Pollution turned to nutrients at Penn State's 2010 Manure Expo

July 02, 2010
University Park, Pa. -- By its nature, a national conference on manure tends to generate more dung jokes than ecological perspective. But when Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences hosts the 2010 Manure Expo on July 15 at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, humor will give way to insights on principles of environmental balance and nutrient utilization.
Because it's a national showcase of the best practices, products and services dealing with nutrient management, professional manure handling, animal agriculture and agricultural water quality, the expo offers a unique opportunity for the nonfarming public, said expo coordinator Robert Meinen.
"The conference will present agriculture in a way that's not often portrayed in popular media," said Meinen, a senior dairy extension associate. "The average person will be able to learn about the technologies that are used in agriculture to allow profitable crop growth while minimizing environmental risk."
While several of the expo's educational sessions will provide professional-development credits to certified commercial manure haulers and brokers, nutrient and odor-management specialists, and crop advisers, Meinen says the programs will be accessible for everyone, offering useful insights into the challenges of modern farming.
"With the rapid expansion of reduced tillage and no-till methods, livestock producers face unique hurdles," Meinen said. "The animal-agriculture industries often operate with narrow profit margins, and it takes an efficient environmental-management plan to operate profitably. But adopting no-till can be particularly tough for a livestock farmer. If a farmer can't incorporate his manure into the soil, he risks losing nitrogen to the atmosphere and phosphorus in run-off, as well as upsetting neighbors with offensive odors and flies."
The expo's theme, "Balancing Production and Conservation," addresses how manure handlers must navigate federal, state and local regulations, public perceptions and scrutiny, and economic pressures, while trying to make the most of an important natural resource, according to Meinen.
"This event offers a forum for the manure-handling industry to interact with the companies that provide equipment and services and to learn about the latest technologies, practices and knowledge related to manure management," he said. "It will include side-by-side equipment comparisons, commercial field demonstrations, vendor displays and educational sessions that focus on optimization of manure nutrients. We also will provide information on such value-added systems as biogas production and separating solids for bedding."
Adding value to manure -- from composting to solid/liquid separation and digesters -- will be a major emphasis at the expo, which will feature the most recent and complete information on storage and handling technologies, economics and farm infrastructure.
Admission and parking at the 2010 Manure Expo are free. More information is available online at http://www.das.psu.edu/2010manureexpo, by calling 814-863-2263, or by sending e-mail to manureexpo@psu.edu.
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Last Updated November 18, 2010