What we Currently Know Concerning the Practice of Spray Irrigation of Manure

Pictured: Traveling Gun spray irrigating manure.

-In the practice of spray irrigation of manure, aerosolized lagoon waste is reduced into smaller particulate droplets, which are easily ingested and inhaled by humans and animals.

– The Clean Air Task Force claims, “that among airborne particles, the smallest (fine) particles are of gravest concern because they can be inhaled deeply, absorbed into the bloodstream, and transported to vital organs”. The hazard of these particles in the air come with the increased threats of asthma, COPD issues, heart and pulmonary problems, in addition to the high risk groups of the young, elderly and immune compromised individuals.

-Manure has over 160 different known pathogens, viruses and bacteria, and includes barn cleaners and their chemical make-up, antibiotics, hormones and may contain municipal and/or industrial wastes. The DNR allows 10% of a lagoon’s capacity to be industrial wastes. These may include Cheese wastes high in chlorides, lime slurry, cattle truck wash, rendering, slaughterhouse & mink ranch wastes of blood, hair, paunch [stomach/intestine contents of slaughtered animals] etc., chemical barn cleaners, copper sulfates [foot wash], among other industrial chemicals. While some of these wastes are considered “organic in nature”, they are highly pathogenic and full of disease.

-All lagoon wastes should be incorporated into the ground immediately to diminish the risks from these wastes, and the pathogens and diseases they may contain.

-Becky Larson of UW Madison stated, “that transmission of pathogens through airborne routes is unknown and controversial”.

Becky also stated that several meteorological factors complicate the practice of spray irrigation of manure including wind, humidity, temperature, and precipitation.

-Mark Borchardt USDA-ARS Institute for the Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Study revealed that the “bulk of pathogens reside in the liquid portion of manure”, the portion that would be spray irrigated.

Borchardt also stated that there are three forms of transmission of pathogens:

1) Fomites: objects or materials that are likely to carry infections; surfaces; ie yard furniture, outdoor children’s toys etc.

2) water

3) food.

These are three areas of great concern and run the risk of contamination from this practice due to the reality of drift.

-All parties seem to be in agreement that there is just too much that we simply “don’t know” about this practice and more research must be done addressing the potential health and environmental risks associated with the practice of spray irrigating manure.

-Spray irrigation of manure will expose citizens to heightened ammonias and hydrogen sulfide fumes and stench that could continue for the duration of 10 continuous hours, a day, at a time.

-Uninformed citizens and individuals in the spray vicinity risk exposure unknowingly by simply being outdoors and doing normal, recreational activities.

-Many parts of Kewaunee are known as “wind belts” and recognized as such by the Meteorological Society.

-DATCAP has extolled the virtues of “spoon-feeding crops”, less “road traffic and damages”, and “less soil compaction”, with this practice.

DATCAP also wanted to call this type of application of manure, “Precision application of ‘nutrients’”. This terminology was discussed by the state manure workgroup where it was stated that there is “absolutely nothing precision about this practice, and that it should not be called precision anything”.

Precision, as described in the dictionary states: precise; definite-exactness; correctness of arrangement or adjustment. This is not, nor can this practice be applied with unequivocal precision. It is impossible even under the best of controlled conditions.

-Fugitive emissions, emissions that cannot be captured or controlled, are one of the greatest threats for this form of manure disposal.

-The DNR has stated, “Measurable drift will be defined as feeling droplets hit ones skin or visually seeing droplets on a pick-up truck windshield”. [Permit language in
DNR documents, May 2013].

-Devastated residents living near operations that are currently doing this practice have written letters and spoken publically, revealing the problems posed by this practice, which include residues, stench, flies, plunging home values, and over-all diminishing quality of life issues.

-More research has come out on superbugs, antibiotic resistant diseases, and pathogens such as MRSA , which travels through air-borne routes. More and more studies are being revealed indicating airborne transport for many diseases.

-Children, the elderly, immune-suppressed individuals, asthma and COPD patients will be greatly affected including persons with pulmonary/heart issues.

Children will be tremendously impacted as they have a greater number of rapid respirations per minute than adults, and tend to mouth breathe. They would have the greatest exposure due to their size and inability to detoxify as readily as an adult. These youngest and most vulnerable citizens represent our future and deserve our FULL protection.

-Crops as tall as 8 feet high would be considered for the practice of spray irrigation of manure increasing drift possibilities and increased exposure possibilities to residents.

-This is not a widely accepted practice in our state of Wisconsin, with only 7 farms currently using spray irrigation of manure. In other states, such as North Carolina,

a ban currently prohibits any new permits on this practice.

-In the Province of Ontario, Canada, “spray irrigation of liquid manure has been responsible for at least 40% of the manure spills in the Province over the past decade”. [High
level spray irrigation of manure in Ontario].

-Maximum wind speeds must be set, with automatic shut-offs when those speeds are obtained.

-There should be computer monitoring of all mechanical systems, to reduce risks due to mechanical failure.

-Please read Wisconsin state toxicologist Robert Thiboldeaux’s Memo from February 17, 2011, relating to “Public Health Setbacks for manure spray irrigation”.

-Drift is a reality. Currently in Wisconsin grape growers are suffering the results, and loss of grapes, and profits, due to the drift of herbicides. Lawsuits are ensuing in response to this problem. Drift, when it leaves one property is trespassing on another landowner’s rights. This article ran in the Green Bay Press Gazette, business section on 9-21-2013 .

-Current set backs from homes is 500 feet. These setbacks can be reduced to 250 feet, with landowner permission.

-There are no current setbacks for roadway areas or property lines.

-There is no differentiating between different irrigation equipment, and its effects on drift.

-Air emissions are not taken into consideration– and are not regulated at all. Research shows heightened emissions with this form of manure disposal, with 50% more ammonia volatilized with spray irrigation equipment.

-Permits are currently not written with standards that guarantee enforcement.

-This form of manure disposal is not necessary. It is low cost, easy disposal, for an industry producing an unsustainable amount of wastes for our land base. Currently Kewaunee County has 85% of our farmlands in Nutrient Management Plans [NMP’s].

-Health Departments, such as the Kewaunee Health Department, state, “At this time, the local health department will be looking to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for guidance on the use of spray irrigation” of manure. [April 8, 2013]


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