Scott Murray did not want to leave the home in rural Juneau County where he and his family had lived for more than 20 years. But with the house surrounded on three sides by manure irrigation systems, life had become a nightmare.
“It even got into the walls of our home,” Murray said of the liquid manure spray that drifted onto his property from the Central Sands Dairy across the road. “It was an ammonia smell. It hurt so bad even to breathe.”
In 2011, the Murrays sold their house and moved.
[. . .]
Applying liquid manure to fields using pipelines and farm irrigation systems is less expensive than trucking manure and applying it with traditional land-spreading rigs. Proponents also say it is less likely to pollute because it allows for more precise application of manure, which provides necessary nutrients to the soil. And runoff is less likely when manure can be applied when crops are in the field, they say.
Currently, 14 of the state’s industrial-sized dairy farms, also called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs, use manure irrigation, according to the state DNR.
That number could rise dramatically. Wisconsin has 258 dairy farms categorized as CAFOs.
“We’re getting more and more requests in the department to use the technology,” said Andrew Craig, a DNR water resources specialist who is working with the manure irrigation group.
The issue is tied inextricably to the controversial spread of CAFOs across the Wisconsin landscape. The farms produce overwhelming amounts of manure and have angered and frustrated nearby residents who feel they have little control over the growth and operations of the industrial farms. Cattle on Wisconsin farms produce as much waste each year as the combined populations of Tokyo and Mexico City, according to calculations by Gordon Stevenson, a retired former chief of the DNR’s runoff management section.
And here’s how Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin is “working” for everyday citizens (emphasis added):
But, in the meantime, the DNR continues to grant approvals for CAFOs to use manure spraying, once even exempting an applicant from current regulations, according to a legal challenge. Critics doubt the work group will ban the practice, given that the push to expand it is coming from big agricultural interests.
Scott Walker’s Wisconsin: now with more liquid manure spraying!