Manure Manager

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From The Editor: July-August 2019

Planning ahead for prevention


July 29, 2019
By Jennifer Paige

In this issue of Manure Manager, you will find an additional offering. This month we have put together a handbook for manure storage spill safety.

In the enclosed Manure Storage Spill Response Handbook, we review the seven steps to managing a manure spill, provide vital tips for recording and reporting the spill and outline the emergency contact information operators should keep on hand.

While this resource focuses on how to handle a spill, ideally, it is best to prevent the spill from happening in the first place. Prevention and preparation are key to minimizing the impacts of a manure related emergency – do not wait for a problem to occur before you start to think about a plan.  

“The first thing is to prevent a problem from occurring in the first place. Then the second is thinking about where problems may occur and having a plan in place to deal with them,” says Kevin Erb, conservation professional training program director with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension. “Keeping an eye on things and making repairs before they become a big problem is vital. Operators need to be walking around the manure storage itself and looking for animal burrows or other problems, but also looking at and monitoring how much space is actually available in the storage facility.”

Erb explains that in 2010 in Wisconsin, while examining primary manure spills researchers found that there were quite a few manure storage overflows in April, which was expected as it is a time of the year when rainfall is high and operators may not be able to field apply due to an abundance of moisture in the field. However, according to Erb, researchers also saw just as many storage spill incidents in August, a time of year that should not present the same moisture challenges.

“That really surprised us. Why are we seeing so many in August? When it is dry when we are not getting rain or snow melt. In most cases we found it was overflows because people were busy with harvest and they just didn’t walk out back and see how full the storage was.”

It is suggested to keep a log of storage levels for good record keeping but also to ensure the consistency in these vital site inspections. When it comes to farm employees, Erb notes that most operations will review emergency spill plans with farm employees annually and operators should ensure all employees sign-off on the fact that they have read and understand the process of what is to happen if an emergency spill should occur.

“Having the employees trained is important but also having employees empowered to use their best judgement in dealing with the situation is critical,” Erb says.

For more information, check out this month’s special supplement the Manure Storage Spill Response Handbook.


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