Yakima Valley Dairyland News: Issue 12, May/June 2016 - Washington Dairy

Yakima Valley Dairyland News: Issue 12, May/June 2016

Livestock ammonia emissions in perspective, need more study to assess health threat

Enhanced feed formulas have reduced emissions

Managing Yakima Valley air quality is complicated.  Years of agricultural production coupled with increasing population, car emissions, wood stove smoke, commercial fertilizer applications, livestock operations and other factors, make Valley air quality assessments a challenge for the local air quality officials who study ways to improve it.

Complicated science-based and peer-reviewed research studies are often cited during heated debates.  Depending on your point of view, findings can be “shaped” by promoters of the issue to meet their needs.  Variables in Valley air quality, for example, are plentiful and largely depend on how, when and where air quality readings are taken.
At a recent meeting of the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency (YRCAA), for example, a UW study, “Ambient ammonia exposures in an agricultural community and pediatric asthma morbidity” was used to confirm harmful ammonia emissions coming from Valley dairy farms, while not acknowledging other factors or variables.
Children with asthma, near areas that are zoned for livestock production, are vulnerable to a range of particulate matter.  Researchers say these non-inflammatory emissions do not pose an overall threat to public health in the general population of the Yakima Valley.
For perspective, a research white paper  produced by University of California Davis professor and air-quality specialist Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., shows how food animals are minor contributors to green- house gas (GHG) emissions (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases).
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Valley dairy invests in high-tech manure management systems

WSDA Director Derek Sandison (L) and Dan DeRuyter discuss
benefits of the DCO-DAF separator

Since 2001 Wisconsin-based DVO, Inc. has applied its patented two-stage “Mixed Plug-Flow™” anaerobic digesters to process more farm and industrial wastes in North America than any other company, or design.  Last year George DeRuyter & Sons Dairy near Sunnyside installed a custom DVO-engineered manure nutrient management system in-line with their digester.

This expanded treatment now allows the farm to economically remove approximately 90% of the phosphorus and 40% of the nitrogen from the digester effluent for application to field crops.
“These farmers all want to be good stewards for the land they manage, but they are in a competitive and highly-regulated industry that now asks some farmers – but not all – to shoulder some fairly onerous burdens,” says Doug VanOrnum, DVO’s VP of Strategy & Technology.  As an engineering company, DVO’s mission is to develop practical, cost-effective solutions for farmers.
According to farm manager Dan DeRuyter, “DVO is the market leader for environmentally engineered anaerobic digestion systems. Using their digester and following treatment options allow us to far more effectively manage manure – while also controlling odor, destroying pathogens and greatly minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.”
DeRuyter and many other Valley dairy producers are assessing the effectiveness and sustainability of manure separation centrifuges, waste water biofiltration systems and anaerobic digestion systems specifically to address nutrient management concerns in the region. Digesters also utilize powerful greenhouse gases such as methane to create secondary energy sources such as electricity.
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L&I dairy farm safety checklist helps farmers prevent injuries

Kyle Vandyk, J&K Dairy, explains the farm’s safety protocols for visiting inspectors from the Department of Labor & Industries

Preventing workplace deaths and injuries is a top priority for occupational safety and health managers at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), where connections with industry organizations such as electricians, contractors and farmers among many others provide focused safety training and education.

At the request of the Washington Farm Bureau and Washington State Dairy Federation, L&I created an updated Dairy Farm Safety Checklist so farmers could review their operations to identify common injuries and to take additional steps to prevent them.
“With a combination of live animals and heavy machinery, keeping workers safe on dairy farms requires a constant and focused approach,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “We’re doing our best to support dairy farms and workers in their safety efforts. This new checklist is an excellent example of how a simple tool can help make a difference.”
Bruce Zeller, L&I Education & Outreach Services Manager, encourages farmers and farm managers to educate themselves about issues related to safety. “In my opinion, if you look at the national information Washington farms are some of the safest in the nation,” he said, “but the more knowledge you have about safety the better off you are going to be, and less likely to have injuries or fatalities – and of course you have a more cost-effective operation.”
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Dairyland News is distributed to dairy farm families, business leaders/dairy farm suppliers, government staff, elected officials, and news media to show how dairy farmers contribute to the community, with safe operations, best farm management practices and effective stewardship of land and animals. Dairyland News is produced by the Washington Dairy Products Commission in cooperation with the Washington State Dairy Federation.

All articles have been reviewed/approved by those quoted or referenced. To subscribe to Dairyland News: [email protected] or [email protected]

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