With harvest around the corner, manure application follows, so it's a good time to remember manure safety, according to Rich Gates, a University of Illinois professor and Extension specialist.
“Any liquid/slurry stores, when agitated, will release toxic hydrogen sulfide and methane gasses that can be lethal," Gates said, noting that a young farmer, plus 16 cows, in Wisconsin died from manure gas last week while agitating a large manure storage tank.
“Although this tragedy was truly an aberration, according to reports, it is important to remember the key safety rules when agitating and emptying manure stores,” Gates said. "These rules include taking steps to promote adequate ventilation, removing workers and, if possible, animals from buildings or nearby downwind structures and starting the agitation slowly and watching for any harmful effects. Never enter an enclosed manure store without appropriate precautions, and be mindful that you can be overcome with a single breath if concentrations are high.”
Gates notes that two fact sheets — “Safe Manure Removal Policies” and “Manure Storage Entering Procedures” — are available free online from the National Pork Board and the University of Illinois Extension's ag safety website.
“Don't forget the importance of ensuring that new or inexperienced workers are also trained in safety,” he added.
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