Reducing manure volumes produced throughout the year is certainly worth considering when building a manure management plan. For example, what goes into your manure pit other than manure, urine and wash water? Additionally, it is important to note waste water can be from several sources, including:
1. Leaking drinkers and water lines,
2. Pigs wasting water when they drink; and,
3. Rain water entering the pit.
Leaking drinkers and water lines: One way to determine how many gallons go into the pit on a daily basis is to take a water meter reading when there are no pigs in the barn or no washing activities planned. Check the reading after a 24-hours. According to Adam Hocker’s 2014 Pork Congress presentation, Brenneman Pork in Iowa had records from 22 finishing barns that were leaking on average 4,000 gallons of water per week. That would be over 200,000 gallons of wasted water in a 2,400 head barn per year. Kevin Elder with the Ohio Department of Agriculture said, “Additional research has shown the diluted manure moves easier to subsurface tile. If manure has at least 4% solids and even better 8% solids it moves much less to drainage tile.”
Pigs wasting water when they drink
Research has shown there are differences in the amount of water wasted from drinkers of varying styles. As such, it is recommended to check the flow rate of your existing drinkers. Pigs only consume water at a given rate, dependent upon the size of pig, and higher flow rates lead to more wasted water. Research shows that water flow for a nursery should not exceed 45 seconds to fill a 16-ounce container. Comparatively, the flow rate for a grow finish should not exceed 30 seconds to fill a 16-ounce container. Water line pressure should be 20 psi; however, it is important to make sure you have adequate flow rates throughout the barn. If drinker height is adjustable be sure to adjust as pigs get bigger. In general, nipple height should be at pig shoulder level, or slightly above.
Rain water entering the pit
Evaluate outside landscaping (settling ground), especially around pump out ports to determine if surface water is entering the pit. There are barns that have pump-out ports that have separated, or cracked, from the pit walls and have allowed roof water to enter the pits. Be sure rainwater is diverted away from the building, and make any necessary repairs to pump-out ports. There should be no ponding water around the building after rainfall events.
Developing an emergency plan
Develop an emergency plan in the event field conditions do not allow for manure application when the pit is almost full. While options vary on location, below are several conditions to consider that might allow for you to partially pump down your pit:
1. A neighbor with a dairy lagoon that is not full and would accept hog manure.
2. A custom manure applicator with frac tanks or tankers for emergency storage.
3. An older swine facility that is currently empty.
4. A municipality sewage treatment plant that would take manure.
5. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District Office to discuss local options: http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/SWC/SearchLocalSWCD.aspx
6. Constructing emergency storage as a last resort (This has been done before and is cheaper than paying fines and having bad publicity), contact local SWCD or ODA-Division of Livestock Environmental Permitting.
For additional information on best manure strategies, please visit https://ohleap.org/