Connecticut has more manure nutrients than we need for our crops. UConn Extension Educator Rich Meinert and two summer interns spent Friday “sugaring” manure. Just like maple growers sugar sap by boiling away the water we will be sugaring liquid dairy manure from a screw press separator to remove the water so that we can quantify the mass and more importantly the volume of the material that remains. In order to plan a meaningful strategy to move nutrients off of Connecticut farms and onto crops somewhere else, either in Connecticut or beyond, we need to know how much quantity we are talking about.
UConn Extension has taken delivery of a new manure spreader. This spreader is not your typical manure spreader. This spreader has gone hi tech with integrated scales, computer and GPS. Unlike a typical spreader which requires the farmer to guess how much manure is being loaded, and keep handwritten records of how many loads went to which fields, this spreader will do all of the recordkeeping for the farmer, on its own. The integral load cells provide the weight. The computer records the amount. When the PTO shaft starts to turn the computer records the GPS position to begin documenting where on the face of the globe the manure is being applied. As successive GPS positions get are recorded and the weight starts decreasing the computer calculates the application rate in tons/acre on the fly. Using this technology a farm will be able to print a map of the data showing exactly how much manure went on every field.
Extension Educator Richard Meinert purchased the spreader using a Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA NRCS. The grant supported the purchase of the spreader to allow farmers to use the spreader on their own farms. The purpose of the grant research is to document the effectiveness of the spreader and the electronics. Once the effect of the spreader is determined an economic analysis will be conducted using data from the farm applications to calculate the payback period of the technology. Eventually all farms with more than a few livestock will need to purchase a manure spreader. The question to be answered is will the increase efficiency save enough in fertilizer, or increased crop yield, or decreased recordkeeping time to pay for the extra $6,000 needed to add the scales, computer and GPS to a standard spreader?
Anyone interested in using the spreader to try it out as part of the grant project is asked to contact Richard Meinert by phone at 860-626-6240 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.