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Hog producer invents liquid lime applicator for manure pits


March 8, 2008
By Tony Kryzanowski

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The struggle of touting hundreds
of 40 kilogram bags of lime through narrow barn corridors to treat
manure pits and the health hazards to humans and livestock when dealing
with dry lime are what motivated a Manitoba threesome to invent their
award-winning Lime Solutions Application Machine.

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A concentrated liquid lime solution means that both employees and hogs at Hytek are not subjected to the health hazards presented by the highly corrosive nature of dust from dry lime.

The struggle of touting hundreds of 40 kilogram bags of lime through narrow barn corridors to treat manure pits and the health hazards to humans and livestock when dealing with dry lime are what motivated a Manitoba threesome to invent their award-winning Lime Solutions Application Machine.

The design is so simple that any motivated farmer can assemble the required hardware. That is exactly what employees at pork producer, Hytek Limited are hoping they will do to manage nasty diseases in hog barns without throwing their backs out in the process.

Essentially, the machine creates a concentrated liquid lime solution that is sprayed on barn slat floors, as well as on manure pit walls and floors after the pits have been rinsed and drawn down, and before a new group of hogs is brought into the barn room. Less lime is required when the pits are drawn down.

“This method is an economical way to deal with some of the nasty, hard to eradicate diseases that are floating around inside barns,” says Hytek director of capital development, Wilf Sawatzky. “It’s fairly user-friendly and there’s not a whole lot of science involved, as long as you are testing the pH inside your storage pits. This system is meant to benefit the industry as a whole.”

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It takes Hytek employees about 2.5 hours to complete a concentrated liquid lime application on a 600 hog nursery barn. By raising the pH to above 12 within stalls and in manure pits, the company is able to eradicate troublesome viruses and bacteria.


Sawatzky, maintenance director Kevin Barkman and production manager Ernie Kehler were the brain trust behind the design and construction of the Lime Solutions Application Machine. It started when veterinary staff at Hytek pointed out that elevating the pH to at least 12 in the manure pits using lime was a cost-effective way to eradicate diseases. Prevention and treatment of diseases is critical for hog producers. As Canada’s second largest pork producer at more than one million hogs annually, there was a lot riding on Hytek maintaining its international reputation for operating high quality barns.

When the first shipment of 700, 40 kilogram (100lb) bags of lime arrived, Sawatzky, Barkman and Kehler realized the difficulty of the task before them, and thus the idea of a liquefied lime delivery system began to take shape.

The designers started with a common, commercial sprayer implement and simply removed the spray booms. Initially, employees simply poured the bagged lime into the sprayer tank, but they now use an auger with a bag cutting device at the in-feed to both reduce the amount of manual labor required to handle the heavy bags and the health risk of coming into contact with the lime.

A pallet of dry lime bags is delivered to the machine’s location. The 500 to 800 gallon tank is filled with water, and an employee begins placing lime bags in the auger basket where the bag cutter is located. The dry lime is then augered into the tank. The agitation pump removes the liquid from one end of the tank and replaces it at the other end to ensure there is enough agitation so the lime can mix evenly and is not allowed to settle. Hytek uses a three horsepower, gas-powered, three inch Honda pump to agitate the tank mixture.

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All of the R components for Hytek’s lime application machine are readily available at an implement dealer and farm store and can be assembled for under $4000.

Another three horsepower, two inch Honda pump propels the concentrated lime mixture through a hose to the barn. Hytek has tested and settled on specific nozzles that provide the company with a spray pattern that delivers the best results.

“The objective is to get the concentrated lime into the creases and crevices of the flooring material and the concrete,” says Sawatzky. Because the lime adheres to the walls, it needs to be washed off once an application is complete.

The lime application machine will work as a stationary unit for individual barns or it can be designed as a portable unit. Hytek has installed cradles on the sprayer frame to hold the pumps, which can be placed and attached in no time because of the quick coupler system used on the connecting hoses. The pumps themselves are special fertilizer pumps designed to handle chemicals, and are available at any farm or fertilizer store. Sawatzky says purchase of quality pumps is critical to ensure the high performance of the system. Depending on the size of the holding tank and whether it is new or used, a complete machine package can be assembled for less than $4000.

Hytek is currently applying the concentrated lime on a room-by-room basis between hog finishing cycles. Because the lime is in liquid form, it does not irritate hogs in other rooms as was the case when Hytek applied dry lime to the pits. Therefore, a complete barn evacuation during an application is not required. Also, the lime does not clump up in the manure slurry and a concentrated liquid stream is easier for the operator to control.

After pre-washing of a manure pit, it takes about 2.5 hours to complete an application in a nursery room of 600 hogs.

“Because of how effectively this application works, we feel it is well worth the effort,” says Sawatzky. Hytek has no plans to commercialize the system and is happy to share the system’s design with anyone who inquires.


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