As we move into manure application season, it is important to remember safety.  Two visible safety reminders are now available for you to use on your farm.  A safety decal reminding farm workers of the danger of manure foaming has been developed from a research project funded by Iowa Pork Producers is available for download here.

How much space is needed between naturally ventilated buildings?

Backdraft is when air flows the wrong way through an opening. Typically barns are set up so outside air moves through an inlet, across the animals and the fans pull it back outside. When backdraft occurs, outside air moves into the barn through the fan. The main reason drafts come through the fans is the wind is blowing towards the fan. The winter is particularly susceptible to this phenomenon because most fans are not running to push back at the wind. Backdraft can occur when fans are operating, particularly if the fans are variable speed and are set low.

Recently, I have been thinking about purchasing a generator for my farm. The requirement for an emergency power supply is not always necessary, but should be considered, particularly if you have animals. Power requirements for livestock are critical as power is often used for ventilation, and for supplying feed and water. I am fortunate, as I have a small cattle operation where I can supply all of these without electricity. My barn and feeding area is open and the cattle have access to a small lot, so no fans are used.

Iowa State has recently launched an online tool to help livestock producers evaluate best management practices (BMPs) to reduce odor, dust and gas emissions. For producers considering using BMPs to reduce a gas or odor emitted from a site, this tool provides insights on both the cost to implement and how effective the BMP should be. The online tool give information about how effective the BMP is at mitigating multiple emissions from the farm, so while one emission may be of primary concern, other secondary emission concerns can also be considered.

Illinois farmers are invited to participate in a valuable discussion on Adding Livestock: Building for the Future from the convenience of their own office or home. The program is sponsored by the Illinois Soybean Association.

When I am not working as an agricultural engineer, I spend my free time farming on a cattle and hay operation. Recently, we have been working to expand the hay sales, and last year we decided to put up 2 new hoop barns. Previously we had 1 hoop barn on the property that was put up by a company. We decided to expand the hay storage for a total of 3 hoop barns. In order to reduce costs we decided to provide the labor. I will give some reflections on the process of installing hoop barns. I have broken down the process into 4 steps:

Last week the IL Pork Expo, the Illinois Pork Producers and IL Soybean Assoc. hosted a breakout session on CONTRACT PRODUCTION OPPORTUNITIES FOR FARMERS. In this session we heard from many of the swine integrators that contract in the state on the options available to contract with them. We also heard from two farmer that had recently constructed swine finishing facilities in Illinois, as well as a banker on loan considerations and options for farmers looking to expand their farm portfolios.