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Mosey on Moro
Competitors show cattle in inaugural Aggieville Showdown

For a few hours on Saturday evening, cattle took over Moro Street during the inaugural Aggieville Showdown, a first-of-its-kind exhibition.

Organizers closed off Moro from North Manhattan Avenue to 12th Street, setting up a makeshift stage and ring for a western-inspired fashion show, live performances and a cattle show.

More than 200 entrants across the region competed at the Riley County Fairgrounds earlier in the day in showmanship, market beef and breeding heifer categories, with the top handful moving on to show their cattle in Aggieville. Depending on the category, judges assessed how exhibitors presented their animals, the quality of beef that animals would represent and maternal characteristics for breeding.

About 200 to 300 spectators observed the event, according to Dennis Cook, director of the Aggieville Business Association.

Organizers had initially planned to debut the event in 2020, but they put the idea on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. Saturday marked one of the first large organized, non-sporting events to take place in Manhattan since last year, a way to show to the wider public what happens in the industry.

Madison Loschke, 23, of Ford County, who won grand champion in showmanship, said she takes the work seriously and growing up on a 250-count commercial calf-cow operation, she’s always had a love for cows.

“I am probably one of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet about showmanship,” Madison said. “I also grew up showing horses, and I think that’s where (my passion) comes from. My family also shows horses, and I really focus on the small details.

“The way you’re dressed is important, the way your hair looks, even if you’re a boy, those things are all important and the way you present yourself. It’s important to have confidence when you walk out there. You have to be there to want to win. You have to want it more than anybody else in that ring.

“You also have to do the homework at home, and make sure your animal is set up and ready to go and knows how to hit the ring and do the things you need it to do.”

Dax Siebert, 11, of Pawnee County, also went on to win grand champion in the market steers division with his Simmental. He also placed fourth overall with another of his steers.

The top winners took home more than $5,000 in prize money, with first place earning $1,000.

Jackie Sleichter, 17, of Dickinson County, won the grand champion title for breeding heifer with her Chianina and said the achievement was something she strives for in her work every day, and taking first meant that that dedication she’d applied and advice from others had paid off.

“This experience has been absolutely incredible,” Sleichter said. “Never did I think I’d ever be in the middle of ... Aggieville showing a cow, let alone a grand champion heifer. I was shaking when it happened. Honestly I’m still shaking now.”

The power of wastewater: $2M grant will help KSU researcher explore ways to clean, use it

A $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will help Kansas State University researchers create new resources from sewage.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy announced awards totaling $27.5 million for water infrastructure projects in 13 states, including Kansas. All the projects awarded by the Department of Energy focus on developing treatment techniques to produce renewable power, extract any chemicals and fertilizers from wastewater, and reuse water locally, while minimizing energy consumption and waste.

The project at K-State receiving federal funding involves using what’s called an Integrated Anaerobic Membrane Bioreactor (AnMBR). Associate professor of civil engineering Prathap Parameswaran said this technology enables carbon material in wastewater to be converted into something useful.

“It’s a powerful precursor for making other useful chemicals, and also releases nutrients in a form that can be captured easily,” Parameswaran said. “Our proposed technique for this project is to really combine that anaerobic treatment technology, filtration technology, to convert all this waste… and make clean water.”

The total cost for the K-State project, according to the Department of Energy, is about $2.5 million distributed over three years, with $499,981 of that amount being shared among K-State and its partnering organizations, which include the University of Kansas, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, the University of Pittsburgh, and engineering firm CDM Smith.

That money is intended for evaluating opportunities to generate power from wastewater, and also addressing environmental and social inequities caused by a lack of access to clean water in rural communities.

Parameswaran said part of the expense stems from requirements that his team demonstrate these new technological and scientific concepts at scale.

“Some of the concepts proposed have not been evaluated at a full-scale plan yet,” Parameswaran said. “You need to invest in the correct level of resources, infrastructure, and involve multiple teams that are experts on each topic.”

The main concept of this project involves Parameswaran’s team funneling water from lagoons at the KSU Swine Learning and Research Center on the north end of university property in the Animal Sciences compound, into the anaerobic system. Parameswaran said he and other researchers will use a modified approach, enabling an electrochemical field within the water intake system to help separate and collect organic acids from the water.

Those organic acids, along with sludge waste produced by the treatment process, will be digested by a fermenting machine that is operated by University of Kansas researchers and later used in a variety of applications. Parameswaran said once the sludge and organic matter is separated, the water that is left is free of all carbon but still rich in nitrogen and phosphorous.

“We can capture those elements separately, and our hope is they will be beneficial for fertilizers,” Parameswaran said. “Finally, the water produced (from the anaerobic system) will be treated in a wetland and discharged or reused on the K-State Agronomy Farm.”

Parameswaran said a low-lying area of land near the swine lagoons will act as a final buffer or polisher before the water is discharged for final use. He said this process would also be good for animal feeding operations that face regulations on water use, as well as generate other products that can be used locally.

“Wastewater needs to meet all these criteria and has all kinds of components which have useful value,” Parameswaran said.

According to the Department of Energy, more efficient equipment, processes, and operations, along with retrofits to current water treatment facilities, can yield energy savings as high as 50% for the user.

Wastewater is also a potential source of thermal, chemical, and hydraulic energy, and it could be possible to convert wastewater into renewable power as well as reusable water.

The prototype of the anaerobic system developed by Parameswaran and his team is stored in a cargo container near the lagoons at the Swine Learning and Research Center.

“Our unit has a treatment capacity of 1,000 gallons,” Parameswaran said. “To provide an example for scale, the Manhattan water treatment facility’s capacity is somewhere between 3 million and 7 million gallons.”

The anaerobic unit will be fully operational by the end of April, and Parameswaran said the first phase of his team’s research will begin this summer. After spending two years at a smaller scale, he said his researchers have the equipment to size up their operation.

The project will help researchers learn more about how food and water systems are connected globally.

“As society grows there will be waste, and this puts us in a position to be good leaders into the next century,” Parameswaran said. “For that we really need revolutionized and forward-thinking ideas, and that’s where technologies like this come into place.”

Parameswaran said he believes this research will not only revolutionize the loop of global food systems, but also address public health concerns.

“If you don’t treat certain waters or wastewaters, it can lead to the spread of diseases and potentially the creation of another pandemic,” Parameswaran said. “This technology, this research, it can address all of that.”

K-State plan vigil, counseling sessions in anticipation of Chauvin verdict

Kansas State University will host counseling sessions and a vigil later this week in anticipation of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.

The prosecution and defense planned to give their closing arguments on Monday. Chauvin, a former police officer, faces second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes on May 25, 2020.

“As we have witnessed before, decisions in these cases have the potential to cause pain, social unrest and violence,” K-State President Richard Myers said in a written statement Monday. “While we can’t predict or control the outcome of this trial, we can determine our response to the jury’s decision. We call upon the K-State Community to approach this situation with a thoughtful, peaceful reaction, regardless of your opinions.”

K-State has planned four counseling sessions in the Phillip 66 Atrium of the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center:

  • Friday, 4-5 p.m.
  • April 26, 2-5 p.m.
  • April 27, 2-5 p.m.
  • April 28, 2-5 p.m

The university will hold a vigil/moment of silence and solidarity Friday at 3 p.m. in the Ray Dempsey Plaza at the Morris Family Multicultural Student Center.

Floyd’s death last year sparked calls for justice across the country, including in Manhattan.

The city had several days of peaceful protest, including one with around 2,000 protestors marching down Bluemont.

This also led to K-State students calling for university administrators to better handle incidents of racism and bigotry on campus after a former student posted a controversial joke on social media about Floyd in June.

KDHE: Kansas adds 429 cases, two deaths since Friday

Kansas added 429 new cases, 17 hospitalizations and two deaths since Friday, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

On Monday, KDHE said Kansas’ total since the start of the pandemic was 306,290 cases, 9,961 hospitalizations and 4,955 deaths.

KDHE said Geary County reported 14 new cases since Friday for a total of 3,271 on Monday. Since Friday, Pottawatomie County saw an increase of two cases for a total of 1,873 Monday, according to KDHE.

The Riley County Health Department will release its weekly coronavirus update Wednesday.