Manure Haulers Certification

March 2, 2023

More Info

This session has held as part of the animal agriculture track during the 2023 MI Ag Ideas to Grow With virtual conference. This virtual conference held February 27-March 10, 2023, is a two-week program encompassing many aspects of the agricultural industry and offering a full array of educational sessions for farmers and homeowners interested in food production and other agricultural endeavors. Sessions were recorded and can be found online at

Video Transcript

We're going to Tess and I'm going to tag team this. I'm going to introduce myself and then I'll have Tess introduce herself. And then we're going to split this presentation up between us. First of all, this is the the manure hauler certification value added presentation here. So hopefully you are both in the right in the right session here. So as I mentioned earlier, this is the Michigan Manure Haulers Certification Program Value Proposition. We hope tonight to convince you that using commercial manure applicators is a good idea, that it's in your best interests to maintain a profitable farm and to put manure down in a way that is environmentally responsible. We have worked hard together as Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Farm Bureau to put together a program that we think will in fact add value to a farm and we'll help farms be, be profitable. So let's see. Okay, so here's what we want to talk about here. Want to describe the manure haulers certification program. I want to talk about the levels of certification. Want to talk about the manure summit. Next steps and why you should hire a certified applicator. And then our contact information. So as I mentioned earlier, this is a joint effort between Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Farm Bureau. My name is Charles Gould and I'm housed in Ottawa County, which is on the west side of the state. I have statewide responsibilities for renewable energy and energy conservation, but I also have a manure management component. And this program is a part of that manure management component. Tess, you want to introduce yourself? Hi everyone. I am Tess Van Gorder. I'm a conservation and regulatory relations specialists with Michigan Farm Bureau, which is a lot of words to say work in environmental issues. So voluntary issues like this program. So I'm a program lead for the Farm Bureau Family of Companies. But then also I'm our technical expert on groundwater discharge permitting for Farm Bureau. Also work on carbon credits, sustainability and that sort of realm. The Saginaw Bay Ag Recycling. And I think that's it or anything else that seems to pop up. Alright. Thank you Tess. So what is the manure haulers  certification program? Well, it's not the stick. It's the carrot approach. It's a training program for anyone who applies manure coupled with an economic incentive for improved nutrient management plan and implementation by manure applicators. And it's really a way for manure applicators to move from training to certification to third-party audits without implementing a mandatory program. And we felt this was really important, that there be an incentive there for manure applicators so that we wouldn't have, so manure applicators wouldn't have to go down the regulatory route. And our program is building every year. And we're seeing more and more farms and for hire  manure applicators become certified. I'm very happy about that. So what are the goals of the program? Well, we want to prevent manure application problems. We want to increase nutrient management plan and implementation. We want to demonstrate responsible manure application. We want to increase the base level of manure management knowledge of all employees. And we want to improve professionalism among the newer applicators. When this program was in its early stages, this concept of professionalism with something that was really important to manure applicators. And a lot of the ideas that they came up with have been incorporated in the program that we are currently implementing now. So levels of certification program Tess, I think I toss it over to you. Awesome. So I'll chat about the different levels we have in the certification program. So thinking of these as sort of building on each other. So your level one is your basic level, then level two is sort of that medium, and then level three is advanced. And as we move through those levels, your incentives also grow with that and hopefully so does your knowledge of manure management, manure application and things like that. So for level two and for all the levels before for an overarching theme, There's always going to be two parts and one of those parts is always going to be a manure application equipment inspection. So as we went through, That's a good, I think find a good lens to help explain this. So level one, this is basically to ensure everyone who goes through and gets certified in this program has that basic knowledge of manure management. So that's spill response regulations and the GAAMPs, which is the generally accepted agricultural management practices, common sense manure application and safety. So thinking about the manure gases and other things like that and having that safety plan for when one of those emergencies happen. Again. So that new, newer equipment inspection that is going to be either myself or someone else from the Farm Bureau Family of Companies to come out and look at all the equipment used to apply manure. So that's your tankers, your spreaders, your pumps, really drag lines, things like that. And this is something that is not meant to be a pop quiz. It's not meant to be scary, and it's meant to be collaborative. We provide you what we're looking at. Excuse me, online. I'll send it to you. We can talk about it. And it's meant to be that collaborative way to get you to that base level of inspection. And it's not something that, if you've ever had a regulatory inspection will tell you on the spot, I'll be like, hey, we saw this and we think that might be a concern and then we'll even flag things for you that we're like, well, this isn't a concern right now and it won't prevent your certification, but you may want to keep an eye on that for the future. So really it's meant to be something that helps you reduce your risk. And I'll talk more about what that really looks like. It's meant to be that collaborative approach. Then for the insurance discount we've partnered with our sister company Farm Bureau  Insurance to offer a 5% discount on the liability and farm personal property sections of the farm policy. I am not an insurance agent. I don't sell insurance. So if you have questions, I would recommend reaching out to your local farm bureau insurance agent. Next slide, Charles. So level two, for those familiar with Michigan and our voluntary programs, we have a premiere environmental assurance programs, through MAEAP or the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. So for this level, we decided to partner on providing a couple of options for farms. So you have two options regardless if,  if you're a farm you have two options. You can either become  or be currently verified in the livestock system of the MAEAP program. Or you can get 6 hours of continuing education over a two-year period. So we know that farms  get a lot of pressure, whether it's from food safety audits or other regulatory pressures and other pressures to do this voluntary program and this other voluntary programs they were like, Okay, why don't we make this easier and help merge those two to help reduce their paperwork and other sort of burden to participate. And so if you're a commercial applicator, you can only do a level two because you can't be verified. But it's just meant to get that flexibility. And for farms who choose that route of getting MAEAP verified, for level three, they're like 80 to 90% done of that requirement to get certified in level three. So that's also a benefit to help streamline things they've already done for voluntary programs to help them, help maybe give them a little bit more of a carrot to participate in this program. So again, both options include that manure application equipment inspection, the level two, we built it in a couple more inspection points. And then for those incentives, we still do the 5% discount. And then we also have some what I call useful swag. So actually see if I can. So we've had these magnetic bumper stickers made that it says vehicles certified, with our certification program logo to emulate our MAEAP sign. So how do we provide that public recognition that, hey, I went the extra mile and did a cool thing and a good thing for the environment and for public safety and things like that. Then also, we just released from your just released a 2023 farmers transportation guidebook So putting those in that bundle as well and some other things as we SMV signs are moving through that process level two, a couple of options depending on if you're a farm, and then a couple of more inspection points. So next slide. Level three is that sort of top pinnacle of the program. Part one is that creation of environmental management system plan or EMS plan. So this is saying, okay, what goals do I want for my farm in the environmental realm? How am I implementing that regular training to make sure that my employees are on top of what needs to be done. How am I doing preventative maintenance and equipment inspections and things like that to help you achieve those goals that you've laid out in this plan. Charles, who's here, and then Sarah  Fronzcak  from MSU, can help you work through that. Then that manure application inspection, it has the most inspection points of all of the inspection levels. Again, just with me and or a colleague. So nice to be low key. I really nerd out of that. I mean, my dad's impressed about how much I know. I know more about manure application equipment than my own car. So he really finds that interesting. And then for this, for this one, this is a 10% discount on a liability and farm personal property sections with farm bureau insurance. So again, it's sort of the peak and has the biggest insurance discount as well. Next slide. So the equipment  inspections I think are the most hesitation. I feel like I'm going to have someone on my farm or my operation. We're going to look at things and, you know what, why why do we have equipment inspections? So even those minor things can cause either catastrophic events or and or in-field repairs. So you think about you have a tire pop off and you're like on a public road that could be a safety hazard or environmental hazard. You go into a ditch and it goes into the water, you're potentially your drivers injured. So really there's a lot of things that can like that sort of bottom-right corner says that ties both into the safety piece. So keeping yourself safe, keeping your employees safe, keeping the public safe, but then also transferring into spill prevention. So how do we keep manure in the field where we want it to help grow crops and improve our soil health and then out of the water. And so that level one is that lowest bar that to safely operate on the roads. If you just want to stay on level one and you're like, Well Tess, It's just not, not in the cards for my operation, for these other levels, They just don't make sense for me or it's not a good time. That's okay. You can just get recertified at level one and that's totally cool. There's not a you shall advance or you have to leave the program. So we really just want to help you do what's best for your farm. And then maybe we might nudge you. But really trying to encourage that sort of manure management knowledge and helping you reduce that risk with your newer equipment inspection, like I mentioned before, this helps feed and build preventative maintenance. So we may see things you look at every day and you should become like sight blind like you know, like I have clutter on my desk I'm not going  to show you I'm like, Oh, whatever record can be like, Oh, your your area is really lived it and I'm like, Oh, isn't that bad? Like so when you look at it every day, you're like, yeah, whatever it's stuff like so and just helping you with that preventative maintenance because then we'll flag those things even if it's not an issue for us at that time, will still flag that for you to say. Okay, the next time you do preventative maintenance man, but keep an eye on this tire or keep an eye on this and we'll go into that a little bit. So next slide. Alright, so what does an equipment insepction look like? Next slide. Perfect. So this is apparently an abbreviated vehicle inspection and we're not going to do, to check all of these things. But the basic premise is that we do walk around the vehicle or the piece of equipment, look at the various things to see how your tires doing, are your lights and markings are doing. Okay. Is there any exposed wiring and do we see any leaks in the hoses? Do we see any cracks or anything we should be worried about and just walk around and do that. And so again, this is not meant to replace a DOT inspection or any other sort of regulatory program. But hopefully this helps enhance that because some of these things they might care about too. So really just walking around looking at the equipment, we don't get in and we don't like we don't climb on top of it and things like that and just looking around to do that visual inspection to see and flagging those issues for you that could be a concern if your wheels or the tread is uneven or the wear on the tread is uneven, like what does that mean? What's causing that and that could that be a broader issue? So again, I am not like a mechanic or a manufacturer of these, so we'll flag it and say, hey, there appears to be an issue with this tire. Go forth and have someone with that expertise help you figure out what's wrong and how to prevent them from becoming a bigger issue. Next slide. So tires. Again, we understand that you can't just go out and buy all the manure equipment because we're like, oh, there's a little shred, little wear on the tread. So we really look at what is going to be an issue. So like looking at see if we can see those cords. And even like so I took this picture and this isn't something that was an issue. We just said, Hey, we noticed there's little warp on that right there. And then click again Charles Yeah, so it's not super noticeable what we said, Hey, we don't know what caused that. Just FYI, we saw that. Again, really helping feed that preventative maintenance to reduce your risks that you're going to have a severe issue either on the road or in the field. Next slide. Perfect. So then we look at that safety chains, drop-ins, PTO guards. Again, while this can be a safety issue, it's also a prevention of spills. Here, the first circle you can see we're missing a safety chain in there, so that's something we'd flag for you. And then on the positive sign, which should I put it in green, there's captured pins, and a hitch pin in there. So that's awesome. And then we notice that we're missing the PTO guard there. So again, where we see that cohesiveness is that if you're missing a PTO guard, that can also be a MIOSHA violation. So making sure again, that safety and spills, we want to make sure that for whatever reason if someone's applying manure and they are, you don't want them incapacitated at any way for safety issues and then also environmental issues. Because if you have a driver that's being passed incapacitated, they also can't prevent anything from going wrong with the equipment either. So it's a two-fold two-fold reason of how you just overall reduce your risk when applying manure. Next slide, then visibility, reflectors and lights. So knowing this comes into play a lot and knowing the difference. But if you are looking at a commercial vehicle or if we're looking at an implement of  husbandry, those are two distinctions in Michigan that really will make a difference in your regulatory responsibilities while you're on the road. So for example. if you're an implement of husbandry, you need to be having the SMV visible and there's different marking requirements. And this is why we refer to the farmers transportation guidebook a lot because it really details what those requirements are based on commercial vehicle versus implement of husbandry. And if you're an instrument of husbandry, what year what year was it manufactured? And that'll slightly alter what you're looking for in terms of visibility. Next slide. So again, just highlighting the importance of the SMV. If you're an implement  of husbandry, it has to be visible and not damaged. So looking at the one on the left, we have a great example of an SMV and also smart on the manufacturer's side that they have a guard for that SMV so that when you for example as you can see, they have just applied manure that it's still uncovered from manure so   that is legal. And also make sure that you take your protective material off your SMV when you get it from the manufacturer, because you need that to be fully visible. Next slide. To remain certified, looking for that yearly inspections. So you'll see myself or Steve, my colleague's face at least once a year, a ton of the  management summit. We try and do that in the winter months so that you're not in peak hauling season and have the hopefully something you look forward to during winter meeting season. And then for level two, making sure either your MAEAP verification in the livestock system is up-to-date or working on that continuing education credits and then also maintaining that EMS plan. So that's our program website. So it's QR code or that tiny URL and that has all of our contact information. It has all the descriptions of the levels, it has all of those checklists and what we look for. So feel free to reach out to us at anytime. And it looks like I did not change the order of these slides like I should have. But the Manure Management Summit that is tied in with that's part of something we put it on as part of the certification program to help. We felt like there was a gap in manure management educational opportunities. So we decided to put this on as an annual educational event that we felt. And it has really grown over the years, which has been awesome. But anyone can attend. So even if you're not participating in this certification program, we have a wide variety of folks who attend. A goal of the summit is to provide folks with science regulatory technology updates are helpful information related to manure management. We had a great turnout and great slew of speakers this year. So we're excited for next year and that date will hopefully be coming soon. I think I'm turning it over to Charles. Thank you Tess So we have really focused on the liquid manure aspect of this and that's, that's what we got up and going first, more liquid manure is applied than the wet solid or dry solid. But we recognize that farms oftentimes had, especially their dairy facility, had both types of manure. So we knew that we needed to do a wet solids and a dry solids. Well, I'm happy to report that the wet solids and dry solids modules were were put together. They were sent out for review. The reviews are now, the edits from the reviews to the modules are being done right now. So we anticipate by July, I guess at the latest, we will have wet solids and dry solid manure modules up and it will follow the same, the same format as the liquid. When you go when you go through level one, there's an online course that you have to take and you have to pass with 80%. And you're able to retake the quiz, the quizzes for the, the, the modules if you don't get 80%. We'll follow that same format with wet solids and dry solids, where there'll be a quiz that an individual is going to have to take in order to pass and receive the, the, the, the passing grade for that online course. So why should a farmer hire a certified applicator? So let me throw some things out for your consideration. First of all, if they've gone through the training, we would consider that there are professionals. They have a certain amount of expertise because they've been trained. That other manure applicators don't have. The fact that they have this educational under, this educational knowledge indicates that they should conduct themselves in a more professional manner than someone who is not certified. This is a big one and we have been stressing this. If they if there's a manure spill, Well, first of all, they're going to do whatever is necessary to make sure that a manure spill doesn't happen. Now, we know that things happen. That's just that's just the nature of things. But as applicators go through the certification program, they understand how to minimize those human errors so that they are less likely to contribute to a manure spill. But in the event that a manure  spill does occur, they have the knowledge to manage it. So what that says is that they will be able to spring into, into motion and minimize the environmental damage that could occur because they have this knowledge and that's very valuable. Michigan has a lot of water resources in this state. And fact or law says that there is to be no discharges in the into the waters of the state. And so the value proposition of hiring a certified manure applicator is that they are trained not to have spills, but if it's spill occurs, then they know how to manage it. And I think Tess brought this point out really, really forcefully that when that equipment inspection occurs, you know, safety is a big part of that. And so it's not only making sure that the equipment it has all the safety features in place, but it's also conducting, going through a checklist before the day starts as they're getting the equipment hooked up and as they're getting ready to go out in the field, understanding that the lights work and that the driver has his or her faculties about her. So then they learn how to, this aspect of safety around manure application equipment and manure storage structures. They know how to handle publicity. We have, this was our third summit. This year. And we have had some aspect of public relations at every one of them. And looking at the evaluation from this past summit, that still is something that both farmers and for hire applicators are interested in. So they have, they have an understanding of how to handle publicity when the news media shows up or when there's a neighbor that's out taking pictures. They have training on that. They know how to calibrate manure spreaders and they know how to apply manure properly. That's a big one. Especially for large farms who have, who have permits. They've got to have a plan on how that manure is applied and at what volume and what fields and things like that and that volume of manure that gets applied has to be from a calibrated spreader. And so applicators that are certified know how to do this. From a farmer perspective. You know, you've got someone who is trained so you don't have to go out and buy manure application equipment. You don't have to you don't have to hire someone to apply manure from, you know, from your farm. So there's gotta be some money savings there. Because that allows you to go do other things. That allows you to invest your money in other areas rather than manure application on your fields. So in reality, when you look at what it costs to apply manure from a commercial manure applicator, it may be cheaper. And I already touched on the fact that you don't have the investment in time and labor. So I hope that this has given you some things to think about. That hiring a certified manure applicators really in your best interest. Because of all the things, all the expertise or the knowledge that they come with on your farm. an equal opportunity employer and we offer our programs all regardless of who they are. This is contact information of our team. So you're hearing from Tess and I tonight. But Laura  Campbell is when of Tess' colleagues with Michigan Farm Bureau. Sarah Fronczak is one of my colleagues down in Hillsdale County. And then Erica Rogers who is with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. We comprise the leadership team that provides the guidance for the the Michigan Manure Haulers Certification Program. And we would welcome a phone call or conversation from you. If you've got things you want to discuss.