Protection
October 30, 2017 – Are you at risk while pumping out your manure storage system? Without throwing out the “here’s your sign” card, the simple answer to the question posed is – yes! Many producers know and understand the risk associated with confined manure handling systems but accidents and deaths still occur because unwarranted risks are taken as manure is being handled and removed from the confined manure handling systems.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • Does every employee understand the risks associated with confined manure handling systems?
  • Have they received proper training when dealing with confined manure handling systems?
  • Do you have the appropriate hazard signage posted near the confined manure handling system, warning people of the dangers?
  • Do you have the appropriate safety gear available and have you provided instruction to employees on using the equipment?
  • Do you have employees with limited English speaking skills?
  • Do they fully understand the safety risks and signage provided?
  • Do employees and family members have the ability to communicate location directions in an emergency 911 call?
These may seem like simple things, unfortunately they often go overlooked. We assume that everyone should know the risks and know what to do in an emergency. Taking the time to provide proper safety equipment, while simultaneously educating employees and family members about the correct safety protocols around confined manure handling systems helps prevent deaths and accidents.

So what is the risk with confined manure handling systems? Understanding that there is risk associated with manure pits and manure lagoons is important. They both produce toxic gases as the manure undergoes anaerobic digestive fermentation. The gases produced and the characteristics of each are below:

Methane – is an odorless gas that is flammable or explosive at concentrations of 5 to 15 percent by volume of air. The gas is lighter than air and typically found near the top of the pit and high enough concentrations can cause death by suffocation.

Hydrogen sulfide – is an extremely toxic gas with a “rotten egg” smell at low concentrations and which at high concentrations can paralyze the olfactory senses. It is heavier than air and often settles towards the bottom of the manure pit. At low concentrations it can cause dizziness, headache, nausea, and respiratory tract irritation. At high concentrations it can cause unconsciousness, respiratory failure and death within minutes. It is also explosive at various concentrations.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – is an odorless gas that is heavier than air and often settles near the bottom of the manure pit. At low concentrations it causes labored breathing, drowsiness and headaches. In high concentrations it can displace enough oxygen and cause death via suffocation.

Ammonia (NH3) - has sharp odor characteristics that irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Exposure to high concentrations can be fatal.

Besides understanding the various types of gases produced in confined manure handling systems, you should also follow these guidelines when working around confined manure handling systems.

Manure Pits

These are enclosed manure storage structures, which should be equipped with ventilation systems. They are often found in dairies as manure is pumped out to a lagoon or in confined swine operation buildings or certain types of beef finishing operations that utilize a confined building.

Follow these safety guidelines around manure pits:
  • Keep all manure pits ventilated and fans working properly.
  • Keep all manure pits covered with appropriately ventilated grating.
  • Post hazard signs near all manure pit entry point locations.
  • Never enter a manure pit unless absolutely necessary and only when proper safeguards are utilized.
  • If entry into the pit is necessary, test the air for toxic gases.
  • Never enter a manure pit unless someone is standing by and maintaining constant contact. The person standing watch should be able to lift an unconscious person wearing a safety harness attached to a lifeline. They should NEVER enter the pit trying to rescue someone and have the ability to communicate necessary information in case of an emergency 911 call.
  • Always wear a safety harness that attached to a mechanical device such as a winch, hoist or pulley. This is your lifeline, so the person on the outside must maintain constant contact with the lifeline.
  • Always wear a positive-pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
  • Provide a powered, explosion proof air ventilation system for each manure pit that will help bring in a continuous fresh air supply.
  • NEVER enter a manure pit to attempt a rescue without a safety harness and proper respiratory protection!
Manure Lagoons

They also produce toxic gases in localized layers, which, especially on hot, humid days with little breeze can cause a health hazard and potential death. Gases are readily released when lagoons are agitated to remove manure to be incorporated as fertilizer into the fields. They often have a thick liquid, floating crust, which can make swimming and buoyancy difficult if you were to slip or fall into the lagoon. Additional safety guidelines for manure lagoons are as follows:
  • Open-air lagoons should be fenced off around the perimeter with locked access gates to keep unauthorized people or unwanted animals from accidentally entering them.
  • Hazard signs posted at entry points warning of toxic gases and drowning dangers.
  • Wear a safety harness attached to a lifeline with someone on the other end that can drag you out if it is necessary to enter the lagoon.
  • Rescue equipment such as flotation devices and lifelines attached to every manure pump.
  • Move slowly around manure lagoons as the ground can be uneven causing a person to trip and fall.
  • Never work alone but all other unnecessary bystanders should stay away from access points or pump-out points.
  • No horseplay allowed in these areas.
  • No smoking or open flames allowed near agitation or pumping areas due to the explosive gases that may be present.
  • If equipment breakdown occurs during agitation or pumping shut it down and remove it from the lagoon area before servicing.
  • Follow the same 911 emergency call guidelines as manure pits, be able to describe the situation, number of victims, location and directions.
Safety is not a choice, it is something that we need to practice on a daily basis in agriculture. Enclosed manure hold facilities are one of many areas in livestock operations that have inherent risks. However, by following these recommended safety guidelines and training all involved we can be safer and live to see another day with loved ones and family.

Published in Storage
September 5, 2017, Watkinsville, GA – Melony Wilson-Cowart, animal waste specialist with the University of Georgia, sent out an alert Sept 5 warning Georgia CAFO operators about the possible impacts from Hurricane Irma.

“As you are well aware, hurricanes can produce a lot of rain over a short period of time so now is the time to check your lagoon levels,” she said. “If you expect you are near the path of this hurricane, lower your lagoons to the stop pumping levels, which can be found in your nutrient management plan. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Just always remember safety comes first so be careful out there.”

She also forwarded an alert from the University of Georgia’s agriculture climatologist, Pam Knox, who has been watching the progress of Hurricane Irma.

“If you are in south Georgia, you could see impacts from the storm as early as Saturday [Sept 9], although most likely you will not see much until Sunday [Sept 10] morning,” Knox said. “The major impacts from the storm in Georgia are likely to be strong winds, locally heavy rains and potential storm surge and high waves if you are along the coast. Some tornadoes are also possible. Because the storm is so powerful, the strong winds and rain could spread out a long way from the center of the storm, so do not let down your guard if the center does not come close to you.”

“With wet soils and trees that have been stressed from droughts in previous years, I expect a lot of trees to fall, cutting electrical power to many locations if the storm does not weaken as it moves up from Florida.”

“Since power may be out, it would be wise to make sure you have gas and cash for several days just as a precaution,” Knox stated. “Because Irma is moving along at a pretty good clip, we do not expect to see the amount of rain that Texas received from Harvey, but local areas could see some fresh-water flooding. Because of that, agricultural producers may wish to move machinery and livestock to higher terrain.”

Knox will be posting updates on her blog [http://blog.extension.uga.edu/climate] as well as on Facebook at SEAgClimate and on Twitter at @SE_AgClimate through the week.

Published in Dairy
August 28, 2017, Iowa - The risks of hydrogen sulfide in swine operations have been known for years, but beef operators also need to be aware of the dangers this gas can pose.

Increasing this awareness led Dan Andersen, assistant professor and ag engineering specialist with Iowa State University Extension, to create a series of four publications that provide information and resources to help farmers stay safe when working with manure.

"One breath of hydrogen sulfide at 500 parts per million is enough to render someone unconscious almost immediately," warns Andersen. "When you are working with a manure pit, and once you realize the gas is a problem, it's usually too late. Hydrogen sulfide gas smells at 1 to 2 parts per million, but levels above that amount knocks out your ability to smell, so our natural detection system goes away."

Pit gas monitors recommended

Information about the importance of monitoring for hydrogen sulfide and the types of monitors available for purchase is available in publication AE 3603, Hydrogen Sulfide Safety — Monitoring.

Monitors are available from ISU Extension, which has several models for farmers to test. READ MORE
Published in Swine
August 15, 2017, Madison, WI - The Wisconsin State Assembly will honor of the life a young farmer who died on this date a year ago as a result of a farming accident.

Mike Biadasz, 29, went out to agitate a manure pit on his family's farm near Amherst, when the crust layer on top of the pit opened, hydrogen sulfide gas was expelled. He died on Aug. 15, 2016 after being poisoned by methane gas.

The Assembly honored the young resident with a resolution that acknowledged his dedication to farming and the need for best practices to be established for manure pit agitation that mitigate risk and educate the public on hydrogen sulfide poisoning and other toxic gases. 



The 2017 State of Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 6, reads:

Relating to: honoring the life and contributions of Michael "Mike" Robert Biadasz.
Whereas, Michael "Mike" Robert Biadasz was born on March 22, 1987, in Stevens Point and passed away on August 15, 2016; and

Whereas, Mike attended Amherst Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Amherst High School in 2005; and

Whereas, Mike dedicated his life to farming at a young age, attending Mid-State Technical College in Marshfield and Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton and advancing in the Farming and Agricultural program; and

Whereas, Mike lived by the adage, "Live today like you are going to die tomorrow, but farm today like you are going to farm forever"; and

Whereas, Mike enjoyed hunting and the outdoors and spending time with friends and family, and always loved to make people laugh; and

Whereas, Mike was considered by many as a best friend and touched so many people throughout his life that more than 1,200 people attended his visitation to pay their respects; and

Whereas, Mike will be deeply missed by his family, friends, and neighbors; and

Whereas, Mike is survived by his parents, Robert and Diane Biadasz of Amherst, and three sisters: Amy (Tim) Tryba of River Falls and their children Everett, Bennett, and Hewitt; Lisa (Nathan) Grezenski of Rosholt and their children Jacob, Tyler, and Natalie; and Megan (Matt) Check of Wausau; and

Whereas, Mike's legacy will live on in his family and friends, who are encouraging farmers to attend safety training classes for best practices in manure pit management and heightening public awareness of hydrogen sulfide poisoning along with other toxic gases; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the assembly, That the members of the Wisconsin State Assembly declare August 15, 2017, Mike Biadasz Day and recognize that his lifelong passion of farming will live on in his legacy; and, be it further

Resolved, That the members of the Wisconsin State Assembly call upon all stakeholders in public health, agriculture, education, and training that best practices be established for manure pit agitation that mitigate risk and educate the public on hydrogen sulfide poisoning and other toxic gases. 

Resolved, That the assembly chief clerk shall provide a copy of this joint resolution to Robert and Diane Biadasz.
Published in Profiles
June 22, Wiota, WI — As farms have gotten larger and the equipment and storage facilities necessary to accommodate that growth have gotten bigger with them, the risk of injury and death on those farms has also increased.

About 75 emergency response personnel and farmers gathered June 12 at Cottonwood Dairy Farm just outside Wiota for a training session designed to help them understand the hazards of manure storage and handling systems. The workshop focused primarily on confined space and manure as safety procedures.

Cheryl Skjolaas, UW-Madison/​Extension agriculture safety specialist, and Jeff Nelson, UW-Madison machinery specialist and volunteer firefighter, took participants to various spots on the farm to see the farm's manure pits and associated equipment during the training session.

They talked about equipment that is safe to use in confined spaces, such as gas monitors and ventilation equipment, and fall protection devices. READ MORE
Published in Dairy
May 19, 2017, Manitoba - An agricultural watchdog group says it has concerns over how Manitoba's pig-producing industry is regulated by the provincial government.

And while the province says it wants to grow the industry, Hog Watch Manitoba said it has several issues with a recent proposal to make changes to the Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation (LMMMR). READ MORE
Published in News
May 9, 2017, South Wayne, WI – Manure storage and handling systems have changed in recent years due in part to larger farms, new technologies, and application restrictions. These manure storage and handling systems have potential hazards to workers and rescuers that include confined spaces.

To help both farmers and emergency response personnel understand the hazards of manure storage and handling systems, a safety workshop will be held at Cottonwood Dairy LLC, at 9600 Hwy D, South Wayne (southeast of Wiota) from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., June 12. Please arrive by 6:15 p.m. to sign in. READ MORE
Published in News
May 3, 2017, Winnipeg, Man – Scientists with VIDO InterVac have confirmed the application of heat to swine transportation equipment is an important step in ensuring pathogens will be rendered incapable of transmitting disease.

As part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc, scientists with the University of Saskatchewan, the Prairie Swine Centre, the Prairie Agricultural Machinery Institute and VIDO-InterVac are working to automate the cleaning of swine transport vehicles to speed up the process and cut the cost.

VIDO-InterVac is responsible for identifying approaches to inactivate the key pathogens responsible for the transmission of disease.

Dr Volker Gerdts, the associate director of research with VIDO-InterVac, said in this project scientists focused on temperatures and the amount of time at those temperatures needed to inactivate 12 pathogens, six bacteria and six viruses, considered important to the swine industry.

"Viruses in general are a little bit more difficult to inactivate because they are inside the cell but we also had a few bacteria, Streptococcus suis for example, which is also relatively resistant to heat," Dr. Gerdts said.

"If you were able to use a very high temperature, like 80 degrees, all of these pathogens will be destroyed within a very short period of time," he said. "Going lower, like at 60 or 65 degrees Celsius, then it would take much longer so it's really a combination of temperature and time.

"I can't really give you all of those but, if you were to go with a high temperature, like 80 degrees for example, that would be sufficient to kill most pathogens within minutes," he added. "If you were going to go with 70 or 65 degrees then you're probably looking more at 15 minutes or something like that."

Dr Gerdts noted the industry is using this approach already.

He said after cleaning, washing and disinfecting, they're baking the trailers but the various units are using slightly different temperatures and slightly different schedules.
Published in Equipment
April 27, 2017, Wilkes-Barre, PA – A state court judge cited Pennsylvania’s Right To Farm Act (RTFA) in recently dismissing a case from neighbors who filed a lawsuit over the use of liquid swine manure as part of the defendants' farming operations.

Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. decided to grant motions for summary judgment for the defendants and against a long list of plaintiffs who are landowners and neighbors of the hog operation. READ MORE
Published in State
April 20, 2017, Ithaca, NY – For many parts of New York State, not for the first time, March 2017 provided both deep snow and saturated wet conditions that presented significant manure related challenges, especially to daily spread and short term storage operations. The state's Department of Environmental Conservation recently issued a warning about risky manure spreading.

While the conditions are still fresh, every operation should take stock of manure storage options and look for ways to avoid application in these situations. Over the last few weeks, I have heard more comments than usual from farm and non-farm folks alike about seeing neighbors spreading manure on barely trafficable fields or even from the edge of the road.

If you find your operation in this situation, or if you strained to find fields that can hold up the tractor and spreader without getting stuck, runoff risk is likely to be high and application should be avoided whether you are a regulated farm or not. Spreading just before rain or snowmelt can be just as risky, even if a field can be driven on without getting stuck.

For stackable manure in the short term, temporary pile locations can be identified with the help of SWCD, NRCS, or private sector planners until better storage options can be installed.

New York State and federal cost share options are available annually; meet with your local SWCD and/or NRCS staff to start the process. The Dairy Acceleration Program can help with cost of engineering on farms under 700 cows.

Position your operation for the future: evaluate manure storage needs and implement solutions.
Published in Manure Application

April 13, 2017, Yakima, WA – A Lower Valley dairy is being sued over claims that it has violated the federal Clean Water Act for years, including contributing to the impact of a manure-related flood in the Outlook area earlier this year.

Published in Dairy

April 13, 2017, Emerald, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating a large manure spill from a dairy in St. Croix County.

Published in State

April 11, 2017, Charles City, IA — A revised resolution aimed at protecting the health of workers at large animal confinement operations was discussed by the Floyd County Board of Supervisors recently, and its sponsor hopes changes will result in more support this time.

Supervisor Mark Kuhn introduced a resolution at the board meeting the end of February to set worker health safety requirements for applicants seeking to get a state construction permit for a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). READ MORE

Published in Swine

April 11, 2017, Raleigh, NC – North Carolina lawmakers are taking steps to protect the world's largest pork producer from lawsuits accusing its subsidiaries of creating unbearable animal waste odor.

The 2014 lawsuits by about 500 rural neighbors of massive hog farms allege that clouds of flies and intense smells remain a problem nearly a quarter-century since industrial-scale hog farming took off. READ MORE

Published in Swine

April 10, 2017, Windsor Heights, IA – Plans to enable farmers and consultants to submit manure management plan updates electronically will lead off the April 18 meeting of the Environmental Protection Commission.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at DNR’s Air Quality Bureau, 7900 Hickman Road in Windsor Heights, IA. READ MORE

Published in Swine

April 10, 2017, Owatonna, MN – Public perception can dictate and lead to public policy. It is important for agriculture professionals to step out of their own boots and look at how they do business from the perspective of the general public. Is it a positive image? If not, the public may seek regulations to change it.

Rick Martens, the executive director of the Minnesota Custom Applicators Association, spoke to a group of manure applicators that were continuing their Commercial Ag Waste Technician training. READ MORE

Published in State

April 4, 2017, Kewaunee County, WI – A scientist who's looked into widespread well contamination in Kewaunee County says he's now urging owners of tainted wells to find another water source.

U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Mark Borchardt recently published findings that indicate cow manure is the leading cause of groundwater pollution in Kewaunee County. But he found that human waste from sanitary systems is spoiling drinking water there, too. READ MORE

Published in Dairy

April 3, 2017, Chicago, IL — Four new measures proposed in the Illinois legislature would tighten the state’s environmental protections on hog confinements and give local citizens more input in the permitting process as well as standing to challenge the massive facilities in court.

The legislation, announced March 28, was proposed in response to an August investigation by the Chicago Tribune. The bills would represent the first significant reforms to the state’s 1996 Livestock Management Facilities Act, which has been criticized for failing to keep up with the dramatic growth of swine confinements. READ MORE

 

Published in Swine

April 3, 2017, Albany, NY – Cows, whose methane-emitting flatulence has been cited as a culprit in global warming, now are being blamed, along with New York’s State Department of Environmental Conservation, for contaminating the state’s water supply with manure.

Riverkeeper and four other groups, including fly fishers and the Sierra Club, sued the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation in Albany County Supreme Court, demanding it strengthen a general water permit for large farm operations to bring it into compliance with the Clean Water Act. READ MORE

Published in Dairy

March 31, 2017, Roanoke, VA – State environmental regulators have cited a dairy farming operation in Franklin County for a manure spill into a creek that feeds into the Roanoke River basin.

The dairy operation agreed to pay a $3,250 fine in response to violations of the State Water Control Law at the farm.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality responded in September 2015 to a report of a manure spill in Maggodee Creek. The spill was traced back to the operation, where a concrete manure impoundment had a crack in it. READ MORE

Published in Dairy
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