Have a manure spill kit ready to go into action

A manure spill kit is a must have tool for Michigan dairy and livestock producers.

Protecting the environment is a major concern for animal agriculture. Over the last 10 years thousands of farms have evaluated, re-evaluated and improved their environmental management plans and practices. Without a doubt, these activities have made a positive difference in the environmental impact of animal agriculture. A major part of that effort has been about ensuring the manure spread on fields stays there and that the plant nutrients in that manure are utilized effectively by the crops planted there. To accomplish these two goals, farmers try to account for a whole variety of factors: weather, soil saturation, manure coverage, cover crops, soil types, slope and direction and depth of cultivation. But, the one thing that can never be completely accounted for are the events that cannot be controlled—the punctured tire, the blown hose, the cracked irrigation pipe or anyone of a hundred other possible accidents and failures. While these accidents are common enough, even expected, they can only be planned for, not prevented entirely.

If there is going to be some sort of accidental manure spill, it is better to be prepared than not. One way to prepare is to have a “Manure Spill Kit” assembled and ready to go. A spill kit does not require complicated engineering or training to use. It is merely a collection of tools and supplies, gathered ready to deploy to halt a sudden equipment failure or accident which has unleashed a flow of manure to somewhere it does not belong.

Dr. Kris Kohl, Iowa State University Extension agricultural engineer suggests the following items be assembled into a trailer or pickup-sized spill kit.

The “kit” should be held readily available for deployment during manure transfer and spreading. Because on a slope of even less than 2 degrees, liquid manure will flow as fast as 5 feet per second, time will be essential to getting any spill under control and contained.

Still, a large-scale trailer- or truck-mounted spill kit may not always be an available or efficient option for every farm situation. To help ensure some level of preparedness for all situations a small-scale “pocket” spill kit should be available. A “pocket” spill kit consisting of a roll of duct tape, 12ft. X 25ft. – 6 mil plastic sheet, utility knife and a shovel, can be stored away in a tractor or pickup cab ready to deploy on a small scale spill before it turns into a large scale spill.