Stench Alerts 2019
Livestock sewage dumping on farm fields continues in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Today, we have two more examples of manure application on snow, thawing, saturated ground. Snow from last week is melting, freeze/thaw soil conditions, ground is saturated. The roads around these fields are a mess, with a trail of manure and mud on Beecher Rd. in Hudson Township.
Cash crops won’t be planted until next spring, so there’s no need for fertilizer.
First up - Last week before roughly 8" of snow fell here, Hartland Farms applied liquid manure on corn stubble. It wasn't incorporated. If this field is designated as "no-till" (and many of them are), they don't have to incorporate this within 24 hours; in fact/ they don't have to incorporate it at all. (This is true both in Michigan and for Ohio's "not-a-ban" rule.) East side of Hughes Hwy., south of Beecher Rd., Bear Creek/Raisin watershed.
Today, more than a week later, Hartland is applying dry solids on a different part of this same field. The sludge you see along the bottom of the picture is actually the road itself, a mixture of mud and manure and runoff. Southeast corner of Hughes and Beecher, Bear Creek/Raisin watershed. Hughes Highway just south of Beecher is a mess right now.
Moving west, Hartland is also applying dry solids on the west side of Dowling Highway between Beecher and Cadmus Rds., Bean Creek/Tiffin/Maumee watershed. Poop wagon dropping its load just went over the top of the hill, out of view, as this photo was taken.
The one sure thing about manure farming is that production never stops, and it has to go somewhere. Just like flushing your toilet, except instead of going through the appropriate wastewater treatment, this sewage goes right onto farm fields.
Up here in the Western Lake Erie Basin tributaries, we’re finally starting to get rid of last week’s 8” of snow. Sun is out, temps are finally above freezing, it’s thawing. Slushy snow, saturated ground everywhere.
Then this morning, we have this.
Warner dry solids, very recent, manure application on snow-covered ground. Pentecost Hwy. and Dowling Rd., Wolf Creek/South Branch/Raisin watershed. This field is directly across the road from Loch Erin, which is only a few feet away. Loch Erin suffers from major Cyanobacteria blooms (HABs) each summer. This is the headwaters of Wolf Creek, which is dammed downstream to form Lake Adrian, one of the City of Adrian’s drinking water sources.
The City has dealt with Cyanobacteria blooms in their reservoir for years, and last year residents complained that the odor of 2-MIB (documented by the City), which can be found along with toxins in Cyanobacteria cells, was worse than ever. Those complaints continue, with residents saying it is just as bad as it ever was to this day.
Currently, Adrian’s drinking water distribution system is under study by Wayne State University to determine whether or not it has been colonized by Cyanobacteria. There’s no crop here, and even if there was a cover crop in this field, it would be dormant and wouldn’t be taking up any nutrients as fertilizer.
Application of CAFO “waste” on snow or frozen ground is simply disposal of untreated livestock sewage, the same stuff you flush down your toilet, the same stuff that goes into your community’s wastewater treatment plant.
The State has not required Warner Farms, which according to MDEQ’s inspection in 2018, has approximately 1,480 cattle, and which has had several contacts by the State about potential runoff incidents at its facilities, to get a NPDES CAFO permit. A 2014 inspection by the U.S. EPA indicated that the decision whether to require a permit would be left to MDEQ (now MDEGLE). Potential runoff incidents, including from silage storage, have been repeatedly investigated since then by MDEGLE. However, no significant improvement has occurred and MDEGLE hasn’t required this farm to get a permit.
In Michigan, all dairy farms with more than 700 producing cows must get a either a General NPDES CAFO Permit or an Individual NPDES CAFO Permit, and the State can require farms with fewer animals to get an Individual NPDES CAFO Permit if there are repeated pollution incidents. Also, the State can mandate Individual Permits with more stringent conditions than the General Permit for those farms above the minimum animal requirement, if there are farm conditions that warrant it. The State of Michigan required about half of the factory farms that ECCSCM monitors to get the more stringent, Individual Permits.
We have two questions:
What is the agronomic need for phosphorus on bare ground?
Why doesn’t Warner Farms have a Michigan NPDES CAFO permit?
And from the Bean Creek watershed portion of ECCSCM’s monitoring area, we have this very fresh liquid manure application on corn stubble, on snow. E & R application, southwest corner of Rollin Highway and Rome Road.
Coming from this tanker, fan-spraying it onto the field.
The ammonia in livestock sewage immediately melts the snow on fields where it’s applied. Temps were up in the 40’s when this was taken in mid-afternoon, the surface soil has thawed, but not the ground underneath. As long as the ground underneath is still frozen, farm equipment can get into the fields without getting stuck in the saturated soil.
Driving heavy equipment like this over saturated soil compacts it and destroys its structure, which leads to even more runoff down the road as the soil is no longer able to absorb moisture. Like pouring water onto concrete....
Hudson Dairy liquid manure dragline from dump box setup, M34 west of Kelso Rd. (Bean/Tiffin/Maumee)
Wait … he's just talking about rain water.
When it gets deep here, we're not just talking rain water, as ECCSCM's DNA tests of stream samples continue to show.
Up here in the headwaters of the Maumee and Raisin, in Michigan's portion of the WLEB, we've had epic rains this year, starting in early spring, and there's no sign that they're going to be stopping. Regardless, the dumping of untreated livestock sewage on weed fields (what's the agronomic rate for fertilizer on weeds?), bare fields (agronomic rate for fertilizer on dirt? Anyone? Anyone?), fields with cover crops (seriously? why?), and, occasionally, fields with cash crops goes on, just exactly like it does every year. No change.
Photos below taken after we got 2.5" of rain over 3 days. Warm and muggy. If the stench in the air had a color, it would be brown fog with zero visibility around these farms.
Hmmm, was a permit pulled before this stream was dredged?
- A plan to stop any immediate discharges of compost wastewater to the field tile riser.
- A timeline for when any physical changes will be completed at the composting site. The timeline should be designed in such a way that all physical changes are completed before December 1, 2019.
- An explanation of what physical or management changes will be made at the site to reduce, control, store or re-use compost wastewater generated at the site.
Dragline connected to dumpbox, E. side of Munson Hwy. N. of Morenci Rd
Apparently the practice of fan casting of CAFO sh*t is back and going strong.
Photos above taken August 7, 2019. Hillsdale County, Prattville Rd, west of Pittsford Rd.
Photos above taken September 7, 2019. Hillsdale County, Waldron Rd. just south west of Burt Rd.
Photos above taken September 14, 2019. Lenawee County, Munson Hwy Rd. just south of Territorial Rd.
A gift for Lake Erie and anything in between......
July 10, 2019
Just in time for the Big Event, the Lake Erie Harmful Algae Bloom forecast. ECCSCM is here to tell everyone that the Michigan portion of the WLEB is doing its best to keep the manure rolling along, just like every other year. Not as many fields planted? Too bad. Manure farmers produce crap 24/7 so their first concern is getting rid of it. It’s going on those fields come hell or high water (literally), doesn’t matter if there’s a crop or not. They got off to a late start because it was so wet, but they’re making up for it now! Manure everywhere, much of it going onto weed fields. What do experts recommend as the proper “agronomic rate” for phosphorus fertilizer to grow the biggest and best weeds? ‘Cause we’re there.
Here's just a tiny smattering of what's happening up here in those Western Lake Erie tributary headwaters. So much manure, so much stinky air, so little time to take pictures.
East side of Wolf Creek Highway, just north of Brazee Road, field owned by Warner. Wolf Creek/Lake Adrian/South Branch/Raisin watershed (E. coli TMDL). The beginning of a dry manure stockpile. Most likely, this will be pushed around and smoothed out, then chisel plowed; supposed to be done within 24 hours. So much for right time, right rate, right place, right method, precision application. Manure dust blowing everywhere.
Hartland/Briskey liquid dragline dumpbox setup for surface application of manure, with tankers coming and going. Southeast corner of Wheeler Hwy. and Cadmus Rd. South Branch/Raisin watershed (E. coli TMDL). This was bottom-of-the lagoon quality stench, easily a 10 on the Stench-o-Meter. The vile odor will get worse as it ages over the next few days, whether it's incorporated into the ground or not.
Photo below is of the liquid manure application on Wheeler Highway and Cadmus Road, showing manure runoff puddling at the edge of the field. South Branch/Raisin watershed (E. coli TMDL)
Quiz question: Where will this excess end up? Hint: Initials are L E, and it's a big body of water.
In a few days, this will all be downstream and doing its very best to make this the Best. Lake. Erie. HAB. Evah!!!!...
A. didn't get the grain crop planted by June 5 or 15 deadlines, will be submitted for crop insuranceB. will be planted to a grain crop under the prevent plant crop insurance optionC. whatever is growing, or will be soon planted, in this field will be chopped and fed to cattleD. untreated livestock sewage will be dumped on this field whether there's a cash crop to fertilize or notE. A, C & D aboveF. B, C & D above
ECCSCM has been concerned about the recent heavy rains and some things we’ve been seeing from the road, so we sent Lighthawk up into the air to get some aerial photos.
Canandaigua Rd., Medina Township (Bean/Tiffin/Maumee). What is this? Parked in a 12-acre wetland, intermittent natural stream to Covell Drain, eventually to Bean Creek
Hoses, hoses, everywhere. But this one is a Big Freakin’ Deal. Dragline coming from setup in field on south side of Acker Hwy., applicator has laid it in a tributary to Bean Creek in order to cross under the road to the north side of Acker Hwy. Just south of Medina Rd. Couldn’t see where the hose ends or what it’s attached to because of the slope. Nope. No. No. Nonononononono. Not allowed to have draglines lying in streams – this is a major cause of leaks and discharges.
Dragline at the right side in the photo above continues to run north (right) where it turns and was laid so that it lies in a tributary of Bean Creek. Photo below shows the dragline in the stream, above the grass at the roadside and to the right of the big tree in the center.
Manure dragline hose in tributary to Bean Creek, coming from under Acker Hwy. Dragline (gray hose) is lying in the creek; you can see it above the grass at the roadside edge, lying to the right of the big tree in the center of the photo. Don't know where this end of the dragline is located or what, if anything, it's attached to.
How much hosing is too much?
Another dragline set up and ready to go, SE corner of Packard Rd. and Dillon Hwy., field in Medina Dairy’s permit.
That’s a lotta livestock sewage. All headed to Lake Erie!
It’s way too wet to be in the fields, but manure farmers are all set up and ready to pump untreated livestock sewage on farm fields just as soon as the rain stops. ½” of rain reported in the area today.
Dragline coming out of the north side of under-road culvert, Forrister Rd. Where’s it coming from?
Here’s the south side of the road, where the dragline enters the culvert:
"Getting closer, going east … generator for pump setup, south side of Forrister Rd."
The source – New Flevo’s lagoons. Dragline hose from lagoon ( lower right, just above the date in the photo below) runs to the pump above, then under the road, to the field.
There’s a whole lot more.
New Flevo/Waterland dump box still set up on Springville Hwy., just south of Shepherd Rd. Oh May 24, this farm was applying manure within 24 hours of a 70% chance of ½” or more rainfall, against Michigan CAFO permit rules. (Confirmed by EGLE.) That’s a no-no.
Still not done. North side of Canandaigua Rd. east of Ingall Hwy. Orange manure dragline, not sure where the other end is. Field is in Medina Dairy’s permit.
Foul air everywhere, especially bad around New Flevo, Hartland, Medina, and Hudson Dairies. Tankers and wagons everywhere. So much sh*t, so little time! ECCSCM was out collecting water samples for analysis. Results will be published as soon as we have the lab reports back. Easily a 10+ on the Stench-O-Meter was this liquid dragline application by Briskey south of Medina Rd. on Acker Hwy. (Bean/Tiffin watershed). Liquid manure is pumped out of the sewage lagoon into the tanker, which is hauled to the field. Then the liquid livestock waste is pumped into a dump box, shown below with corrugated sides. From there, it's pumped into a dragline (looks like a fire hose, see the reels below and the full hose coming from the pump) that's connected to an applicator attached to the back back of the tractor , which you see in the picture just below this one. Eye-watering, throat-burning, gut-wrenching, nasty. The air stunk for miles around.
A few feet farther east, on the north side of Medina Rd., Briskey was spreading manure solids. (Bean/Tiffin watershed)
From now until after Memorial Day weekend, our local CAFOs are emptying their giant cesspits of winter's livestock accumulation. The most beautiful time of year in this part of CAFO-land in Southern Michigan is always Hell Time.
This is just one example....
April 11, 2019
Just like clockwork, every year. Same field, just across the road from the south side of Devils Lake. Devils Lake is the headwaters of Bean Creek, which becomes the Tiffin and eventually the Maumee River in Ohio. Manure tankers were out in force, new ones pulling up every few seconds to refill the dump box, then leaving to get another load and returning. Just like an assembly line. That’s why they call it factory farming, right?
Brown stuff on the field, but it didn’t smell like chocolate Easter bunnies. Nope, the familiar ammonia/hydrogen sulfide, eye-watering, throat-hurting stench of cattle manure was beginning to bloom.
Keep driving … follow the smell
The dump box setup. Liquid manure is hauled by tanker and emptied into the red box, where it is pumped out through the long dragline hose that’s attached to the manure application equipment at the back of the tractor. The dump box is ground zero for this operation. In order for all of this to take place, manure has to have a solids content of less than 6 to 8%. When you add enough water to manure so that it can pass through these pumps and equipment, you can no longer control where it ends up. Especially when it’s applied over our vast network of unidentified subsurface drain tiles.
Keep driving …
Here it is. Dragline hose in the foreground, attached to the applicator at the back of the tractor.
Raining today, heavy rains predicted in a couple days.
Sad for the neighbors, sad for the growing weed problems in Devils Lake, sad for everyone downstream in the Bean/Tiffin/Maumee watershed, sad for the Great Lakes.
April 10, 2019
Means getting slathered with manure. Of course, that happens in the summer, fall, and sometimes in the winter, too. Sending it all downstream, in this case to the City of Adrian, and on to Lake Erie. Cheers!
Warner, liquid manure tanker application, Teachout Rd. and Pentecost Hwy., Wolf Creek/S. Branch, Raisin....
March 30, 2019
Travel way back with ECCSCM, to our Stench Alert post for May 19, 2018 of the Van Brunt/Halliwill/New Flevo manure heap on Forrister Rd. (Hazen Creek, S. Branch/Raisin). No containment, manure heaped up in big piles, every time it rains liquid manure runoff flows everywhere. We just posted that one photo but this has been on-going for a few years with no resolution.
Photo below shows manure runoff from those piles (left of photo) ponding around a groundwater wellhead (the white pipe surrounded by corrugated pipe). Polluting the aquifer is a big no-no. Or it should be. That’s why there are setback rules in the CAFO permit that prohibit manure application within 100 ft. Ain’t happening here.
March 30, 2019
On January 17, 2019, Bakerlads deposited stockpiles of manure on ground that was frozen to a depth of at least 2”, when there was a high risk of runoff according to Michigan’s Enviro Impact Tool. Manure was eventually pushed around on this field and left to sit (the darker areas of the field above the ponding), not incorporated because (a) the ground was frozen and (b) this is a no-till field. (See January 17th Stench Alert for photo).
Here’s what happened. What always happens. Snow melt and manure, after heavy rains, ponding around the orange, perforated tile riser (orange pipe in the foreground) that collects surface water on the field, takes it down to the buried tile beneath that carries it out to a tributary of the South Branch of the Raisin. This, folks, is why we don’t put manure (or any fertilizer) on snow-covered or frozen ground. It’s not fertilizing any crop. Why is it OK to use farmland as a sewage dump?
January 17, 2019 – Here’s what’s happening in Michigan’s Winter Wonderland. Fluffy snow, lakes and ponds freezing over. Used to be time for winter outdoor fun. Not so much any more here, unless you like being slathered in livestock sewage.
Putrid stench for miles around. Bakerlads stockpiling manure on frozen, snow-covered ground. Besides what’s in the photo, there were 4 semi’s lined up to enter the field to dump solids at around 5 p.m. on January 17. South side of Beecher Rd. between Hughes and Morey Hwys., Hudson Twp. South Branch, Raisin River. Major snow followed this crap-blizzard.
MSU’s Enviro Impact Tool says this about conditions here:
High risk of runoff from Jan. 18 through Jan. 24 on this chart