Spreading the black gold

Newcomers are shocked when they witness the spraying of "Gülle" or the black liquid cow shit and piss, considered gold by local farmers.

So what's going on?

In the olden days, farmers mucked out their stalls, scraping the liquid and solid cow excrement into wheelbarrows and dumping the mixture onto a pile outside. Problems began when farmers increased the size of their herds, and the shit piles grew. Run-off from these piles contaminated the ground water and made people sick.

To solve this problem, the government began requiring the installation of tanks to collect the black smelly, liquid manure. This liquid--which gets particularly stinky after stewing all winter long--is then pumped into a movable tank that is strapped to a tractor and sprayed onto pastures. As you can imagine, the stink is violent.

The benefit is that the spray feeds the grass without going deep enough into the ground to pollute groundwater. Much evaporates before it even hits the ground.

It can be quite a nuisance when you are planning to eat lunch outdoors, as for example, on an Easter weekend, a neighbor's favorite time to spray Gülle.

Our dog doesn't mind at all. He looooves going into the field after it's been sprayed. I haven't actually seen what he does in there. Don't really want to know.

Interestingly, farmers usually spray a few hours before rain comes, as the liquid can have a burning effect on grass. So, the spreading of Gülle is a useful precipitation indicator.

And the perennial debate continues: city people with secondary homes in the country complain about the stink, and the country people explain the importance of nutrient cycling. It reminds me of people who build homes next to airports and then complain about the noise. I just have to remember not to plan eating lunch outside on Easter weekend… a small sacrifice to pay for living in a chemical fertilizer-free area.

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