Manure is an important asset to farming
“We have some of the best technology, we take our job seriously and are proud to be in agriculture,” said Jon, a custom manure applicator for Iowa Select Farms, one our 150 custom applicators who came in for a business meeting to hear updates from the nutrient management team and review biosecurity and safety protocols.
Jon runs five tractors and liquid manure tanks and has eight team members spread throughout the communities of Butler, Grundy, Hardin and Franklin counties. His team covers the application needs of several finishers and GDUs in our eastern finishing region and has been hauling for Iowa Select Farms for three years. During the spring application season and much more so in the fall, Jon and his team can be found pumping the manure from the thick concrete pits beneath the barns into manure tanks or a drag hose, then safely transporting it to nearby crop fields to apply the manure to the soil. His crew members drive the tractors and tanks back and forth across the field, “injecting” the liquid into the soil, a method the pork industry adopted around 20 years ago to reduce odor associated with application season and to ensure the nutrients in the manure are pushed down into the soil—where next spring’s crops need it most.
And Jon’s team is a dedicated crew. “We miss holidays and sacrifice family time because oftentimes we have a short window between when the corn is harvested and the ground freezes," said Jon. “Mother nature can be tough—but when the field is open and the weather cooperates, we go.”
The custom applicator business is really only a couple decades old but today is thriving," said Dwain Bankson, Director of Nutrient Management. “This has moved away from every producer applying his own manure to a specialized area of agriculture, and the investment in the tractors, equipment and technology needed to run their business is well into the millions,” he adds.
We take our job seriously,” said Jon. “We are all certified by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to apply manure, and we train and communicate as a team to make sure we are responsibly applying the nutrients according to the GIS soil maps provided by the nutrient management team at Iowa Select Farms.
An injector toolbar attached to the back of the tank has flow meter that regulates the application," and technology in the tractor cab allows the drivers to know exactly how much manure is being applied.
"These crews are a huge part of our team, and critical to the billion pound journey," said Dwain. “Manure is an important asset to farming and a huge contributor to sustainable food production as the nutrients in the manure—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—replenish the soil after harvest. It’s one of the best stories we have, and these guys are making it happen.” #billionpounds