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Top 5 essential tools for successful manure management

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Successful manure management may be defined as the balancing act between attending to the cow’s well-being and allowing for the efficiencies required by a dairy farm.

An effective manure management system is one that uses the right tools, while utilizing the benefits of manure, for on- or off-farm use, without polluting the environment.  The best manure management practices are practical, cost-effective, and easy to implement. 

Here are the top 5 essential tools needed for successful manure management.

1- Solid Separation Equipment

Solid-liquid separation is the partial removal of organic and inorganic solids from a mixture of animal manure.  The goal of solid separators is to separate and remove solids from the liquid manure. There are several methods available to separate solids from liquids including:

  • Screen separators
  • Centrifuges
  • Presses (screw or belt type)

Top-of-the-line manure separation equipment used for solid separation may have many features that balance performance and reliability with labor and costs associated with the manure handling challenges facing today’s dairies. 

2- Bedding Composting

Compost is a mixture of organic residues (including manure) that have been piled, mixed, and moistened to undergo thermophilic (high heat) decomposition.

When it comes to manure management, composting is an excellent solution because:

  1. Animal manure and straw (bedding) are perfect materials used to create high-quality compost products
  2. Composting sterilizes the manure while leaving it nutrient-rich and odorless 
  3. The time-efficient process results in a salable product that can be spread in agricultural lands

In-Vessel Composting

The beauty of composting manure solids is that the aerobic bacteria which consume the organic matter are already in the solids, courtesy of the dairies’ cows.  The most effective way to compost manure is the in-vessel composting process.

  • In-vessel composting can process large amounts of waste while not taking up as much space as other methods
  • This process can accommodate virtually any type of organic waste
  • This method produces compost in just a few weeks.

In-vessel composting involves feeding manure into a drum, silo, or concrete-lined trench. Enclosing the manure enables good control of the environmental conditions such as temperature, moisture, and airflow. 

Once inside the vessel bugs proliferate as they finish the job begun in the cows’ stomachs. A blower pulls air through the drum, ensuring an ample air supply, which mixes with the solids that are tumbling from the rotation of the drum. Within just a few hours, the activity of the bacteria has brought the temperature to over 150°F where it stays as the material moves through the drum like a plug.

3- Sand Separation Systems

Sand is also known as the go-to solution for free-stall bedding material.  This material provides cows with the most comfortable resting surface. Due to its use, it is crucial for sand to have a low level of bacteria,  therefore sand tends to contain little or no organic material. 

Sand and manure often combine into a mixture with low flowability, a low ability to pump, and highly abrasive.  Managing these mixed materials may be a challenge and often require the use of special processing equipment. 

Enter the sand separation systems. Sand separation systems are used to settle out and wash bedding sand.  These systems can be set up in multiple ways depending on the type of manure conveyance system on-site.

Top-of-line sand separation systems are typically one piece of equipment that can be used for lifting, rinsing, and stack quality reusable bedding sand.

4- Manure Pumps

Manure pumps provide long-wearing, highly efficient solutions to the many challenges that manure management presents.

Manure pumps used in the industry include:

  • Vertical pit pumps
  • Agitators
  • Mixing pumps
  • Dairy flush pumps

Manure pumps enable operators to manage manure regardless of the size of the dairy by configuring pumps to different flow rates and manure consistency.

5- Decanter Centrifuges

Decanter centrifuges are self-contained machines that use high rotational speed (centrifugal g-force) to separate solids and liquids, making them an invaluable component of any manure management system.

Decanter centrifuges use a rotating cylinder to separate the solids from the liquid. Decanter centrifuges efficiently separate solids in the liquid manure from the liquid phase due to their high centrifugal acceleration.

Some of the benefits of using decanter centrifuges for manure separation include

  • Excellent nutrient recovery and phosphorus reduction 
  • High solids capture for clean lagoons
  • Cleaner flush water & reduced water usage
  • Lagoon water usable for pivot irrigation


Solids Separation has been a focal point for VDS since 2004. When it comes to manure, from cow to field, we want to be your first and last call.

Vision Dairy Services, Inc. was formed with the idea of providing quality manure management products, practices, and services to the Dairy industry.

Don’t stress about trying to figure out what equipment works best for your operation, download our offerings brochure to learn more information about what we can do for you and your operation!

Vision Dairy | Offerings brochure


Composting Manure for Bedding Reuse 

Types of Composting and Understanding the Process

Sand Separation Systems

Manure Management

About Vision Dairy Services

Vision Dairy Services, Inc. specializes in providing quality manure management products, practices, and services to the Dairy Industry.

Providing quality Manure Management Solutions, Solids Separation Equipment, Pumps, Automation Construction and Design, and land application equipment. As Daritech's partner, Vision Dairy offers solutions to provide quality manure management products, practices, and services to the Dairy industry.