Happy Birthday Dad! On Saturday, Dad and Mom went to Clarks Grove, Minnesota, where Dad gave a presentation to a group of members with the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Association. My sister, Jess, met them there and also listened to Dad give his talk. Later in the day, Dad, Mom, and Jess went shopping at Cabela's and had dinner that evening to celebrate Dad's birthday.
At this time of year, the temperatures rise and the snow melts. It becomes very muddy. Melted snow, or water, makes manure from the cattle and in the hog floors very runny. The cattle are home in the cow yard now because they will destroy pastures by tearing the soil up with mud. If it was still freezing outside, they would still be in the pastures. Since the manure is runny and in a liquid state, it is a good time to haul it. Instead of piling it on a compost pile, we spread it in fields to prevent the liquid manure from running off and spreading into creeks or other unwanted places. In a few weeks, we will be spreading the compost pile in the fields for fertilizer and nitrogen for this year's coming crops. Dad was at a sale on Monday. He purchased a manure spreader.
Manure is any substance applied to the soil to make it more fertile. All forms of manure and organic matter improve the soil because they absorb plant food and improve the soil's texture and condition. Manure can increase the size and quality of the crop. It has to be spread in fields by machines ran by tractors. They are called manure spreaders. There are three main manure spreaders — a box spreader, a slinger spreader, and a vacuum spreader.
Using a box spreader is very common for compost manure in the solid state. It is designed like a box with a tailgate. When the gate is lifted up, the manure is pushed to the back end of the box by either an apron (like a conveyor on the flooring of the box) or a large block that hydraulically pushes the manure. The manure then goes through beaters. Most box spreaders are single beaters, but some have a second smaller one on top. This second beater helps break the chunks of compost up more. The beaters also throw the manure out to be spread in the field.
Dad purchased a slinger spreader at the sale on Monday. We currently have two slinger spreaders and one box spreader. We are planning on selling the older slinger spreader. A slinger spreader is like the box — opened top, but no tailgate. It can handle both solid and liquid manure. Slinger spreaders have either one or two very large augers inside of the box. These augers move the manure around. The manure is moved to the front end of the box. A side gate is opened (much smaller than the tail gate in a box spreader). Behind this gate is a beater. The spreader that Dad recently purchased has two beaters. Usually, the single beater is horizontal and throws manure up and over. The double beaters are vertical, but still in the same pattern — up and over. The manure is spread in an arch out of the side of the spreader. Our slinger spreader can throw manure thoroughly to around twenty feet. Sometimes, it can throw much farther — it really depends on the weight of the manure or product in the spreader. We also use our slinger spreader to spread eggshells in fields. We receive free eggshells by the dump truck load from an egg breaking plant in New Hampton. Instead of putting them in landfills, we can spread it in fields. They serve the same purpose as animal waste. Slinger spreaders are larger than the box spreaders.
A vacuum spreader is used for liquid manure. It has a large tank, usually round like a cylinder. Liquid manure is stored in lagoons — giant underground or above ground pools. These lagoons are VERY dangerous to be around. Children and farmers have drowned in lagoons. We do not use lagoons because they are very dangerous. Compost piles are very safe. We can walk on them and not sink at all because it is all solid and stiff. Vacuum spreaders have pumps to suck liquid manure from the lagoon into the tank. Then, after the manure is hauled into the field, the liquid manure is pumped through hoses. It falls on the soil. Some vacuum spreaders have a spreader on the back end. The manure is pumped in the spreader and then sprayed on the ground. Sometimes, the liquid manure does not decay very well. Some vacuum spreaders inject the liquid manure into the soil. Liquid manure is very dangerous in the fields especially by creeks, rivers, ponds, or other wetlands. Liquid manure runoff can kill thousands of fish. Composted manure, in the solid state, does not run off. Usually, we work the ground up in the field with a plow after spreading manure. The manure is then turned over and is buried by the plowed ground. The manure cannot runoff into water then.
Manure is very important to the soil. Since we have livestock, we also have to have fields to spread the manure in. Large corporate farmers apply too much manure to fields or try to sell their manure to get rid of it. Farmers should have a certain amount of livestock for a certain amount of acres for fields. This way, they won't have any problems trying to get rid of so much manure.
Farm Fact: In the United States, many people usually think of manure as animal waste. In Europe, manure is used for almost any type of fertilizer, including both animal manure and green crops that are plowed under the soil and decay in the soil.