The Iowa Manure Management Action Group (IMMAG) has assembled a variety of resources for producers interested in learning more about foaming manure pits.
IMMAG reports that the issue of foaming in deep-pit swine barns continues across Iowa and in other Midwestern states. Foaming is more noticeable as storage structures get full and the foam gets closer to the slats or oozes through the slats.
The foam can act as a barrier to the natural release of methane that is generated in the pits. When the foam is broken due to pig activity, power-washing, pumping and agitation or other reasons, the rapid release of methane can potentially cause an explosive situation. Several fires and explosions have been reported in the last two years. An additional concern is the foam can interfere with normal ventilation in the barn.
The exact cause for the foaming is not known, nor are there well-known practices or products available to reduce or eliminate the foam. IMMAG urges producers to be cautious when pumping and agitating any manure source, but particularly when agitating and pumping foaming pits.
Iowa State University released a safety video last September about practices that should be considered when pumping from foaming pits. A recently updated version is located at www.vimeo.com/. Producers who are experiencing foaming pits are asked to take a few minutes to complete a survey after watching the video.
Research on the issue of foaming manure pits is ongoing as some of the country's leading nutrition and engineering experts investigate possible causes and solutions. Additional information about foaming pits can be found on the IMMAG video page, including a 32-minute video with the University of Minnesota's David Schmidt, who reviews possible causes, ongoing research, and management tips to reduce risks. See the video.
Additional information can be found on a University of Minnesota web page. And, an article in the September 15, 2011 issue of National Hog Farmer focuses on whether distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) in swine diets are contributing to the foaming problem.
IMMAG reminds producers to remember that absolutely no one should enter a building when agitation and pumping are taking place. Barn owners should reinforce this restriction with all family members, employees and commercial manure applicators.