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Friday, May 4, 2018

Sustainability Requires Definition, Standards, Measurements

Originally printed in The Land - April 19, 2018 https://z.umn.edu/CortusTheLand


My name is Erin Cortus and I am a new faculty member in the Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Department at the University of Minnesota. My role is to provide engineering expertise in the area of sustainable animal agriculture systems. Through Extension and research, I work with producers and community members to understand and continually improve the environments in which we raise livestock.

What is a sustainable animal agriculture system? The answer depends on many things, and that is what makes my job both exciting and challenging.

At the heart of most agriculture sustainability definitions you find the following question: What are the current social, economic and environmental considerations that allow a system to continue to produce food, fuel and fiber for future generations? This goal seems simple enough, but we also have to consider the following.
  • Every farm, company and industry has unique social, economic and environmental considerations. Ultimately, we can all be working towards sustainability, but the definition of what that looks like may differ.
  • These broad areas of society, economics and environment are measured by very different means. How do we consider these unique aspects simultaneously? 
  • In order to meet the needs of future generations, we need to make some predictions of what is to come (or be overcome). 

New Online Tool Helps Farmers, Applicators Time Manure Applications with Weather

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has teamed up with the National Weather Service to design a tool that helps farmers and commercial applicators determine the best time to apply manure.

The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast tool uses past and predicted National Weather Service weather data like precipitation, temperature and snow melt. It predicts the likelihood that applied manure will run off fields in daily, next day and 72 hour increments. Farmers and commercial applicators use an interactive map to locate their field and find the forecasted risk. Users can also sign up for email or text messages for their county that alert them to a severe runoff risk for that day.

When someone goes to the interactive map, the runoff risk is displayed in one of four categories: no runoff expected, low, moderate and severe. When the risk is moderate or severe, it is recommended that the applicator evaluate the situation to determine if there are other locations or later dates when the manure application could take place.

The forecasting tool can also be used by others looking for climate information including 2" soil depth temperatures which are useful at planting time and 6" soil depth temperatures which are helpful when determining fall fertilizer application in appropriate areas.

The Minnesota Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast is part of a larger federal project. The National Weather Service has provided data and guidance to states to create similar tools in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. State funding for the project was provided by the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.

Livestock Owners Encouraged to Review Regulations Before Moving Animals This Spring

Message from MN Board of Animal Health


Spring and summer exhibitions, like county fairs, are right around the corner. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health reminds livestock owners to review animal health and movement regulations before hitting the road. Moving livestock can be a burdensome process, which can go much smoother when everyone prepares ahead of time. Regulations at exhibitions, for official identification and health documentation (for animals moving between states), are in place to protect the health of the animals and the livelihood of livestock businesses and enthusiasts.

Before you even begin getting ready to move your animal, make sure it's healthy by scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian. If you're moving your animal interstate, or out of Minnesota, you must have your veterinarian examine the animal and write you a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection. This document helps animal health officials track animal movements and trace disease if those animals become ill.

2018 Updates to Common Swine Industry Audit

Every year the Industry Audit Task Force reviews feedback from producers, packers, auditors and customers regarding the Common Swine Industry Audit to help clarify and revise portions of the audit.
There are no new questions or required records. The majority of the changes for 2018 are clarifications to the standard.

Details of the 2018 updates are as follows:

Animal Observations
  • Excessive prod use was added as a willful act of abuse for consistency with the transport/load-out section
  • Boar harnesses were added to the animal handling section
  • Clarification on what to evaluate was added to the deep wounds and scratches benchmarking sections
  • Instructions for auditing thermal comfort/air temperatures and air quality were added

Manure Expo August 15 & 16

The North American Manure Expo is planned for August 15 - 16 in Brookings, SD at the Swiftel Center - 824 32nd Avenue, Brookings, SD 57006.

Manure Expo is free to attend (with exception of tours) but pre-registration is recommended to speed up the check-in process.

August 15th is tour day - 2018 tours include dairy, beef and swine! Spaces are limited and $20 pre-registration is required. Registration link. Descriptions of tour options can also be found through the registration link.

Other Manure Expo highlights include outdoor vendor sets, land application demonstrations, manure agitation demonstrations and educational seminars. For a detailed agenda and more information on the 2018 Manure Expo, visit www.manureexpo.org. Keep checking for updates!

Questions can be directed to Erin Cortus, UMN Extension Engineer 612-625-8288 or ecortus@umn.edu.

Save the Date for the MN Nutrition Conference!

This year's Minnesota Nutrition Conference is September 19-20, 2018, at Verizon Center in Mankato, MN.

"New Innovations for the Use of the Soybean" is the theme of this year's Pre-conference Symposium, sponsored by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council. The symposium will be held on the morning of September 19.

The General Session, "Challenges Facing Animal Production", begins on the afternoon of September 19. The keynote speaker is Robert Saik, Professional Agrologist and a Certified Agricultural Consultant with Saik Management Group, sponsored by Nutriad.

On day 2 (September 20), attendees may choose any of three concurrent sessions on ruminant, non-ruminant and equine feeding and nutrition presented by speakers from academia and industry.

The conference planning committee is busy working on topic and speaker selections, which will be announced in the next several weeks. Registration will open this spring.

Please visit the conference website for conference updates: www.mnnutritionconf.umn.edu

Recently Published by Swine Team Members

Congratulations to the following swine faculty and educators from the Swine Extension Team who have had their work published recently.

Alkhamis, M. A., Arruda, A. G., Vilalta, C., Morrison, R. B., and Perez, A. M. (2018). Surveillance of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus in the United States using risk mapping and species distribution modeling. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 150, 135-142. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2017.11.011.
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