Research Compares Advantages of Straw and Synthetic Lagoon Covers

by 5m Editor
8 March 2004, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1462. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1462

Research conducted in Alberta shows, while straw and synthetic lagoon covers are both effective in reducing odor emissions, each has advantages and disadvantages.

A review of existing research was conducted by Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development's Ag Tech Centre, to help producers decide whether to opt for a straw or a synthetic lagoon cover.

Engineer in Training Brian Sexton says straw lagoon covers can reduce odor by as much as 75 percent while synthetic covers tend to achieve about 95 percent odor reduction.

"Really there's pros and cons to both. We find that straw covers can be applied using readily available materials, materials like straw that most farmers have on hand but there is a maintenance required for a straw cover.

When it comes to synthetic covers, it gives you the independence of installing it the one time and pretty much leaving it for the rest of the year until you empty the lagoon but there is a higher cost associated with that.

We find that straw covers are about two cents per square foot to apply. When it comes to synthetic covers it ranges from 65 cents to 95 cents per square foot.

The rule of thumb with that is, the bigger the cover, the cheaper per square foot it tends to be. Larger operations tend to have large lagoons and at the same time larger operations may have a little more cash on hand to afford one of these synthetic covers so definitely the bigger the lagoon the cheaper it's going to be per square foot to cover that".

Sexton says, when using straw, a ten inch to one foot cover over the entire lagoon surface is recommended which may require specialized equipment when draining.

He says, because the straw must be mixed with the manure, thorough mixing prior to land application is critical to allow smoother movement through equipment.

He says producers who use straw may need to be looking at items like a chopper pump.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor