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1,000 producers, vendors attend Iowa’s first manure expo

By Staff | Jul 31, 2009

Randy Swestka demonstrates the Hydrogen Sulfide Detection System used for manure removal during last week’s 2009 Upper Midwest Manure Handling Expo in Boone.

BOONE Approximately 1,000 attended the 2009 Upper Midwest Manure-Handling Expo last week at the Central Iowa Expo near Boone. It was the first year for the show to be held in Iowa.

The 2009 theme: “SET for Fall: Safety, Efficiency and Technology” was addressed throughout the show that offered everything from educational seminars, to exhibitor booths and field demonstrations.

“The majority of the attendees were folks in the manure handling industry,” said Ross Muhlbauer, with the Upper Midwest Handling Expo, planning committee which included custom nutrient applicators, livestock producers, that provide their own nutrient applications as well as others involved in the agricultural industry.”

The number of people that attended the show was just right for what organizers were expecting, Muhlbauer said.

“It was a benefit for the vendors that there was unique interest in their manure-handling equipment compared to the much larger general agricultural shows. The attendance may be higher, at the bigger shows, but people seeking manure-handling equipment is low,” he said.

Dr. Rodney Baker, Iowa State University veterinarian, discussed the importance of biosecurity in modern swine production farms with the emphasis on managing biosecurity during manure removal.

Both solid and liquid manure demonstrations were held throughout the day, which Muhlbauer said the vendor’s appreciated the extra communication and interaction available with potential clients while they’re products were in action.

Dr. Rodney Baker, Iowa State University veterinarian, discussed managing biosecurity on swine farms during manure removal.

Baker first explained the biosecurity risks to take into consideration with location, transportation and employees and visitors being at the top for main risks, but although waste management shows a slight risk for spreading diseases, it is something to always be cautious of.

Baker advised that when handling manure or visiting swine farms it’s always best to go from the healthiest site down to the more dirtier and unhealthy sites.

Another way to reduce the risk of spreading diseases to visit facilities that contain the oldest or least-likely animal to be carrying a disease or facilities with the smallest population beginning with boars, then sows, nurseries and finishers being at the highest risk for disease.

“The most important thing is to ask,” said Baker. “Follow guidelines of the farmer or company you are working for when hauling manure.”

As a vet, Baker said he divides biosecurity into three parts: Bio-Exclusion, Bio-Management, and Bio-Containment.

Although it is rare, the process of waste management spreads diseases, Baker said. Manure handlers should be aware of the potential pig agents that are in biological waste storage. These include gut bacteria, many of which are pathogens; numerous viruses; leptospirosis; parasite eggs; toxins and antibiotics.

“There are a lot of different agents in manure that can even affect you,” said Baker. “Some viruses live for months in manure so being careless dragging them from one farm to another can be very serious.”

There are many ways to avoid this spread and Baker recommends that operators should not enter a farm building for any reason.

“Never go onto a farm without permission. If disease would break out you’ll get blamed whether you did it or not,” he said.

Also, wash and disinfect equipment between locations; avoid wind drift soil incorporation is safest; vehicles used to haul waste management equipment should be kept clean inside and outside.

“Those vehicles will almost always get contaminated, even personal equipment,” Baker said. “Make the appearance that you’re clean, to not get blamed as well.”

Always observe farm biosecurity rules; in situations where biosecurity risk is uncertain obtain advice from experts and implement biosecurity training for employees.

“Biosecurity is something people producing pigs really understand today and are aware of every potential risk,” said Baker.

Hydrogen sulfide

Dr. Jay Harmon and Randy Swestka, both of whom are Iowa State University agricultural and biosystems engineers, discussed managing hydrogen sulfide when removing manure from deep swine pits.

Swestka reminded the audience of how dangerous of a gas hydrogen sulfide is and offered some emergency action plans as well.

Hydrogen sulfide, he said, is a colorless gas that is denser in air and will collect in low lying areas and will be transmitted through the air; has a strong rotten egg odor at low concentrations and has absolutely no odor at very dangerous high concentrations.

Hydrogen Sulfide he said is formed in manure pits by the reduction of sulfate to sulfide under anaerobic conditions, the sulfide then combines with hydrogen ions to form the gas.

When manure slurries are agitated the hydrogen sulfide gas can be released from the slurry in bursts into the air above the manure.

“This is a very dangerous gas that we need to consider,” said Swestka.

Swestka warned that odor should not be used as a warning of exposure, adding that hydrogen sulfide levels can change rapidly and one breath of a high concentration of the gas is enough to cause human death.

“No one should be allowed inside a facility as levels change rapidly,” he said. “Put a no entry sign that says pump activities are going on.”

Harmon discussed the agitation and ventilation strategies of controlling hydrogen sulfide gas.

When agitating, he said to not use above-surface agitation or splash slurry against the pit walls, but to rather use subsurface agitation, avoid directing agitation toward pillars or walls and to be sure to use agitation warning tags, warning tape or other physical barrier to prevent entry.

Harmon said that people should never enter a deep-pit swine facility during manure agitation and pumping and emphasized that “hydrogen sulfide smells at low levels, not at high levels, so you just don’t know.”

Increased ventilation reduces in-barn hydrogen sulfide concentrations, he said, but even high ventilation rates won’t make up for poor agitation management.

“Make sure to do the agitation right, there’s just no ventilation capabilities to overcome poor agitation practices,” Harmon said.

Mechanical ventilation, he said, provides better distribution while natural ventilation provides opportunities of “pockets” of high gas levels.

For curtain-sided facilities, Harmon recommends, during cold weather, to operate enough fans to provide 27 ACH (air changes an hour) with the curtain closed (which is about 25-20 cfm – cubic feet per minute).

During warm weather, operate all fans with the curtain closed and during hot weather, open curtains but beware of calm conditions.

For emergency ventilation if high hydrogen sulfide levels are suspected, Harmon said, to immediately stop all agitation; turn on all exhaust fans, but to not enter the building and open sidewall curtains.

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

All commercial applicators should discuss an emergency ventilation plan with facility owners or operations and an applicator should be familiar with ventilation system barn controls but make the facility owner/operator an active part of the ventilation decisions.

Swestka said that in the event of personnel collapsing inside a barn to immediately call 9-1-1 and request the fire department to retrieve the victim. They have the breathing apparatuses, he said, to safely remove them and to not attempt to retrieve them yourself.

Next shutdown agitation and pumping activities, if available, fully open curtains and increase fan ventilation, if not already at maximum without entering the facility.

In the event of personnel collapsing outside of the barn, he said to call 9-1-1, then move the victim to fresh air and initiate CPR and/or rescue breathing as necessary.

A Hydrogen Sulfide Detection System for manure removal in deep-pit swine housing has been developed, Swestka said.

This system, he added, is a low-cost wireless hydrogen sulfide detection system where the remote sensor is placed in the swine housing and receiver is monitored by the applicator outside.

The receiver provides a continuous readout of in-barn hydrogen sulfide concentrations at its location and a visual and audible alarm is activated when the user-programmed levels are detected.

Multiple systems, he said, have been tested by manure slurry applicators during the fall of 2007, spring 2008, fall 2008 and spring 2009 and so far the system he said has performed very well, and proven to be robust under field conditions.

Other education sessions held throughout the day included advances in subsurface application of solid manure, applying manure on frozen ground and managing manure application over tile.”

Manure handlers had the opportunity to attend all six sessions to renew their commercial nutrient applicator certification.

The 2010 Upper Midwest Manure-Handlers Expo will be held July 15, 2010, at the Penn State Ag Progress Days facilities, in Furnace, Penn.

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