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When it comes to lagoon liners and covers, Chris Ulmann says he sees more of some things than others.

Intensive livestock operations can use a naturally occurring protective layer, compacted soil or synthetic liners when constructing a lagoon.

Ulmann, who works with Alberta Agriculture, said he sees more compacted soils than synthetics, but there are alternatives.

Alberta regulations allow for an alternative liner to be used, provided it matches or exceeds the guidelines for a compacted soil liner for thickness and porosity.

Producers can also build concrete or steel tanks in areas with coarse soils or ground with a mix of clay, sand and gravel.

“If you had a really shallow water table and you can’t go into the ground hardly at all with a synthetic, then you’re probably going to be moving up that price chain and looking at concrete or steel tanks.”

The most commonly used cover system is a natural one: letting the lagoon form a crust.

More producers may eventually adopt lagoon covers to capture methane, but now the most common alternative cover is to use straw to control odour.

“That’s the primary reason for doing it, but it does require some equipment to go out there and chop straw,” said Ulmann.

“If you don’t have neighbour issues, you’re probably not going to cover with straw.”

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