Best practices for manure storage
Manure provides essential soil nutrients, and because it is so rich in nitrogen, it is an asset to farmers. Its value, however, depends on a number of factors. In some instances, storing manure on the farm can even become more of a liability than an asset. Therefore, proper storage is mandatory.
Types of manure and their respective nutrients
According to the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Small Farms Fact Sheet Series, the type of manure and the way it is handled impacts how many nutrients are present.
Typically, poultry manure contains the highest amount of nutrients, while horse manure contains the least. Bedding that is present in the manure often dilutes the concentration of nutrients.
Proper storage of manure
Manure is used to fertilize crops and improve soil conditions. Improper storage, however, can lead to a number of issues. Healthy Landscapes, an online publication by the University of Rhode Island, indicated manure must be contained, covered and located far from water sources. The location is critical, as storing manure near a well, drainage ditch or wetland area may contaminate water supplies. Piles should be stored more than 100 feet away at a minimum, but placing them more than 200 feet away is best.
Groundwater can also be contaminated by manure piles if they are not properly contained, because liquids with a high concentration of pathogens and nutrients can leak into groundwater. To combat this, farmers should line and cover piles. Using compost or wood chips to line the bottom of a manure storage area is an affordable solution. Typically, farmers should replace whatever material is used as a liner every six months.
Also, farmers must make sure to keep rain water and runoff away from the manure pile. This can funnel harmful pathogens to unwanted areas. Roofing and covering manure piles are great ways to guarantee optimal protection of the pile and its contents.
“Groundwater can be contaminated by manure piles if they are not properly contained.”
In addition to ensuring manure does not contaminate water supplies, it is also important for farmers to practice proper safety measures. Depending on the amount of manure stored and the method, there may be harmful gases present. A confined space manure storage facility’s air must be regularly monitored for hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon monoxide and dioxide, methane and oxygen, according to the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety.
Ventilation fans are crucial for optimal safety. Farmers should check that these are operational prior to entering a facility.
Whenever entering a manure storage area, farmers must have a reliable witness outside who is available for continual communication.
Affordable storage options
While there are many types of storage options for manure, some are more affordable than others. To ensure proper coverage, protection from water and ventilation, farmers can turn to a fabric structure from Winkler Structures. This strong and portable storage option allows farmers to keep piles covered, dry and ventilated.
In addition, the portability of this product provides farmers with the ability to move the location of their manure pile if necessary. A Winkler Structures fabric building can also be constructed in as little as three to five days, which provides farmers more time to complete other tasks and jobs quickly.
Manure can be an asset if properly stored and protected, and partnering with Winkler Structures provides farmers with simple and dependable solutions. Contact your nearest Winkler Structures dealer to get a quote today.