Biological Lagoon Nutrient Retention

The facts on the nutrients that are regularly lost from your Manure Lagoon.

Keep what you already paid for!

Did you know that as much as 70% of the initial Nitrogen and 80% of Sulphur can be lost in one year from an open manure lagoon. These are the two key elements that are needed to allow your crops to produce good levels of proteins.

A lagoon that is open to the weather loses high levels of Carbon as CO2 and Methane in the chemical process of digesting the manureAs your lagoon loses carbon, it loses the key element needed to keep nutrients available for plants. Without enough carbon in your manure many nutrients quickly become unavailable once they are applied to the soil.

As sanitizer, footbath and cleaners accumulate in your lagoon the growing sludge ‘dead-zone’ begins to make Phosphorus and Potassium less available as methane is produced. Plants and soil organisms require a lot of excess energy to be able to make these minerals available to your crop. Keeping this process from happening will allow your crops to keep more of their energy as they grow.

Any odours that you dislike from a lagoon or bedding pack are the result of nutrients being lost.  By regularly applying our biological inoculant, you will control the odours, and retain more nutrients. We were able to completely remove bad odours from our old septic system at Footstep Farms. 

We look forward to the opportunity to share the benefits of this incredible microbial work-force on your farming team!

The benefits of treating your Lagoon with our blend of Microbial Inoculant.

More than 40 years of research and real life successes provide the foundation for our seasonally adapted inoculant. It is a common product in Japan, and in the gardening industry in North America. Our process is aimed at taking this to the farm scale. Based on our own experience, and the research learning, here are a few things you can expect when using the Biological Lagoon Nutrient Retention Service:

  • Lagoons often will have very high salt content, measured as electrical conductivity (EC). This causes the manure to be harmful to soil organisms including earthworms, arthropods and fungi. One of the quickest benefits you can get with a treatment of this Biological Inoculant is that your total EC will be lowered as well as the pH of the manure will become slightly acidic. Applying this acidic lagoon manure to your fields will work to buffer the negative effects of alkaline soils.
  • On a daily basis your lagoon will be giving off nutrients in the form of off-gassing. These nutrients will be lost from your farm for good once this happens. Our biological product included groups of microbes that thrive in a nutrient rich lagoon. As these microbes grow and multiply, they will scavenge the most easily available nutrients; the nutrients that are ready to off-gas (or leach, once it is in the field).
  • When the organisms in this product find available nutrients in a compost pile or lagoon, they will work to make them stable and bioavailable. The major forms of nutrients that are produced by the beneficial biology are Amino Acids and simple Peptides. These are the Nitrogen and Sulphur rich building blocks for your crops. 

Your plants can now skip several steps in the process of using Nitrogen.

  • Additionally when the biology in this system encounters chemicals and compounds that are harmful to other beneficial microbes, they are able to lock up the harmful chemicals. Copper, Zinc, Chloride and other chemicals that are commonly used in the barn will normally cause the sediment of a lagoon to become pathogenic. The beneficial biology that we add provides the solution to this. The organisms we use will lock up these chemicals and keep them from doing harm, this effect is long term. Although some of our these organisms will die off as it does this work, the chemicals will remain harmless after this process.
  • In the dead zone of your lagoons, healthy biology has died, and a chemical process takes over. The carbon that is organically bound to many of your nutrients is chemically removed, and replaced with oxidizing compounds. The results of this are two-fold; you lose a lot of carbon as CO2 or Methane, and many of your organic nutrients (P, K, Ca and Mg) are made less biologically available. Many of these reactions in the dead zone are not possible for biology to reverse. With the regular application of our Biological Lagoon Nutrient Retention service you will keep this negative process from taking over your lagoon.
  • Odours will also be drastically reduced in bedding packs and lagoons with the regular application of our inoculant. Most of the smelly things that we want to avoid are actually your nutrients going off into the wind. Almost any time that you lose some Nitrogen or Sulphur it is also running off with some Carbon also. By using our products you will be turning this problem into a Carbon benefit.
Below is a clear example of the change that can be seen. The color change is from increased levels of organic acids that act to lower pH and the salt levels of the manure. 
Before and After of California Lagoon

Our story with using this Diverse Biological Solution at Footstep Farms.

We live on a small farmstead in a location that has very alkaline soils that were quite neglected. The initial approach was to bring in a variety of animals and begin making compost to amend our soil. This is nature's way to improve soil and increase the water holding capacity of our topsoil. My research led us to a composting technique that is designed to be quicker than aerated composting, and produce a final product that has a lower pH. This difference in pH will help us balance the alkalinity at our farm.

Compost Inoculated with our Adapted Biological Products

We started by inoculating our compost piles with a product called EM or Effective Microbes. It was expensive to start with, but through the research and trials we did, we are now producing a mixture of EM where we add native organisms from two different collection techniques. This means the chance is higher that the inoculant is well adapted to our climate. 

In February 2023 we had a 250lb calf die on our farm. We put it in our compost and let it freeze. In April when we moved the pile for the first time the carcass was beginning to thaw. To keep it from attracting wild animals we covered it with a foot of bedding manure, and then added several gallons of the inoculant we had made. By the end of May when we finally had all our other compost ingredients ready to mix together we were surprised to find only a few bones and the teeth of the dead calf. After 2 months it almost completely decomposed, and there was only a smell for about 2 days after moving it in April. 

Pond water treatment with EM to Reduce Salinity

The next experience we had was to test the value of this inoculant as a treatment of our pond water. We use a dragline and pump to fill our pond several times per year, and then we have a salty well that we use to add extra water until the salt levels get to the limit for good plant growth. We began to add 5 gallons per month to our pond to try to treat the salt in the water. The effects were surprising again. 

We really did not know what to expect, but our research suggested that it could help reduce the salt’s harmful effects to plants. What we noticed first was that the pond became nearly crystal clear. And that the smell of dirt in the water was gone. We also pushed the salt levels to the limits (1200 ppm TDS) and we did not notice any negative effects on our garden that was receiving weekly irrigation. Our pond is a lined pond, and we expect that as a sediment layer builds up from blowing dust that we will need to increase that rate.

Odour Control on the Farm with our Biological Inoculant

There is also a claim, as well as some studies to prove it, that odours can be controlled with the regular use of EM. Many farms even use EM as a fly control because with less odours there are fewer flies reproducing, and the manure also decomposing faster because of the inoculation with EM. We spray EM in our chicken coup regularly now to control the odour. We noticed that it worked quickly, but we have not been able to use this for a full season to see if it works for flies. 

Our final test to prove its effect is to tackle our worst odour source. Our farmstead has had a bad smelling septic system since the day we moved here. We heard that by using lots of probiotic liquids (Ferments, Brews, Whey etc.) that the smell would be reduced. We did this regularly, but we never really noticed an improvement. On windy days we would always smell it while sitting on our front deck. Since I had started making larger amounts of our inoculant for some friends, and for our own use, I figured I should just put a full 5 gallon pail of the inoculant down a toilet. IT WORKED! Six weeks later we smelled the septic again for the first time. We are now treating our system with monthly doses of 3-5 gallons, and we enjoy our front deck a lot more.

Application and uses of this Microbial Inoculant on your Farm.

How and When should the Biological Lagoon Nutrient Retention service be applied?

The best option would be to apply it monthly. We have partnered with Sunshine Custom farming to bring the product to your farm, and do the applications for 2024. To get the whole benefit of harvesting the nutrient that would be lost to the wind, controlling the negative effects of the dead zone, we recommend this option. Please request a quote for your farm using the form below.

You will not have to worry about the service once you have signed up. We will show up on a regular schedule, and monitor changes in your lagoon. As the lagoon fills we will increase the applied amount. We look forward to helping our community reap the benefits of putting the right biology to work for them. 

For anyone interested in being part of a side by side trial in 2024, we encourage you to reach out early in the winter to be included in our planning process. We are confident that the benefits of this service will go far beyond odour control, and we want to gain a better understanding of how to best benefit from this system within our unique climate. With the long cold winters, and arid summers we want to learn more about the limits of this technology.

For lagoons we also offer this product as a single application 3-6 weeks before your lagoon is pumped out. For this application we double the normal monthly rate to speed up Reducing much of your nutrients into the most plant-available form. A single application is not able to regain the nutrients lost throughout the year, but it will increase availability of what is still in the lagoon. This application will also reduce sludge, crusting and odour in the lagoon before and during pumping. 

The final service that we hope to offer for 2024 is to assist in odour control for feedlots after manure spreading. With many local cattle feedlots upgrading to RCC there has been an unexpected side effect. The pore spaces in the RCC base are creating an ideal place for the liquids to gather. The result is a perfect place for anoxic microbes to live where they produce high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC's).

If we apply our inoculation at a one time high rate over the bedding area after cleaning out the pen, the biology will quickly transition to our beneficial bacteria and fungi, and the odour will not be produced. We do not know yet if this will need to be used every time the pen is emptied, but based on our experience we are confident you will see a rapid improvement to the levels of harmful odours. If a bad septic system and a dead calf smell can be removed, then so can the feedlot smells. We look forward to helping your neighbourhood wrinkle their noses a bit less in 2024.

Lagoon Nutrient Retention

Keep what you already paid for!

Sign up to use this strong micro-biological team to retain more nutrients in your lagoon, and make it more available for your crops.

Would you like to turn your manure lagoon into a major farm asset? 

Do you want a robust method of controlling odours on your farm?

Do you want to keep more of your nutrients when you apply them to your cropland? 

Would you give biology a chance to prove it’s worth?


Quick Q&A Section

More about the Service...

Do we need to add an aerator to our lagoon?

No. The microbes in our inoculant are all facultative anaerobes. This means that they can operate well in anaerobic and aerobic conditions. They will thrive in your lagoon, and then continue to help decomposition once applied to your fields.

What is the process of applying the product to lagoons?

You will not need to do the Lagoon applications. We will come to your farm monthly to apply the inoculant. This gives us the opportunity to monitor the lagoon and increase the application as needed. 

What is the best way to use this product as an odour control?

The best way to control odour with this product is to dilute it at a ratio of 1:10 and spray it on your bedding pack or RCC bed until the surface is fully wet. Adjust the dilution ratio and timing based on the results you see. Monthly applications are claimed to control fries, but this has not been proven in our climate yet.

More about the Biology...

What is our product made of?

Our product contains diverse numbers of three main organisms.

    • Bacillus bacteria species
    • Fungi (yeasts all year, and seasonal native fungi)
    • Photosynthetic bacteria (the regulators)

Where do the microbes come from?

The brewing process begins with the EM-1 starter from Teraganix. Seasonal adaptations are made to increase the effects when adding to manures. Throughout the process we add native collections of bacteria and fungi to increase the diversity and survivability. 

How are the native organisms collected?

We use two techniques from Nature Farming to maximize the diversity of the final product; fungi are collected with the IMO techniques, and bacteria and yeast are collected with the LAB techniques.

More about the related Benefits and Risks...

Are there any risks when using this product? 

Our product is a completely natural product, and all the inputs are beneficial to effective decomposition. There are no risks to any farming system, but we do not recommend using at high rates in animal drinking water.

Is the inoculant organic? 

We are not certified organic this year, but we hope to work on that for future years. There are no chemical inputs into the process of producing our inoculant.

Why is this inoculant especially good when spread on alkaline soils?

In alkaline conditions the soil chemistry and biology will quite quickly convert ammonium from the manure into Nitrates. Nitrates are very leachable and they encourage weeds to grow. Our product's biology will work to reset the biology in the soil and buffer the pH for better crop growth.

More about Expected ROI...

Is there a Product Guarantee for this Inoculant service?

Yes. We are confident the crop effect will be more that you can measure in total nutrients applied. If you can provide the needed test to show that there was no increase in total nutrients applied, I will personally reimburse the costs of the product. (delivery and application not included)

What is the cost of the Inoculant?

The cost will vary depending on the size of the lagoon and the distance of travel. The one-time application cost begins at $1000 for a 1 million gallon lagoon. There are many variables in our full year service. Please contact us to request a quote.