Agricultural Safety – Manure Handling and Spills

Although not a particularly nice subject to write about, manure is a big issue in farming and agricultural related work, and has potential to cause significant damage to both land and water.

Such damage can occur either through improper storage, improper usage or when manure is being transported either on a farm or on a public highway. These will be looked at in detail below.

When most people think of manure, they simply think of the smell of it, which generally is pretty unpleasant.

It is however widely used, often in conjunction with pesticides, to aid a number of processes in the following industry. It is important to understand the nature of how it is used, and its potential dangers if not handled properly

Manure can come in several forms, mainly solid, semisolid and liquid.

Manure handling

It is crucial to understand that the different types of manure require different handling techniques. Most commonly used what are known as front end loaders, or gravity flow storage facilities or units.

Sometimes what are known as gravity liquid manure tanks are used, but there is a significant risk to some type of spill in the environment. The other risk to any type of environmental spillage is what is known as a stuck manure pit valve.


This is perhaps the biggest area of potential risk. Transporting manure requires significant skill levels in different areas, requires a high degree of planning and oversight, normally by several people who are well experienced in this process.

It should be recognised that anyone driving any type of farm equipment potentially poses a significant risk to other users on the highway. This is in part by the nature of the equipment driven, and in part by any load that is being carried or pulled.

The college or carrying of manure add significantly to this risk, and as such must be carefully managed. Since manure can be available in different forms as mentioned above, solid, semi-liquid and liquid,it can often times proved very difficult to handle.

This is a significant responsibility for any farmer or owner of agricultural machinery, and many areas carry legal responsibilities and penalties regarding shifting load violations.

While any penalties may differ depending on the locality of the area, most regulations require the legal owner of the vehicles to transport all loads, including all types of manure, in such a way that does not pose any type of risk or potential damage to the environment or local area.

These regulations are sometimes left quite vague, in order to put the maximum pressure on the farmer or owner to make sure they are complied with.

They are also likely to include a provision that in the event of a spillage, the operator of the vehicle is legally bound to take immediate steps to try and control both the immediate damage, and any long-term damage that may occur.

Any type of spillage also normally carries a legal obligation to notify relevant authorities, either local or national, sometimes both, who may then take steps to oversee the incident itself, and make sure that is dealt with effectively.

If any spillage happens on a public highway, then it is crucial that the operative or owner notifies all relevant local police and fire officials immediately, in order to deal with any immediate hazards to other traffic all road users, and also to prevent any potential accident as a result of the spillage.


Manure regularly used on agricultural land and farm fields. How it is applied as a significant effect both in its effectiveness, and in terms of any potential damage it may cause.

The quality of the water used, and the level of nutrients applied should be major factors in consideration of how it should be applied to any land.

It is important not to use manure if the land of soil is frozen, or is likely to freeze at the same time that the manure is being applied.

This is because inevitably it will find its way into some type of water stream or locality, possibly causing damage or infection of such water.

This also inevitably applies to any land that is close to any screening or pond or well. Manure applied to this type of land can inevitably spread and cause serious damage.

The other issue to take account of is that manure contains certain nutrients that are needed to enhance the quality of land plants or vegetables that are being grown, normally nitrogen and phosphorus.

It needs to be recognised that whilst these can be of benefit to what is being grown, if used in excess it is very easy for them to pollute any underground stream or river that may be running under the land or adjacent to it.

As with many health and safety issues, it is important that the farm operates as a business in this area.

Key is having a written plan of what to do in the event of a spillage, either on a public highway on the land itself. Any operative should be trained in this manner in a formal sense of possible, and there should be continuous updates of this training throughout the year.

The recent plan to contain all relevant phone numbers as mentioned above, including those of local fire and police authorities or any other emergency response team members who may be needed to be contacted in the event of a potential spillage.

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