about is,
[00:02:54.880]if you can apply it away from people
[00:02:57.420]or where you apply it and you apply it,
[00:02:59.650]that might be one way to help reduce that.
[00:03:03.380]What are we looking for site selection
[00:03:05.000]at least from odor standpoint?
[00:03:07.530]Not some of the other issues that go into applying manure.
[00:03:10.720]Sure, well I think we're all aware that,
[00:03:14.800]we're looking for a site that has a few neighbors
[00:03:18.500]is practical and that's harder and harder to find
[00:03:22.900]because you know, we'd still like to get manure out
[00:03:25.440]to as many fields as possible.
[00:03:27.060]So, I think rather than putting a lot of emphasis
[00:03:32.080]on trying to get only the fields that have few neighbors,
[00:03:36.030]I'd rather see people using a weather report
[00:03:40.460]to decide when a neighbor might be at risk
[00:03:44.730]and when a neighbor will not be at risk.
[00:03:46.660]And I think by just a quick examination
[00:03:49.620]of a couple of things
[00:03:51.080]in you know, in the next three to five day
[00:03:55.400]we can eliminate a lot of our odors.
[00:03:58.330]So, shall we jump into a little bit of that discussion,
[00:04:01.900]how we use a weather report for that purpose?
[00:04:04.510]Well first off,
[00:04:05.860]why are we looking at a weather report?
[00:04:07.560]What is it about odor that we need a weather report for
[00:04:13.240]to make this decision?
[00:04:14.550]Okay, that's a really good question Mike.
[00:04:19.110]You know, it's hard to visualize how odor disperses
[00:04:22.960]and it's diluted out so the neighbors don't notice it.
[00:04:26.080]I like to ask people to visualize
[00:04:29.190]that odor cloud that we produced when we spread manure,
[00:04:33.530]we're agitating the storage
[00:04:35.490]being very much like a smoke cloud.
[00:04:38.520]So think of you know,
[00:04:40.497]a fire that you've seen off on the horizon
[00:04:42.440]and smoke rising from that fire.
[00:04:44.750]When does that smoke cloud tend to disperse
[00:04:47.510]to higher and higher elevations
[00:04:50.230]and stay away from the people that are on the ground level?
[00:04:55.970]That occurs mainly when we see air warming, right?
[00:05:03.180]Air becomes more buoyant, it's moving up, it's rising.
[00:05:06.410]So, during the middle of the day, air is often rising,
[00:05:11.320]even on a cloudy day like today,
[00:05:14.730]that temperature is still rising several degrees
[00:05:17.280]and so that creates a buoyancy and that odor cloud
[00:05:20.570]or that smoke cloud tends to move further and further away
[00:05:23.680]from the Earth surface.
[00:05:26.410]Our challenge, think about when that smoke cloud
[00:05:30.210]just sets on the surface of the Earth,
[00:05:33.330]maybe follows the wind direction
[00:05:35.160]and you see it kinda traveling laterally for long distances
[00:05:39.300]and not getting mixed.
[00:05:40.820]When do you think that occurs, Mike?
[00:05:44.660]this is taking me back to pesticide applications.
[00:05:47.070]I'm gonna guess this is when we have those cool times
[00:05:49.900]where our winds below five miles per hour.
[00:05:53.390]Low wind speeds
[00:05:54.990]and when that air is cooling, right?
[00:05:58.093]Yeah and when we see air cooling,
[00:06:00.530]that air stays right near the ground surface.
[00:06:03.120]And so, we have a smoke source.
[00:06:06.870]We see that smoke cloud just traveling
[00:06:09.350]right along the surface of the Earth.
[00:06:11.670]Well that odor cloud is very much the same.
[00:06:15.920]In those evening, nighttime hours as that air is cooling,
[00:06:20.150]it travels right along the surface of the Earth
[00:06:23.150]and that's really our high risk conditions.
[00:06:25.210]So, we have that in mind, we can then begin to think
[00:06:29.610]of what we look at in a weather forecast
[00:06:31.740]and how do we avoid some of these challenges?
[00:06:34.810]Maybe we can jump into that in a minute or two.
[00:06:37.070]Oh yeah, so now we know that, you know,
[00:06:39.870]odor has a cloud and we need to try to think about
[00:06:42.880]how that odor is gonna move similar to other operations
[00:06:45.840]that we do in a farming operation.
[00:06:49.450]So, how long does this odor stay around?
[00:06:52.730]'Cause you were saying multiple days.
[00:06:55.820]'Cause I'm guessing this is gonna play in part
[00:06:57.700]for why those weather reports are important
[00:07:00.000]as for how long we have to worry about this odor.
[00:07:02.960]Sure, well one thing
[00:07:06.740]in terms of how long it sticks to round
[00:07:13.040]the trick is to get that manure to dry out
[00:07:15.730]as quick as possible.
[00:07:17.760]So if we've got from the time we've applied it
[00:07:20.730]to when we have our higher risk situation,
[00:07:24.720]if we've got some good drying time that's the ideal,
[00:07:27.980]let's get that manure dry.
[00:07:30.480]I like to tell people I'd like to...
[00:07:32.740]After we have land applied manure,
[00:07:34.560]I'd like to have a good day's period
[00:07:38.020]where that manure is drying
[00:07:39.560]and being exposed to the sunshine.
[00:07:41.400]So, if I see I'm gonna apply today,
[00:07:46.570]I'm worried about my neighbors around my field tonight,
[00:07:50.300]where tomorrow night I may not be worried about them
[00:07:53.330]if I've had a good day of drying tomorrow.
[00:07:56.850]So a good 24 hours of drying
[00:07:59.980]is helpful to minimize that problem.
[00:08:03.750]All right, well you know,
[00:08:04.590]that makes sense right now with how dry it is
[00:08:07.600]that 24 hours to work.
[00:08:09.680]I could see maybe other times in the spring
[00:08:11.440]when we have rain that, that could be more of a challenge.
[00:08:14.860]If we've got rainfall in our forecast
[00:08:18.170]or just damp wet conditions, moist conditions,
[00:08:22.160]then we're not gonna get that drying
[00:08:23.880]and we'll have odor extend for a longer period.
Okay, go ahead.
[00:08:30.200]Yo, no problem.
[00:08:31.100]So we've kinda built up to it
[00:08:33.180]what do we actually wanna pull out of our weather reports?
[00:08:35.760]What information are we looking for?
[00:08:40.040]So the next thing I look at is,
[00:08:43.420]let's say I wanna apply manure to a field today
[00:08:47.590]and I'm worried about those neighbor this evening.
[00:08:51.380]So I'm looking for those,
[00:08:54.170]during those evening and nighttime hours
[00:08:57.600]what is the wind speed during that period?
[00:09:02.690]When does also a good force to dilute odors out?
[00:09:07.250]But it's those calm wind speeds
[00:09:09.410]those speeds we'd say generally under 10 mile per hour,
[00:09:13.500]that allow that odor cloud to stay concentrated.
[00:09:17.520]So I'm gonna look at the wind speed for this evening's hours
[00:09:21.120]tonight's hours I'm seeing under 10 miles per hour
[00:09:25.370]and I'm a little bit concerned
[00:09:26.950]about the odor risk this evening.
[00:09:31.010]So now that I see that lower wind speeds,
[00:09:33.880]then the next thing I look at is wind direction.
[00:09:38.510]It's also important as you remember that smoke cloud,
[00:09:42.710]traveling along the surface of the Earth
[00:09:45.450]during those evening hours, it doesn't go,
[00:09:48.610]it always follows the direction of the Earth.
[00:09:51.913]The direction of the wind, I mean
[00:09:53.990]and so that odor cloud does also.
[00:09:56.390]So if that wind is forecast to come out of,
[00:10:00.440]let's say the Northwest pretty common in this time in years,
[00:10:05.120]that wind is coming out of the Northwest.
[00:10:07.930]My neighbors to the Southeast of my field
[00:10:12.550]would be at the highest risk.
[00:10:15.440]My neighbors to the North of this field,
[00:10:17.880]or my neighbors to the West of this field,
[00:10:20.480]they're not gonna experience much of any risk at all.
[00:10:24.160]So now I start looking at fields
[00:10:26.650]I might be considering applying to,
[00:10:28.620]and if I truly have that high risk of odor tonight,
[00:10:33.760]and I see the wind is out of the Northwest,
[00:10:37.070]I'd like to pick a field that doesn't have any neighbors
[00:10:40.960]to the South and East to that field
[00:10:45.370]within let's say a half mile or so.
[00:10:49.560]And when you look at the weather reports,
[00:10:52.550]are you just looking for that evening
[00:10:54.140]or are you looking for that day
[00:10:56.190]and the following day when you're making that decision?
[00:10:59.730]I'm really just looking
[00:11:00.940]at those evening hours Mike.
[00:11:03.440]Because during the day, you know,
[00:11:06.380]as that air is warming and as being more buoyant,
[00:11:11.330]It's those evening hours, you know,
[00:11:13.330]from you know, roughly booked
[00:11:15.980]just before the sun is setting through the nighttime.
[00:11:19.220]That's the time I'm looking at those wind directions.
[00:11:22.530]What direction they blowing during those times?
[00:11:26.770]And then trying to pick a field that doesn't have a neighbor
[00:11:30.670]in that direction.
[00:11:34.440]So we did talk a little bit briefly about moisture.
[00:11:39.230]Is that a concern
[00:11:40.756]when you're looking through the weather reports
[00:11:43.050]for at least odor issues?
[00:11:46.440]You know, we understand that humidity
[00:11:49.300]has some bearing on odor.
[00:11:51.650]But I really think the two things I would focus on
[00:11:56.238]are the evening hours
[00:11:58.730]and low wind speeds
[00:12:02.180]to identify the high risk times.
[00:12:04.280]I think those are by far the most important.
[00:12:07.240]And then during those high risk times,
[00:12:09.640]what's the direction of the wind.
[00:12:11.890]So that would be the things I would focus on
[00:12:13.930]in that weather forecast.
[00:12:19.120]Well we've talked quite a bit about, you know,
[00:12:22.440]what to do when you're at least trying to minimize
[00:12:25.340]some of those odor issues.
[00:12:27.750]Which some people may think is not a big issue,
[00:12:30.110]but you'll be surprised at how many people actually
[00:12:33.550]are now making this part of their decision,
[00:12:36.640]because they don't want to make their neighbors
[00:12:38.750]or their communities around them mad at them.
[00:12:43.830]I think we all wanna be good neighbors,
[00:12:45.220]and this is just a very simple practice to put in place,
[00:12:49.970]you know, to maintain that good neighbor attitude
[00:12:55.230]in your community.
[00:12:58.910]So, do you have any articles
[00:13:03.120]or any other sources of information that
[00:13:06.842]people that are interested in this topic
[00:13:08.220]could look at and access?
[00:13:14.450]We have published our articles on this,
[00:13:17.250]on our manure website.
[00:13:19.320]It's called manure.unl.edu.
[00:13:25.490]And it's been a year or two since we published this,
[00:13:29.230]but if you just did a search on timing manure application,
[00:13:35.090]it would come up on the top of your list.
[00:13:37.170]So, manure.unl.edu, and search on timing manure application,
[00:13:43.430]we'll get you to the information we just visited about.
[00:13:48.240]Well, thanks for joining us today.
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