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Nebraska manure expo goes ahead on one of year's hottest days

By David Hendee

OMAHA, Neb (Reuters) - What's your idea of a fun outdoor activity on a day with a heat index of 113?

How about a manure show?

The late television host Johnny Carson's hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska, is hosting the 2011 North American Manure Expo on Wednesday.

The trade show is billed as the only training event in the world that spreads animal waste to demonstrate the latest advances in manure management technologies.

Organizers expected about 1,000 farmers and others to turn out for the free, hands-on event during one of the hottest days of the year. The forecast high is in the upper 90s, with a heat index pushing 113.

Managing manure is a big issue on farms. A 300-cow dairy operation produces an average of 8,725 gallons of waste per day, or more than 3.1 million gallons a year, according to Clemson University researchers.

Manure spread on cropland provides important nutrients to soil and plants.

The expo is rich in material. Attendees will test their knowledge at a "Manure Scene Investigation." Or they can watch history be made when feedlot manure is applied below the surface of the soil for the first time using a device developed by U.S. Agriculture Department researchers in Arkansas for poultry litter.

Antique manure spreaders will sling waste in demonstrations of how far the industry has progressed. A panel of crop consultants will discuss how to value and market manure.

Educational topics include manure stockpiling and ride-and-drive demonstrations for those who want to get behind the wheel. Another session will discuss the latest research on winter application of manure on frozen soils.

"There's something for everyone, including anyone that is concerned for the environment and wants to know how livestock producers are handling manure to avoid water contamination," said Leslie Johnson, project coordinator for the Animal Manure Management work group at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

More than 50 exhibitors from across the United States and Canada are displaying and demonstrating all types and sizes of manure handling equipment including manure and fertilizer spreaders, manure incorporation equipment, GPS equipment for manure application and manure storage options.

The demonstrations are being held on a 40-acre tract at the Northeast Community College's Agricultural Complex in Norfolk.

Nebraska is the seventh state to host the event since its start in Wisconsin in 2001. Other host states have been Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa and Pennsylvania. The event returns to Wisconsin next year.

(Writing and reporting by David Hendee; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)

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