Custom applicators know they must protect farms, but it’s not always easy
Manure applicators want to ensure they don’t spread porcine epidemic diarrhea from farm to farm, but farmers need to help them minimize their risks.
It’s especially important because applicators are working within a short window of time that is made more difficult by extra biosecurity steps, says John Carney, executive director of the Manitoba Livestock Manure Management Initiative.
“They’re caught in the middle.”
He told the Prairie Livestock Expo in Winnipeg in early December that applicators and farmers need to reduce their risks as much as possible when applying manure because PED spreads by fecal matter and can move in manure from barn to field.
- Having a known “line of separation” around hog facilities.
- Having known and easy communication lines between applicator and farmer.
- Limiting joint use of roads by manure trucks and vehicles that service the farm and pigs.
- Bringing as little equipment as necessary onto the farm.
- Cleaning and disinfecting as much as possible.
Carney said he has surveyed dozens of manure applicators and discovered that most have added equipment and are taking extra steps to ensure they don’t transmit PED.
However, farmers could do much to help them cut the risks further.
They need to make sure applicators know how to immediately contact them if something happens. Make sure the applicator knows the farmer’s or manager’s mobile phone numbers as well as office numbers.
Ensure the applicator knows where the line of separation around the farm’s production facilities lies. Sometimes the farmer himself hasn’t worked that out. However, it is essential to have a line across which manure trucks are not allowed to cross as a way to keep PED away from a farmer’s home and production barns.
Carney said the most important thing farmers can do is establish specific manure lagoon access roads that other farm vehicles and vehicles visiting the farm will not use.
“(Applicators) really want to be able to drive from the road to your lagoon without having to go on your main driveway,” he said.
“If you can find a way to make the necessary investments so that they can drive from the road to your lagoon and not go on that line of separation at anywhere near your house or your farm, I think that makes sense.”
A simple row of pylons and safety tape can make the line of separation obvious to the applicator.
Carney said cleaning equipment is important for the applicator, but that often means he has to bring water and a way to heat it to the field so that he doesn’t have to drive to the hog barn to fill up with water. It adds time and complexity to the job.
Farmers can help by supplying some of the equipment themselves, such as pumps, couplings and hosing to be connected to the lagoon. That way, the applicator doesn’t have to bring that equipment close to the barn.
Manitoba has been lucky with only a handful of PED infections, even though the disease is raging in the U.S. It is likely a result of “good fortune coupled with good management.”
However, Carney said steps to control the possible transmission of PED from manure spreading are an important way to keep that luck going.
Applicators have to do their work quickly, between harvest and freeze-up, so anything that makes their life easier and less complicated is likely to boost a farm’s biosecurity, he said.