Podcast: Harnessing Manure for Modern Farming
29 Apr 2420m 33s

In the future, you may be using concentrated manure as a starter fertilizer on your planter. Even if you’re not close to a livestock operation, manure may become a part of your annual fertilizer application. So says Kurt Grimm of NutraDrip whose irrigation company is deploying new methods to extract value from manure while making the livestock by-product more easily used by crop farmers. Kurt joins XA's Kelly Garrett and Damian Mason for this forward looking discussion.

00:00 Is there a manure technology that can replace synthetic fertilizer, making manure more usable in your soils? 00:07 That's one of the things we're gonna be talking about in this episode, oft extreme ag cutting the curve. 00:13 Welcome to extreme Ag Cutting the Curve podcast, where you get a guaranteed return on investment of your time as we cut your learning curve 00:22 with the information you can apply to your farming operation immediately. Extreme ag, we've already made the mistakes 00:30 so you don't have to. Managing your farm's water resources is a critical component to a successful and sustainable farming operation. 00:40 Advanced drainage systems helps farmers just like you increase their yields up to 30% with their technologically advanced water 00:48 management products. Visit ad s pipe.com to see how they can keep your business flowing. Now, here's your host, Damian Mason. Hey there. 00:58 Welcome to another fantastic episode of Extre Ice. Cutting the Curve. I've got Kelly Garrett of Garrett Land and Cattle on here, and I've got Kurt 01:05 Grimm with Nut Nutri Drip. Kurt posed something to me the other day. He said, you know what? There's some pretty cool stuff we're 01:11 doing where we're oxygenating and aerating liquid manure on these farms and these pits, and we're getting more fertile fer 01:18 fertilizer boost out of it. We're even doing this thing where we're extracting down a manure and it actually almost is 01:25 replacing synthetic fertilizer. And I said, that sounds like a heck of a topic because where I see things going. 01:30 So Kurt, first off, tell me about the technology that you're even talking about that you're doing. You're, you're essentially making manure, 01:35 which we've been using for decades, years, centuries, millennia, um, as a fertilizer. But you're talking about making it more valuable 01:43 and better utilizing it. This plays right into something that Kelly and I talked about in our first six months together 01:48 with Extreme Mag that we said we've always treated manure like crap. So it's kind of the same concept here. Go. 01:57 Yeah. So we're doing a, a couple different things. Um, first of all, the manure separation where we're separating liquids from solids, um, 02:07 and we're doing that at a level that allows us to use the manure through a subsurface drip irrigation system, you know, 02:15 which is kind of hard to believe. 'cause a a drip emitter is very small. The filtration requirement is like 120 mesh. 02:23 So it's similar to having it clean enough to go through your sprayer, but we found some technology that is allowing us to separate that manure to that level, 02:34 actually beyond that level and and remove the solids. Most of the nitrogen, the potassium is still in the liquid. Um, and it's allowing us to apply that manure 02:44 underneath the ground during the growing season. There's no smell, there's no runoff risk. Um, there's just a lot of really good benefits to putting 02:53 that manure right where it belongs. Kelly, uh, you're kind of, kind of a, you're kind of a fan of manure. 03:01 You have cattle. Uh, they're not like an intensive operation like Kurt's talking about, which would be more of the dairies 03:08 and the hog facilities where they've got pits. But you're a big proponent of manure anyhow. Is this where we're gonna get smarter and better? 03:16 'cause it seems to me it's time to get smarter and better about utilizing this source, and we're already better than we were 50 years ago. 03:22 Yep. We used to just, you know, treat it like a byproduct and like get rid of it. Exactly. Manure 03:28 through drip is great when you consider the, let's just look at it from a financial aspect of buying the tractor, buying the manure applicator, uh, 03:37 which that, that investment alone would pay for quite a few acres of drip irrigation. And then when we look at the compaction of the soil, 03:45 by taking that manure out there, when you look at making the neighbors irritated because of the smell, things like that, by putting 03:52 that manure, the liquid portion of it, at least through the drip irrigation throughout the season, the application process is better. 03:59 You're getting it below the surface of the ground, much more sustainable. Um, it's a win-win situation. 04:05 There's nothing here to be unhappy about. It is a big improvement over a current application process. First question that somebody's gonna ask, 04:13 and we'll get to the technology that you're talking about, Kurt, y you know, 04:17 but the, the, the, the real big picture stuff about squeezing it down, and you told me before we hit record yesterday, 04:24 we're talking about making it like a, the equivalent of, I don't know, 10, 10 26 or some fertilizer number. 04:30 But the, before we get into that, the things you're doing on these farms, we're not talking about beef cows out, you know, running 04:36 around on the hills like Kelly's, we're talking about going to the dairies and the hog facilities 04:40 where we've got confined animal feeding operations or confined dairy production facilities. Lots of manure in one place, most of which is water. 04:47 So talk about the separation and then the oxygenation and how you're getting more bang for the buck on that manure. 04:54 Right. So most of these are, the systems we're working with are either gonna be lagoons or deep pits underneath the barn. 05:00 So in a lot of hog confinement and even beef confinement, um, there's a lot of barns out there with, they 05:05 have deep pits underneath of them. So they've got a solids component that's, let's say eight to 12% solids. 05:13 We're going through a two step separation process where we're going through a screw press first that takes out the, the big solids, 05:20 and then we're going through what's called a micro filter, which takes out the small particles. 05:25 One of the, one of the big benefits is a lot of livestock operations are getting, um, squeezed on phosphorus 05:32 and they're, they're, they're building up phosphorus close to their, their facilities because for years and years 05:39 and years, they've just done what's easy. They put the manure out close to the, the buildings and, and those levels have built up over time 05:46 through the separation process. We're putting a lot of those solids, um, there, it, the solids get into a dry form 05:56 that is similar consistency to corn silage. So you can stack it, you can haul it. Now you have the ability to take a dry material 06:03 and haul it to a field that's 10 or 20 miles away and basically spread that, that manure out farther and get more bang for your buck. 06:10 So that's kind of the, the separation component, um, um, of what we're doing. What about at this point about, okay, the separation. 06:18 So the point is you're just, it's more efficient. You, you know, you're, you're, you're taking the water one way and then the solids. 06:24 So one of the com one of the inefficiencies in livestock production is hauling water as manure. 06:31 Uh, you know, you're talking about you're getting rid of the water component and keeping back the solid. So if you're gonna truck stuff four 06:37 or five miles at least you're trucking stuff that's got more nutritive value per pound, you're trucking the concentrate. 06:43 Yeah. Right. Um, what just thing about the, the, you did something experiment on a pit where you oxygenated or something like that. 06:52 Can you go a little in depth on that? Right, okay. So one of the, we had a customer come to us, um, from South Dakota 06:59 and they were interested in, they were building a new hog barn and they wanted to agitate the pit. 07:05 And there was, there's some technology in Europe where they, they agitate it 07:09 and it lowers the ammonia that is leaving the barn. So ammonia that when you walk into a hog barn or beef confinement barn, the, the stuff 07:19 that burns your nose, that's ammonia, which is nitrogen, that's going back in the atmosphere. 07:24 And, and so by aerating the, the pit, um, it's allowing that nitrogen to stay in the liquid. So the nitrogen value in the manure, um, 07:36 will be somewhere in that 50% increase over the current nitrogen value. So it's a, it's basically adding more nitrogen, uh, 07:45 or holding more nitrogen into the manure versus allowing it to escape for the atmosphere. 07:49 So there's this big greenhouse gas reduction. Um, the pit is easier to pump. It never has to be agitated, 07:55 it's not gonna build up with solids. So there's all kinds of side benefits that, that happen along with that. 08:01 Um, but, but really it's, it's allowing the, the producer to add value to their manure 08:06 by keeping the nitrogen in the pit. Yeah. So what you said, you first, you first you corrected yourself, 08:11 you said it adds nitrogen to it. No, it retains nitrogen versus alignments escapes firstly. Secondly, just like the other episode we've recorded 08:19 where we talked about knowing your soil's moisture level, I threw it out to Kelly. I said, this is where the future goes. 08:25 He's, I quote Kelly all the time, I don't know if you ever noticed this, Kurt, that's a good idea. 08:30 I just walk around. I mean, like, sometimes I'm walking through an airport and I just walk up to some stranger and I say, did you hear what Kelly Garrett said? 08:36 And then, you know what they always say? They say, who the hell are you and why are you talking to me? That's what they always say, but anyway, um, 08:44 get outta my face before I call security. Put you on a no fly list. Anyway, he said, the, the convergence 08:52 of sustainable practices and high yield practices is coming. In fact, they're already converging. 08:57 So this, it used to be this idea that high yield meant high resource burn, high, uh, carbon footprint, you know, burning diesel 09:06 bad practices to get big yields. We're now on the path of high yield to sustainability due converge. 09:12 And I agree wholeheartedly with that. This is right there along those lines. We've got this new nitrogen and nitrates 09:19 and nitrous oxide are kinda like the new boogeyman. Uh, you know, that's where we are in ag. If we're retaining that nitrogen in these manure pits, 09:28 first off makes it better breathing for the humans and the animals in those facilities. But secondly, we're eliminating a greenhouse gas 09:36 that has become a bullseye on agriculture. And we get the sustainability, we get the pollution reduction, and we get the benefit of the stuff staying in 09:46 that, that liquid that then goes into fields all through agitation. This seems too easy, 09:54 It does seem too easy, but, um, that, that's really what we're learning and we're still figuring out how 10:00 to get paid for all that, right? Like there should be some, some, some funding out there to help us, uh, implement this practice 10:07 because we are doing all of those things. Um, but those are, those are some of the next, um, hurdles we have to get over is 10:13 how do we get the farmer paid, um, with some of this green money that, that wants to, to improve our footprint? 10:21 Well, that's good, but if it, if there's a fertility benefit and, uh, you know, maybe there shouldn't, 10:27 would it work without the, without the payment? I guess A hundred percent. A hundred percent, yep. Kelly, I was gonna ask you a question, 10:34 but since I run around quoting you, I'm just gonna toss it to you and I'll say something quotable. 10:38 Just say something intelligently quotable. Lay it on me. Oh, you just want me to come up? You're not even gonna ask a question. Alright. Yeah. 10:46 The, uh, you doing this with the manure, putting it through the irrigation is agronomic and it's sustainable. 10:55 So it should improve the farmer's CI score. And I feel that the carbon space, the sustainable space is moving towards 11:05 validating a CI score up and down the supply chain, looking at the traceability of every product, every commodity. 11:13 And, and corn is our product, our commodity, obviously our primary one soybeans are in there. And by, by putting the manure on in this way, 11:21 by irrigating in this way, just like we've talked about in another episode with Kurt, the, uh, soil moisture probes, 11:28 things like that, controlling. So all of those things are sustainable practices. This included that should improve the CI score of the farm. 11:36 And if the space keeps moving in the direction it, it appears that it will, that'll be valuable. And that will could be a way that the farmer gets paid 11:44 because he has a better CI score. All right, we're gonna go into manure technology that might just replace synthetic fertilizer. 11:51 We've been talking a lot about practice, we've talking about better utilization, you know, and I wanna get into that before I do, I want to, 11:56 while we're talking about fertility, dear farmer, you work hard at keeping your fields fertility levels up, but fertility is unavailable or underutilized. 12:03 You are wasting your money. Loveland products and industry leader in bio catalyst products, including products like Titan XC extract 12:11 and accomplish max release fertility for healthy high yielding crops, visit loveland products.com to increase your results. 12:19 All right? The knock on for manure is gonna be the person that says, I'm not close to a livestock facility, 12:25 so I'll never be able to get rid of, uh, synthetic fertilizer. So you've talked about a couple things. 12:31 Some of your technologies, Kurt, make it, and some of these things are coming, make it so that you can go further with the product. 12:37 Right? Right. So I want, here's what I want you to think about. So if we've got this manure clean enough to go 12:44 through a subsurface drip irrigation system, it's, it's by far clean enough to go on a, on a planter as a starter fertilizer or in a sprayer as a foliar. 12:56 If, if so, think about the, the benefit of being able to dribble 10 gallon an acre or 20 gallon an acre of hog manure, um, through, 13:06 through your planter and replace the 10 34 oh, or maybe the, the popup that you're putting in, in furrow. So just, just ideas. Is it 13:15 Concentrated enough? How do we, is the product concentrated enough to do that? Because as I'm thinking, I'm like, 13:21 well, that'd be a cool idea. 'cause you're saying the technology's there to do that. But Kelly's saying, I'm not sure I'm replacing a true 13:26 starter fertilizer by dribbling 10 gallons of hog. No, I hadn't considered this, but I do agree with Kurt. It's not as concentrated as the 10 34. Oh. 13:35 But it's gonna be, I'll tell you, I believe it's 10 times more available. So the lack of concentration is made up for 13:42 by the availability And what ares gonna be, what are the synergies gonna be with the biological products or the sugars, you know? 13:52 Yep. Being able to, to help jumpstart some of those products. The carbons. Yep. Right. 13:56 The IC and the fulvic and combining those, I think there's gonna be some, some synergistic benefits. 14:01 So just starting, you think outside the box of All the things that Kurt just listed are in that manure, the sugars, the microbials, the biologicals, 14:11 the carbon products, all that's already in the manure. Uh, and you know, it's not, what he's talking about is not a lot different than the 14:18 plant food byproduct that I use out of the feed industry. This year's fertility, last year's soybean crop, 14:24 alls he's done is refined it, taken it down, and now it's, it's refined enough. It can go through the planter, it can go 14:29 through the sprayer, and it's not gonna be as concentrated as the 10 34. 14:33 Oh. But I bet it's a very impressive product. I would be more than happy to try that in a trial aspect, because that's good stuff. 14:41 What's that? Of course, the first objection, somebody that's a naysayer is listening to this is gonna say, yeah, well you're gonna truck me a bunch of liquified manure. 14:49 Well, you also had to truck in the 10 34. Oh yeah, exactly. It didn't, it didn't come from the, 14:53 it didn't come from across the road either. That's just a mindset. That's a mindset that just because it comes from a retailer, it's better, you know? 15:01 Uh, yeah. That, that's just a mindset and yeah. Is it, and that goes back to we've treated manure, like manure, just like Kurt said earlier on, 15:10 the phosphorus is building up close to the, uh, the phosphorus is building up close to the hog building or the cattle building. 15:15 Why is that? Because the, the objective wasn't to put fertility on our land. The objective was get the manure out of the lot 15:22 Yeah. To give. And, and The objective needs to change. The objective needs to be, how can we make this the most valuable product that we have? 15:29 Kurt? Um, what do I need to do? What do you need to do? Who's doing it? In other words, you've got this product, people that are growing hogs on contract barns, 15:40 they use this stuff, but you're talking about taking it to the next level. How's that happening? What aeration agitation. 15:46 That seems easy enough. We, we can agitate stuff. What else needs to happen? Yeah, so we've gotta combine the separation equipment 15:54 with the aeration equipment. I think that's one of the steps because then it becomes more concentrated. 16:00 Um, and then we've gotta get it distributed and we've gotta get it tested. Um, this coming season is gonna be one 16:05 of the, the next steps. Uh, we'll be doing some testing in the greenhouses this winter with some, some small trial things. 16:12 Um, but just starting to, you know, as much as anything, I just want to plant the seed of think outside the box. 16:18 Like what are all the possibilities and where, where, what can we improve on, um, in agriculture, because you talk to the livestock guys, um, 16:26 I was just on a, a call this week with some large dairies that are looking at expanding their number one issue is 16:33 how to get rid of manure. That's the number one thing they worry about. Yeah. And yet the crop farmers would love to have it, 16:40 but it's in the wrong spot. We don't have the quantities where we need it. It's not clean enough. And so how do we shift that mindset? 16:48 You talked about doing, um, a, a few different things. What about, is there a way to get rid of the, I mean, I guess you can get rid of the waters irrigation, 16:56 but my dairyman in Indiana doesn't need any irrigation from December until sometime in June. 17:04 So, so in other words, getting rid of the water component of it isn't as easily set as done in most environments. 17:10 Most climates, Yeah. You've still gotta have the lagoons, you've gotta have holding capacity, 17:15 because yeah, there's definitely a timing, um, aspect to it, but most livestock operations are gonna be set up with that 17:20 and have the capacity to hold it until the, the season where the farmers need it. Got it. All right. And we can use existing 17:28 infrastructure for that. The, the question was, uh, are we gonna have manure technology can replace synthetic fertilizer? 17:35 How far away are we, we're never gonna get rid of synthetic fertilizer. Fertilizer completely. But Kelly made a very valid point. 17:40 We've already got this resource that's probably being underutilized. There's a reason that phosphate levels next 17:44 to the hog facilities are, you know, through the roof, et cetera, all those things. Totally. We all agree. 17:49 Everybody even listening understands and agrees. What's the next step? Oh, we need testing. We need producers that are willing 17:58 to, to take and do some on field trials, um, willing to, to test this concept. 18:04 Um, I really feel like that's the next thing is we have to validate it. Um, and we've gotta, we've gotta prove it 18:08 out on a field scale. By the way, if you're listening, you're missing out this video. Uh, big Tough Kelly gear has a real soft spot 18:17 for a dog named Molly, and she's in the office with him today. And so you should check out this video. 18:21 She's jumping on his lap because the guys in the shop below the office are pounding on, uh, pounding on wheels or something, and it's got the poor doggy scared. 18:28 So you know what, uh, you shouldn't be embarrassed about, uh, loving your doggy because, uh, real men love dogs. 18:34 Um, unless they're pit bulls, they should all be euthanized. So here's the thing, um, what, what I want you to do 18:40 to get me out here is, is this something that, like we're talking big picture future stuff. One year, three year, five years from now, 18:47 are there gonna be a bunch of people say, yeah man, we, we trucked in a more concentrated, it's really a more concentrated manure product, is 18:56 what you're talking about, and we put it on the planter. Are we seeing that we're gonna see 18:59 that three years from now? I think so. I think that's where we're headed. Yep. I think We should go next year. Kurt. 19:05 I wanna try it now. You need to get me lined up. All right. Stay tuned. There's gonna be your trial. The question was, will manure technology 19:13 replace synthetic fertilizer? Probably not all at once, but there certainly is promising, uh, a future out here. 19:19 And so we're gonna try some stuff. Stay tuned. That's what we do here at Extreme Aro trialing and experimenting. 19:24 As Chad Henderson said, he's never had any failures. He just had trials that didn't quite work out's. That's what we're all about. We made the 19:31 mistakes that you don't have to. Hundreds of videos just like this recording right here on cutting the curve. 19:36 Hundreds of videos, these guys shoot in the field, hundreds of videos with brilliant people like Kurt Grim from, uh, 19:42 industry that are trying new things and bringing you information you can apply to up your farming game. 19:47 If you wanna take it to the next level, become an Extreme Ag member for just seven $50 a year. It's just that simple. You'll get access to premium 19:53 and, uh, exclusive information as well as question and answer opportunities with the guys like Kelly. Thanks for being here. Till next time, I'm Dam Mason. 20:01 This extreme ag cutting curve. That's a wrap for this episode of Cutting the Curve, but there's plenty more. 20:07 Check out Extreme Ag Farm where you can find past episodes, instructional videos 20:12 and articles to help you squeeze more profit outta your farm. Cutting the curve is brought to you by 20:19 Advanced Drainage Systems, the leader in agriculture, water management solutions.

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