Manure handlers become experts

SALEM, Ohio – Fires, broken bones, live wires.

Each needs to be handled carefully by trained experts: firefighters, nurses, electricians.

Two years ago, Ohio farmers and manure became part of that list, too.

Whether it’s 3,000 cows or 13,000 hogs, livestock produces quite a bit of manure , and there needs to be an expert handling it, said Kevin Elder, executive director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.

Weaver Bros. With 4-5 million birds, Weaver Bros. is one of those large concentrated animal feeding operations required to have a certified livestock manager.

Tim Rhoades, farm manager of the poultry operation in Darke County, became the farm’s manure expert in February.

Although Rhoades has worked with livestock all his life, the program was still helpful.

“You learn to be a good manager,” he said. “You learn good neighbor relations and manure management. It makes a big difference.”

Steps to knowledge. Twenty-seven other people in Ohio also are certified, said ODA spokesperson Kelly Harvey. This includes farmers, manure applicators and brokers.

Anyone can be certified but it’s mandatory for people dealing with manure on a large scale. This includes farmers who handle manure at large concentrated animal feeding operations, and people who buy, sell or land apply more than 4,500 dry tons of manure a year.

They take three required classes:

* environmental rules and regulations;

* nutrient management; and

* manure storage and handling.

They must also take three electives, which cover everything from good neighbor relations to insect/rodent control.

After the courses are completed, participants apply for a license from the state department of agriculture and develop manure and nutrient management plans.

Refresher. Rhoades, however, learned he was already doing a good job.

Weaver Bros. and Rhoades worked with the state department of agriculture and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in the past with its manure and nutrient plans, so no major changes were needed, Rhoades said.

The program was still a good refresher, he said.

Since his certification, Rhoades joined Ohio State University Extension and the department of agriculture to host a manure management meeting for brokers who buy the farm’s poultry manure.

“This information is good for everyone,” he said, adding he thinks certification for small farmers also should be required.

Poultry litter broker Jim Van Tilburg agrees.

It’s worthwhile for everyone, he said, because you never know what your might learn.

Van Tilburg, who hauls poultry litter from the southern part of Mercer County to the northern grain-producing area, learned he needs to apply the manure at 3 tons per acre, rather than 4 tons.

For everyone. Many people are taking these courses even though they aren’t required to be certified, Elder said.

Even if people don’t have to be certified, Elder still recommends taking the classes, especially if you’re new to farming, or increasing your herd, or changing your manure application.

The courses concentrate on typical problem areas: liquid manure application in tile lines, weather, maintaining storage volume and empty storage.

This is helpful to all farmers, he said, big or small.

(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at

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Get your training

* The next certified livestock manager training core courses will be July 14-15 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg.


      Register by July 2 by calling ODA’s Kelly Harvey at 614-387-0908. Cost is $15 per day.


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