“Well, I started out my day swabbing manure application equipment”

posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2016

“Well, I started out my day swabbing manure application equipment,” laughed Carl Ott, when we asked him to share specifics on his contribution to the billion pound journey. Carl is an Environmental Services Manager in the Nutrient Management Department and his team—along with our supervisor team, special projects team and manure application crews—are going full force as corn and soybean farmers look to Iowa Select Farms to replenish the nutrients in their fields.

This time of year takes a lot of coordination, plus following a whole host of protocols to make sure the nutrients are applied accurately and in biosecurity compliance. Carl works on all sites, including nearly half of the “Tier 1” sites comprised of the gene transfer centers, multiplication, GDUs, sow farms, nurseries and protected finishers.

His preparation began months ago when he updated site-specific application handbooks containing a nutrient application record book, field maps where the manure is to be applied, manure application rate sheets, contacts, detailed pit measurements and Emergency Action Plans. He and his team also coordinate with over 80 trained and certified manure application crews who will pump, haul and apply the nutrients to nearby fields.

Now that combines are rolling and harvest is in full swing the crews are deployed to start their work, emptying nutrients from the pits and applying to the soil, replenishing the nutrients needed to grow the corn and soybeans. Carl coordinates with farm managers and application teams and then oversees a “check in” process between our production supervisors and applicator partners.

“It’s important that we take additional steps to make sure we are protecting our pigs from disease, like ensuring crews are cleaning and sanitizing the equipment and following all biosecurity procedures,” said Carl.

To minimize the risk of disease transmission at our high health status farms, Carl swabs the tractors, pumps and equipment 48 hours before the applicator enters a Tier 1 site, then sends those samples to the ISU Diagnostic Lab. This allows him the time to ensure the samples are negative for PEDv and delta corona virus, and also give the crews and equipment the required two nights of downtime from the previous site.

“There are hundreds of people throughout our system who contribute to this process, and one of the great things about Carl is that he is an excellent communicator and does a great job explaining the process and reason behind the extra steps involved,” said Dwain Bankson, Director of Nutrient Management. “He is always technically accurate, especially with his GIS mapping, and approaches his work like it is his own business. He builds great relationships with his applicators and the farm managers and has a lot of pride and ownership in his work.”

After months of preparation and planning, Iowa Select Farms is set to apply 672 million gallons of nutrients to crop fields this season. Carl says he’s proud of how far the pork industry has come in regard to precision agriculture. “We collect manure samples, soil samples and have an advanced mapping program that allows us to know exactly what is going on with the land we’ll apply nutrients to this year,” said Carl. “We know every zone, every waterway and every terrace, and then create Manure Management Plans where we calculate potential soil loss and Phosphorus Indexes.”

Carl’s last piece of advice? “Be safe out there and watch out for farmers and slow moving vehicles,” he adds. “Anyone connected to agriculture knows this time of year is both hectic and exciting, as thousands of farmers are moving combines, tractors, augers, grain carts, semis and manure tankers and wagons up and down our rural roads, all making a huge effort to get a monumental amount of work done before the ground freezes. Be patient and give a friendly wave, as they are all working to feed a hungry world.” #billionpounds