Manure and Innovation

The smell of manure and hay surrounds me as I start on my last stall of the day. Small calluses begin to form while my fingers grip the wooden pole of the pitchfork. As I finalize my daily barn chores for my job at the local horse barn, I think to myself, “there must be another way!” Each day I spend what it seems like hours, mucking out pounds upon pounds of horse manure. As my wheelbarrow grows heavier, I think about how I am going to dispose of this. Grasping both handles I make my way down to the manure pit with fifty pounds of muck.

   On a sunny afternoon, miles away from the barn, I visited the cattle farm at Virginia Tech. I couldn’t help but believe my eyes with what I saw; as the man pulled the lever a gushing swarm of water came spilling out the side sweeping up all manure. The mixture of manure and water rushed underneath the cows’ feet and out back behind the barn. The manure was then separated into liquids and solids so the farmers could dispose of it properly. This system allowed for a labor free and fast-acting cleanup that prevented odors and diseases from spreading. 

   This innovative technique was nothing like I had ever seen. If all farms could utilize this, there would be a slim chance that animals would develop a sickness from standing in muck for an extensive time. That day I left the cattle farm with a new idea on how the innovation in agriculture at Virginia Tech could impact farmworkers everywhere.

– J.L

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