Industry experts, application crews and equipment manufacturers were on hand for The 2009 Upper Midwest Manure Handling Expo held in Boone, Iowa. The expo examined issues surrounding land application of manure such as farm biosecurity, minimizing the risk of hydrogen sulfide exposure, winter application of manure and manure application over tiled fields.

“When manure pump-out crews arrive at a farm, they should show up with clean vehicles, clean equipment and be clean themselves, including clean coveralls and boots”, says Rodney “Butch” Baker, DVM, Iowa State University. “Biosecurity is extremely important to modern swine production farms.”

One of the most costly diseases to the pork industry is Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome. “The PRRS virus likes the cold and wet and will survive in snow and ice,” warns Baker.  Keep in mind that boots and caps can also carry this virus as well as equipment. Wash and disinfect all equipment between farm locations. Baker recommended Synergize and Virkon as two very effective disinfectants when used according to label directions.

Jay Harmon and Randy Swestka, Iowa State University, addressed the danger of hydrogen sulfide gas during pit pumping and ventilation methods to reduce the risk. Hydrogen sulfide is a very dangerous gas that has the potential to kill humans or pigs.  The gas sometimes gives a warning by its smell of rotten eggs. However, when highly concentrated, the gas can be odorless. One breath of concentrated hydrogen sulfide can be lethal.

One technique to reduce the danger during manure removal is to avoid agitation methods that cause splashing or “rooster-tailing.” Instead, sub-surface agitation should be used. In addition, people should not be present in barns while pits are being pumped. Mechanical ventilation is more effective than natural ventilation in removing the gas during pumping.

Another topic covered at the conference held July 22 was winter manure application. Jeffery Lorimor, former Iowa State University professor, stressed the importance of proper timing for winter application of manure. Snow depth and timing of application are the biggest influences in nitrogen loss.

“The deeper the snow, the greater the potential for loss in the form of runoff,” says Lorimor. "Avoid winter application when warm temperatures are expected following application."  With early- and mid-winter application, melt-off will be less likely. Late winter application has more risk of melt-off occurring. 

The less snow accumulation, the less risk of loss you have.  Solid manure is less risky than liquid for winter application as it may reduce the risk of losses by reducing runoff. 

The expo was sponsored by Iowa State University’s Iowa Manure Management Action Group.