The accusation that area farmers are shipping more poultry manure to Indiana just stinks.
Local ag officials say poultry manure from the Grand Lake Watershed and surrounding counties has been shipped to Indiana for a long time, and a recent federally-backed program reimbursing farmers to move it isn’t causing an influx.
"I know a lot of farmer friends who have been hauling it over there for years," said Dave Hanes, a certified livestock manager at Mercer Landmark. "I think people are just noticing it more with all the media coverage there’s been."
The coverage is due to the deteriorating condition of Grand Lake. Nutrients in manure, particularly phosphorous, feed the lake’s toxic blue-green algae, which bloomed excessively the last two summers and almost shut down the 13,500-acre lake.
Hanes said Mercer Landmark has been brokering poultry manure since about 1999, but it doesn’t take any to Indiana. It transports it to places outside the watershed near Lima, Wapakoneta and Piqua. Mercer Landmark doesn’t transport liquid cattle and hog manure, which poses the most environmental problems in the watershed.
Brokering poultry manure out of the watershed began about 10 years ago and has increased steadily, said Terry Mescher, an agricultural engineer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. About 90 percent of the chicken and 75 percent of the turkey manure is exported, he said.
Poultry waste is highly sought because it’s cheaper than commercial fertilizer and relatively easy to transport because of its low moisture content and light weight. It is usually delivered in large amounts and piled onto farmground until it’s spread.