Try your best, but there are no guarantees that you will never encounter a manure spill. That’s why you can’t err too far to the safety side.

For starters, evaluate the area where your hog unit and lagoon or manure storage system are located, says David Townsend, environmental manager of Continental Grain Co. 

You may want to build some small containment berms that can catch spills from your barns, sewer system or recycle system. Each containment should have a valved outlet that usually remains closed. Make sure no manure has entered the containment before opening the valve to release storm water.

You also may want to consider using a float switch in your pits or sewer system that will shut off the recycle system in case of a plugged line or drain. An overflowing sewer can spill a lot of manure when the recycle pump continues to run.

If a spill does occur, have a cleanup contingency plan in place, Townsend suggests. The plan should include phone numbers for employees, regulatory agencies to report the spill, and local farmers or contractors in case you need additional help.

Also know where you can get a backhoe, bulldozer, pumps and hoses fast in an emergency. One of the more useful tools is a front-end loader that you may already have on a tractor. A little bit of soil placed in the right location can keep spilled manure on your property.

If manure enters a stream, consider damming the stream with soil to contain the manure. Check with your local authorities before damming the stream, and be conscious of your reporting responsibilities. Contained manure should be pumped back to your pits or lagoon or applied on cropland.