What To Do With All The Poo?
Algae blooms, salmonella and E. Coli, groundwater contamination, and bad smells are just a few of the problems animal manure can cause. In small doses, it’s the stuff of life—the fertilizer plants need to grow. Mishandled, it’s an environmental disaster in waiting. Each year, farm animals in the United States produce over 335 million tons of manure. That’s roughly the weight of 1000 Empire State Buildings.
Everybody poops; animals just happen to do it more than the rest of us. A lactating dairy cow can produce 150 pounds of manure every day. Twenty broiler chickens will produce over four pounds a day. Whether a farmer has one cow or 1,000, manure problems are the likeliest route to trouble with the neighbors.
Though the exact laws and cut-offs vary by state, large farms are required to create and file Nutrient Management Plans. In essence, these plans detail the estimated amount of manure produced, how it will be stored and where it will end up. But if you’re one hog under the cut off, there’s no filing required. Unfortunately, many new farmers, hobbyists or animal lovers don’t realize the trouble they’re in until its too late. So how do you solve a problem like manure? From non-farmers — with a horse to the largest industrial hen houses — people are coming up with ingenious ways to take the damage out of dung and occasionally making some extra money while they’re at it.
One solution is the “manure share”. Think of it as the Craigslist of crap.