We farm on the Saanich Peninsula on southern Vancouver Island, with 200 head of Holsteins and their youngstock. They are housed year- round in freestalls with sawdust and scraped with alley scrapers into a lagoon with six months’ capacity.
Needing to upgrade our manure application system, we recently purchased the AerWay SSD, a manure injector. Previously, we had been using a 2,500- gallon vacuum tanker for many years. Our farm lends itself to an umbilical system as all the land is below the grade of the lagoon and is in a 300-acre block.
Our proximity to the international airport, being close to population centers in a high tourism area and being upstream of sensitive waterways – a stone’s throw from the ocean – led us to a system that offered low-pressure application and incorporation as the manure was applied. We selected this piece of equipment for its reduced ammonia emissions, thereby decreasing the odor during and post- application events while giving us a higher degree of confidence in controlling our runoff.
We try to spread twice a year on the permanent grassland, once in the fall and once after second or third cut. By July, we’re unlikely to get significant rain and even less likely to get it to order after a cut of silage so we have traditionally spread under the irrigation wheel lines to wash it in. A couple of years ago, we put in linear irrigators which made manure application even more of a challenge to wash in and prevent ammonia losses. We now spread the whole field with the new manure injector, which puts the majority of the manure under the leaf canopy and should stop ammonia loss during the heat of July.
We quickly realized how innocent we were to the joys of pumping manure. Since we had almost a mile of 5-inch aluminium irrigation pipe and a 1,200-foot hard hose irrigation reel, we decided we only had to buy the AerWay SSD and a pump and some miscellaneous fittings. A couple of blowouts quickly smartened us up to making sure we pressurized the system with water before pumping manure to make sure all the pipes were connected and the gaskets were working properly.
The new injector equipment has been the easy part of the system; it has performed with no problems whatsoever. The design of the boom is especially impressive; the double pivot removes all the stress from the hard hose attach point and keeps it clear of the tractor. The chopper seems to work well. We have only had one tube plug and I think this was due to the low pressure and flow. With our current pump and hose system we are lucky to get 250 gallons per minute (gpm) to the SSD and it is capable of handling 1,000 gpm.
At the time of this writing, we were spreading over rye grass stubble with the equipment set to max angle (10°). Manure application rates of 8,000 gallons per acre barely show on the surface and the cultivation is impressive.
We have been following the injector with a flat-lift (sub-soiler) and really notice a difference moving to an area that has been missed by the injector. The sub-soiler is much harder to pull through areas that have not been aerated.
When we spread on permanent grassland we use the minimum angle (0°), which doesn’t lift any sod.
Overall, we are really happy with the set-up, but a larger diameter hose to increase flow rates would be a nice addition to fully optimize the equipment. ANM
Chris Wilson is a dairy producer at Pendray Farms in North Saanichton, British Columbia.