Manure Foam Can Lead to Explosions - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Manure Foam Can Lead to Explosions

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by Phil Prazan

pprazan@myabc5.com

@PhilPrazan

A mysterious problem is popping up at farms across the state.  Some outside the farm industry could see this as a gross problem, but it's so much of a concern that the Iowa Pork Producers Association gave a million dollars to universities in order to get to the bottom of it.
 
Hog confinement barns hold thousands of pigs and hogs across the state, collecting a lot of waste coming out the back end.

That manure gets collected underneath in manure pits.

Farmers then spread that over their corn crop to make that famous Iowa corn.  But there's a problem.

Something in the poop creates a layer of foam that can get several feet thick. Foam fills up the pit faster, not allowing it to fill all the way up. Every once in awhile, if there is an ignition source, the pit and all that methane gas can spark flames and even explode.

So the Iowa Pork Producers Association gave a million dollars to Iowa State and other universities, funding a research project trying to get to the bottom of this mess.
 
"Not in every pit, not every site, some have experience a lot, some have experience none.  So that's what's making it hard to discover what the problem is," says Mark Meirick, from Decorah.

Farmers say this problem has just come up in the past five years.

Early explanations say it's from the diet or size of the grain.  But nobody really knows for sure, yet.

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