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Monitoring Winter Manure Storage

Severe cold and heavy snowfall can wreak havoc on a farm’s manure storage structures and pumping equipment. Spills may be caused by pipes that burst or rupture, or have leaking joints.

Erica Rogers is an environmental extension specialist at Michigan State University. She says now is the time to inspect equipment and make repairs to lessen the risk of any spills or leaks before winter weather sets in.

"Looking for cracks is definitely a big thing because it compromises the storage, it compromises the equipment that you’re using, and the potential that you’re going to have a leak or something along those lines happening is a lot greater," says Rogers. "So, if you have a lot of rusting on the equipment, just kind of monitoring those areas to make sure that they’re still stable."

She also recommends checking to be sure there is adequate freeboard in liquid or slurry storage structures.

"It’s not necessarily an equipment check, but it helps save your equipment from a standpoint that if there is the possibility and the conditions are right and you have a good feel that if you can get some of that manure out before hitting some of those really cold winter temperatures, that will really help take a lot of pressure and stress and strain off of the equipment that you’re using," says Rogers.

How often should you check your system? It depends on many factors such as farm size, the complexity of the manure storage, and the weather. Develop a checklist of things to inspect including dates and times of inspection.  And, have an emergency plan in place in case of an overflow, breach, or leak.

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