It’s the smell of spring in farm country — manure! Managing the nutrients in manure continues to be a hot topic of conversation in Wisconsin. Researchers at state universities are working on enhancing management efficiency, such as those at UW-Platteville.
Joe Sanford is an assistant professor of soil and crop science at UW-Platteville. He’s also affiliated with the Dairy Innovation Hub. Sanford has been focused on changing the standard for manure management. His research is focused on precision manure application to increase nutrient use efficiency of the manure that’s going on the ground.
Work that would be of interest to farmers includes technology that improves the placement of manure in fields. Technologies are emerging on the market that will read manure nutrients in real time as opposed to sending composite samples to the lab to receive that information.
Additionally, he has been working with Biochar – an activated charcoal material that can be made from any compostable material. It is used to improve nutrient retention and reduce nitrate leaching in addition to other uses. Sanford wants to see if Biochar can be put in anaerobic digesters to improve the biogas quality.
When asked how far out we are from having these systems in place, Sanford said that they are already on the market. There are manufacturers that already have systems in place yet work must continue to determine what is the best use of the technology and where it is most effective.
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