| November 9, 2009
A Penton Media, Inc Publication
Manure pit-related explosions or flash fires have occurred recently
in both Minnesota and Iowa livestock buildings. Luckily, the explosions,
to date, have mainly resulted in building damage, with few animal losses
and no personal injuries or fatalities reported.
Agricultural engineers, animal scientists and an industry consultant
recently developed recommendations to help producers understand and deal
with the potential danger.
A number of gases are released when liquid manure is agitated to suspend
solids and create a slurry that can be pumped and applied to cropland.
Some of these gases, such as hydrogen sulfide, are hazardous to people
The ignition danger mainly comes when methane is released. Because of
its flammable nature, an explosion will likely occur if the methane
concentration in the barn/pit reaches its explosion threshold of 4-5%
(40,000 to 50,000 ppm) and there is an ignition source, such as a pilot
light on a heater.
Industry specialists offered these suggestions to help prevent a
For additional information on the dangers of gas-related pit
explosions, go to the following websites:
- Provide continuous ventilation to prevent a gas buildup;
increase ventilation during agitation to quickly dissipate released
gases. Sufficient ventilation or exchange of air in the barn is
essential to keep the concentration of methane below the explosive
threshold. An estimate of what is sufficient air exchange in a barn
while agitating and pumping a manure pit is at least two to three times
the minimum ventilation rate (or around 10 air changes per hour) for the
barn. If the pit is full or nearly full, do not rely only on pit fans to
supply this airflow rate, since these fans may be severely restricted.
Because methane is lighter than air, it may be better to use only wall
fans to supply this air exchange while agitating/pumping the barn’s
manure pit. Make sure normal ventilation inlets are open and operating
properly to ensure good air distribution in the barn. This is also
important in preventing animal deaths during agitation and pumping.
Agitate and pump pits when barns are empty whenever possible.
- Turn off heater pilot lights and non-ventilation electrical
systems, such as the feeding system, that might produce an ignition
spark. Not providing supplemental heat in the barn may be
problematic when the barn is occupied by small animals or when the barn
is empty. This may restrict pumping to warmer days.
- When pumping pits that are close to being full, pump without
agitation until manure is about 2 ft. below the slats. This will
allow pit fans to perform properly during agitation and provide more
dilution space for methane and other gases that are released.
- Foaming of manure pits is a growing and significant concern that
may be related to the explosion incidents. Some of the recent cases
have reported “foaming” or extensive bubbling on the manure surface
prior to the explosions. Some reports noted that several feet of foam
can develop in a matter of days. Some manure pits will foam while others
do not. Currently there is no consistent solution to controlling this
foaming and experts do not understand the contributing factors, such as
diet, manure pH and other causes. More relevant information and
preliminary field measurements are being collected in producers’ barns
to see what techniques and products are effective at reducing foam
University of Minnesota Extension’s swine website: www.extension.umn.edu/swine/porkcast/barnventilation.html
Iowa State University press release
Minnesota Pork Board website: www.mnpork.com/producers/index.php.
Now’s the Time to incorporate a Slurrystore System into your nutrient
management program. Slurrystore is compatible for any system whether
your goal is long term storage, nutrient retention, green containment,
digesters or manure processing. Plus Slurrystore Systems include the
added feature of agitation to help ensure nutrient consistency. Click here or contact your local
Authorized Slurrystore Dealer for more information.
The bioprocessing team at Kansas State University's Advanced
Manufacturing Institute (AMI) in collaboration with the Kansas
Environmental Management Associates has developed a new patented process
for recovering excess phosphorus from feedlot waste streams to create a
slow-release granular fertilizer. The new system can reduce phosphorus
levels between 40 and 60%, depending on the nutrient management
requirements of a particular feeding operation.
“Over the past few years, the Environmental Protection Agency has
been working on legislation to limit the level of phosphorus in crop
field runoff,” says Gina Becker, AMI bioprocessing team leader. “One
of their main concerns is the use of wastewater from concentrated
feeding operations. As a result of legislation, people in the industry
across the nation are looking for economical ways to reduce phosphorus
levels prior to applying it to fields.”
The bioprocessing team initially developed the phosphorus recovery
process on a small-scale model in the laboratory. A pilot-scale model
followed and was tested on a Kansas State cattle feedlot lagoon. The
next step involved moving to a fully automated, farm-scale testing
process at Supreme Cattle Feeders in Liberal, KS.
According to Kylo Heller, director of development at Kansas
Environmental Management Associates, The system solves two problems: it
helps feedlots cost-effectively remove phosphorus and meet Environmental
Protection Agency regulations, and the granules allow for more efficient
phosphorus distribution from high concentration areas to low
concentration areas. “Feedlots can benefit from this process because
it allows them to be competitive in an industry where regulatory
compliance costs are increasingly burdensome and it concentrates the
phosphorus so that it is easier to transport further distances,”
Learn more about the new system online at www.amisuccess.com/news/10-29-09.asp.
For many pork producers, manure application follows closely on the
heels of the corn and soybean harvest. This year may prove more
challenging than most, due to the wet weather and excessive soil
moisture, according to Paul Walker, Illinois State University animal
science professor. He says a delayed grain harvest means there may be
little opportunity to land apply manure before soils freeze in some
parts of the country. “Even in those cases where farmers have been
able to harvest corn and soybeans, wet soils increase the chances of
nutrient leaching and runoff during or after manure application,” he
states. Walker provides seven management practices to help prepare for
fall manure application:
- Review nutrient management plans. To prevent leaching
and/or runoff resulting from manure application, lower manure
application rates may be warranted. Nutrient leaching may increase when
injecting liquid manure and solids runoff may increase when spreading
solid manure during episodes of high rainfall. Consequently, additional
land may be required for manure application this fall. Using fields with
flatter slopes and lower phosphorous index scores may be a good idea.
Plan ahead. Manure application may have to wait until emergency
application guidelines for frozen ground are applicable. Review of your
current nutrient management plan and noted application methods,
application rates and fields of choice may require revising for this
year. Making updates now may save time, energy and costs later.
- Develop an emergency application plan. The incidence of
manure spills increases when the weather is harsh. “Handling manure is
bad enough on a sunny, 80-degree day. Near-freezing temperatures, wet
weather and muddy conditions increase the chances for something to go
wrong,” Walker says. Train employees in manure spill response.
Emphasize who to contact, safety issues and what to do when emergencies
- Take manure samples. If nutrient overload, runoff and/or
leachate are a potential problem, as it is this year, it is especially
important to know the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)
concentration of the manure. High nutrient loads mean more land area
required for application. In a wet year, balancing nutrient application
with potential for runoff is more important than normal to prevent
environmental contamination. Sampling ahead of land application helps
plan which fields can be used.
Sampling during land application or manure agitation may provide more
accurate nutrient results for planning future application rates but it
will not help plan application rates for this fall. It is important to
build a history of nutrient analyses over time for manure sampling to
help manage the nutrients in manure for crop production over the years.
Correct sampling technique is most important. A sample that is not
representative of the manure volume is of little value. Slurry sampling
is best accomplished using a probe of sufficient length to reach to the
bottom of the storage tank. Sampling should only take place immediately
following agitation and multiple samples from several locations in the
pit should be collected and pooled, especially if only one sample will
be sent to a laboratory for analysis. For solid manure, several grab
samples from several locations in a manure pile both inside and outside
of the stack should be collected and pooled.
- Take soil samples. Soil samples should be taken prior to
manure application. If a field has not been sampled recently, then one
sample for every 2.5 acres is best. Generally one sample collected for
every 10 acres is adequate for fields that are routinely sampled, Walker
- Calibrate application equipment. “Calibrating manure
application equipment takes a little time, but in the long run it will
help meet the correct application rate and make better use of manure
nutrients,” according to Walker.
To determine how much solid manure a manure spreader applies, Walker
suggests laying out a 56-sq. in. sheet of plastic. Spread manure across
the plastic sheet at the desired rate of travel and spreader settings.
The net weight in pounds collected on the plastic sheet is equivalent to
the tons-per-acre application rate. Remember, N, P and K are calculated
based on the dry matter weight of the manure – not the wet weight
basis -- unless the laboratory has been given directions otherwise.
- Timing of application. Manure application on dry soil is the
best option. Try to apply at least 24 hours before a substantial
rainfall to help prevent runoff. Injection of slurry is a necessity, but
it requires dryer soil conditions. Surface application of solid manure
should be followed by some kind of primary tillage, but even disking in
freshly applied manure is more desirable than no tillage at all.
Applying manure to snow-covered or frozen ground may not be allowed
except under emergency conditions and, Walker says, this looks like it
could be one of those years in some states.
- Consider the neighbors. “Yes, manure does have odor. In
blunt terms, it just smells bad. That is not perception. It is reality.
Therefore, inform your neighbors. Let them know about manure application
plans. If possible, tell them how long it might take, how you plan to
apply the manure, and how long they might expect to smell the manure.
Inquire about any outdoor events in the neighborhood, such as weddings,
cookouts, etc. and try to avoid those times for application. This will
be extremely difficult this fall because we seem to have such small
windows of opportunity to land apply manure. Most neighbors will
understand. Some won’t, but at least make an effort. It may yield
future dividends,” Walker concludes.
Are you getting optimum value from your ag nutrients? Ensure an even
nutrient blend and consistency with every load using a Slurrystore® and
its center agitation system. There’s no better choice for long term
ag nutrient storage. Now’s the Time for Slurrystore. Click here or contact your local
Authorized Slurrystore Dealer for more information.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin requiring the
collection of greenhouse gas (GHG) data from large emitters on Jan. 1,
2010, under a new reporting system. The new system will cover
approximately 85% of the nation's GHG emissions and will apply to
roughly 10,000 facilities, according to the eXtension website.
One of the significant changes from the proposed rule is the size of
facilities required to report emissions. EPA will require annual
reporting if the average annual inventory is:
The EPA defined many of the inputs to GHG calculations, such as nitrogen
excretion rates, maximum methane potential, and nitrous oxide emissions.
- Beef cattle: 29,300 head
- Dairy cattle: 3,200 head
- Swine: 34,100 head
- Poultry: 723,600 layers; 38,160,000 broilers; and 7,710,000
The first report will cover emissions for 2010, and will be due March
31, 2011. The goal of the new reporting system is to provide a better
understanding of where GHGs come from and to guide development of
policies to reduce emissions. Agriculture is estimated to generate 7% of
GHGs in the United States.
The final regulations on the new reporting system and reporting
requirements can be accessed by going to www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ghgrulemaking.html.
Registration will be accepted at the door for the Iowa-Minnesota
Drainage Research Forum to be held at Iowa State University (ISU) in
Ames, IA on Nov. 10. Those interested in agricultural drainage research
issues and projects in the Upper Midwest are invited to attend.
The program will feature results and updates on drainage research and
implementation projects by university and agency research leaders from
Iowa and Minnesota. Topics to be covered include drainage water
management and water quality, bioreactor research for nitrate reduction,
and reports on drainage water management performance in Iowa, Indiana
Registration is at 8 a.m. and the program runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The
event will be held at the Scheman Building on the ISU campus and is
jointly sponsored by Iowa State University and the University of
Minnesota. Registration costs $65. Additional information, a detailed
agenda and online registration are available at www.aep.iastate.edu/drf.
The Iowa State University Integrated Crop Management Conference will
be held Dec. 2 - 3 on the Iowa State University (ISU) campus. Conference
attendees can choose from 34 workshops that offer the latest information
on crop production and crop protection technology in Iowa and
surrounding states. Workshops are offered by ISU staff and invited
speakers from around the Midwest.
Each year ISU specialists invite colleagues in their field to share
their research activities with conference attendees, providing expertise
from across the region and country, note the program’s organizers.
Nutrient management workshops during the conference include:
Other sessions will cover topics such as providing service and support
to watershed improvement projects across Iowa, effectiveness of
variable-width buffer design for sediment reduction and tillage and
cover crop effects on productivity, and soil properties and nitrate
leaching, among others.
- Dealing with sulfur deficiency in Iowa corn production -John
Sawyer, Agronomy, ISU. Sulfur deficiency in Iowa cropping systems is
a new production challenge. Past research in Iowa had not shown sulfur
fertilization need until recent research documented large yield increase
connected to sulfur application in northeast Iowa alfalfa fields. The
session will cover current sulfur research results and fertilization
suggestions for Iowa corn production.
- Do new corn hybrids, yield level and soil sampling time influence
potassium fertilizer recommendations? Antonio Mallarino, Agronomy, ISU.
This presentation will focus on results of new potassium management
research. Results will be presented from two projects that looked into
possible effects of new corn hybrids, higher yield levels and different
soil sampling timing on soil-test interpretations and fertilizer
recommendations for potassium.
- Impact of application rate and timing on nitrate-nitrogen loss
through subsurface drainage systems - Matthew Helmers, Agricultural and
Biosystems Engineering, ISU. Research has shown a good correlation
between nitrogen application rate and annual subsurface drain
nitrate-nitrogen concentrations under conventional cropping systems. The
impact of timing, however, is not as clear. Some studies show increased
subsurface nitrate levels when fertilizer is applied in the fall and
some show no difference between fall application and spring application.
A project outlined during this session will discuss possible reasons for
The conference is hosted by ISU Extension, the College of Agriculture
and Life Sciences and the Departments of Agronomy, Entomology, Plant
Pathology (AEP), and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. The
program begins at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 2 in the Scheman Building and the
program concludes at 4 p.m. on Dec. 3. To register online or for more
information, visit the AEP website at www.aep.iastate.edu. Registration
before Nov. 20 is $185; after Nov. 20, registration increases to $235.
Enrollment is limited and no registrations will be accepted at the door.
Learn more about the Conference online at www.aep.iastate.edu/icm/homepage.html.
eHay Weekly is a weekly compilation of prices and marketing
information for commercial hay growers. Updates include local market
conditions, state and regional hay association news, hay prices from
around the nation, and links to USDA weekly hay reports. eHay Weekly is
brought to you from the editors of Hay & Forage Grower.
The November eXtension webcast presentation is slated to focus on
air quality regulations. Presenters will provide updates on the latest
information related to animal agriculture and federal programs. Topics
tentatively planned will include greenhouse gases, cap and trade, and a
recent court ruling on the “dust rule.”
More information will be posted at: www.extension.org/pages/Upcoming_Webcasts
as it becomes available. The webcast is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 20,
2009 at 2:30 pm (EST)/1:30 pm (CST)/12:30 pm (MST)/11:30 am (PST).
On the day of the webcast, go to www.extension.org/pages/Live_Webcast_Information
to participate. First-time viewers should follow the steps at www.extension.org/pages/How_Do_I_Participate_in_a_Webcast
a few days before the webcast to ensure access to the virtual meeting
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking the public’s
assistance in prioritizing future enforcement and compliance activites.
The agency is developing priorities for the 2011-2013 fiscal years. The
2008-2010 priorities include concentrated animal feeding operations
(CAFOs) and eight other topics.
To learn more about EPA’s enforcement priorities, the criteria for
selection for new enforcement priorities, or to submit comments, visit
NHF Weekly Preview provides pork
producers in the United States and Canada with weekly analysis of items
that will impact their business. NHF Weekly Preview is brought to
you from the editors of National Hog Farmer.
Send Comments & Questions To
Dale Miller, Editor,
National Hog Farmer
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