By Deanne Meyer, Ph.D. Livestock Waste Management Specialist, Department of Animal Science, UC Davis and UC ANR

Are you thinking about changing manure management to access a carbon market or improve nitrogen balance?

If so, be sure to do your homework! There are many moving parts.

Here are a few things to think about for Central Valley dairy operators: What job do you need the technology to do? Does the technology operation require a contract? If you consider a multiyear contract, be sure to 1) have a lawyer familiar with the income generating markets review the contract, 2) fully understand implications to manure carbon, nitrogen, and salt management, 3) include partners and the next generation in the decision-making process, 4) answer the question why this technology versus something else, 5) evaluate impact to labor and other facility resources. If you’re looking at a technology for carbon, how does that position your facility for nitrogen?

Many financing streams may be available for your project. However, that doesn’t mean the project is right for you. Ask questions. Understand how the technology will operate and what is required from your dairy’s resources for success.

How long will it operate? What happens to your manure management should the technology not work right?

Although no one installs something with the intent of failure, it is important to know what happens to various contractual obligations should failure happen. You likely have additional questions not listed here.

There are some tried and true technologies available and there are some new, less known technologies. Understand obligations associated with each technology you may consider. Fully evaluate economic feasibility with differing amounts of incentives. Do make decisions based on what is right for your dairy’s family (cows, employees, relatives, partners and facility).