Jon Meyer shows where the manure is pumped from the barn to the Slurrystore on his family’s farm near Lake City, Minn.
Jon Meyer shows where the manure is pumped from the barn to the Slurrystore on his family’s farm near Lake City, Minn. PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA
    LAKE CITY, Minn. – For 30 years of his 32-year dairying career, Jon Meyer has had manure storage in the back of his mind.
    That dream turned into reality in July 2017 as the Meyers used their newly built Slurrystore for the first time. This addition to their farm was made possible with money provided to them from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Livestock Investment Grant.     
    Jon and Wendy, along with their son, Karl, and Jon’s father, Paul, milk 80 cows on their farm near Lake City, Minn.
    Before the Slurrystore, the Meyers’ manure pit underneath their freestall barn that was built in 1969  had to be pumped out every six to eight weeks.
    “[In the winter], If we hauled on a certain field, we watched it go through the neighbor’s fields [in the spring],” Jon said.
    Jon had to spread the manure from the pit on top of the snow in their fields in the winter, so by spring, a lot of the nitrogen was lost. It was also a challenge to determine which days to spread manure in the winter since the weather is unpredictable, Jon said.
    “It was hard on him going out in the winter time when it was freezing,” Wendy said.
    When deciding on what kind of set-up they wanted, safety was the No. 1 factor for Wendy.
    “I don’t want a lagoon with kids around,” she said.
    Jon agreed.
    “I would rather put something above ground than have a lagoon,” he said.
    Jon also wanted to build up rather than out because their freestall barn is close to the property line. He also did not want to take up pasture land. Plus, the Slurrystore came with a pump, which both Jon and Wendy liked.
    A Slurrystore has always been his ideal manure-storing facility.
    The process of planning the project started in March 2014. The Meyers decided to take their project to EQIP, a program through the National Resources Conservation Service that, the Meyers said, takes two years from the time of sign up until everything is approved.
    The Meyers were also required to establish a nutrient management plan for their farm as a part of this program. After the Slurrystore was built, the Meyers had to continue the nutrient management plan for an additional three years. In total, they said EQIP is about a five-year process.
    “You have to have patience because you don’t get money the next day,” Jon said.  
    The EQIP paid a total of $125,000 for the storage area and then provided additional money for the pumps and line from the freestall barn to the Slurrystore. In total, the Meyers received $133,000 from EQIP.
    The Livestock Investment Grant also helped pay for the costs of the Slurrystore.
    “I didn’t know about it until someone sent me an email,” Jon said. “There’s a lot of paperwork for the grant, but that one wasn’t too bad. They’re all about getting the money to the farmer.”
    The Meyers received $23,000 through the Livestock Investment Grant. This amounted to about 10 percent of the total cost of building the Slurrystore.
    “I think it’s worth the time to do the paperwork because its available, and they’re willing to help you get it,” Jon said.
    Even though the grant helped with the costs, Jon said he would have built the Slurrystore regardless of financial assistance.
    Like many farm projects, the Meyers ran into an unexpected cost when it came time to build the Slurrystore.
    “No matter what you build, you always have something come up,” Jon said.
    An engineer working on the project had to dig down seven feet on one side and three feet on the other to get to sand. It took 300 yards of gravel to fill the area – a $30,000 bill.  
    “This grant money helped pay for that,” Jon said.
    After 30 years of waiting, the Slurrystore was finished in July 2017.
    “For us it’s a big deal,” Jon said.
    Now, the newly built Slurrystore can hold up to 950,000 gallons of manure for one year while the old pit only held 124,000 gallons. It is located downhill and east of the freestall barn.
    The manure is pumped from the pit underneath the freestall to the Slurrystore. Jon pumps the manure to the Slurrystore in a couple of hours. He hauled manure out of the slurry store in the spring, and he plans to haul again in the fall. The Meyers are planning to haul manure once a year in the fall.
    In addition, the Slurrystore allows the Meyers to inject manure into the soil to reduce runoff. Jon said they are able to spend less money on commercial fertilizer. This year, the Meyers only put urea on 30 acres instead of the usual 90 acres.
    Overall, the Meyers invested $70,000 of their own money into the Slurrystore.
    “It’s worth taking the time,” Jon said. “It gets frustrating sometimes, but it’s something to look into.”