With spring comes manure hauling and spreading and there’s going to be more and more equipment back on the roads. But what is the demand really like for custom operators? Manure application is a part of the conservation conversation in Wisconsin. Isaac Lemmenes, OEM Product Specialist at R Braun Inc. explains how the sustainability conversation fits into his line of work. He says there is a high demand for custom operators to haul manure but not necessarily enough operators themselves to keep up in the long haul.
“With the industry growing and more farmers buying cows to capitalize on their investment, it generated more slurry for us to move,” says Lemmenes. “Every year, it seems like we have more and more manure to move sooner than ever.”
At R Braun Inc, they pump about 275 to 280 million gallons of manure a year. Lemmenes says he expects 2023 to be about the same. He notes that even though some smaller customers are going out of business, those animals are ending up somewhere else and that manure still needs to be hauled.
“Recently in Manitowoc County, we just had another custom manure applicator sell their equipment and go out of business,” adds Lemmenes. “So are there enough custom operators to meet the demand today? Maybe. Tomorrow in terms of later this year or next year, I perceive this to be a huge issue.”
When it comes to technologies and nutrient management plans, he says more operators are adopting minimum disturbance, manure injection. When done right, this helps minimize trips across the field and helps maintain the soil health.
Lemmenes says, “As far as technology and equipment changing over the years, we’ve absolutely seen changes there. Whether it’s different crop rotations, which is allowing more summer spreading on cover crops to minimum disturbance injection. One of the big benefits is that farmers are changing to it along with us as applicators.”
Input prices have continually increased and with that so does the cost or the farmers. However, Lemmenes says that their customers understand and are just happy that they are working to provide top-notch service.