Thursday, January 22, 2015

Manure Agitation - What is a manure agitation boat?

A well-designed manure storage facility must also be well managed to prevent environmental concerns from developing. This includes things like making sure that structural components remain in good repair, keeping the landscaping around the facility mowed, clean, and cutting down trees and brush growing right next to the storage so that the storage can be easily inspected for concerns or connection failures. Although these things are important, the most important requirement is still making sure to get it emptied so that enough capacity is available to make it to the next land application window.

Achieving good agitation is an important part of this. Failure to properly agitate the manure will result in a continuous buildup of settled solids within the storage, resulting in less and less available storage as time goes by. Good agitation of the manure will re-suspend those settled solids and facilitate their removal from the storage ensuring we maintain that capacity we need. Additionally, agitation of the manure helps homogenize it and provide a more consistent nutrient content as it is applied. Below I’ve provided a conceptualization of what we typically think of as our solids profile in manure storage, what we think happens is we get an accumulation of course solids where the manure enters the storage and a sludge, of partially degraded organic matter,  over the whole storage. The way this develops can be impacted by the amount of water added to the manure, the type of bedding material used, the agitation history of the storage.

Many types of agitators are available for agitating slurry systems, including hydraulically or mechanically driven propellers or choppers, bypass devices on manure loading pumps, and manure agitation boats. Your choice of manure agitation equipment should be based on the level of agitation needed, the design and configuration of the slurry manure storage facility (where you can place agitators and how many), and the volume of manure to be agitated. Pictures of these different types of agitators are provided below. Of these, you are probably familiar with the first two, but agitation boats are relatively newer. The big difference being that our traditional agitators are constrained to somewhere near the edge of the storage, while boats can move throughout the storage potentially getting better agitation in areas we couldn’t reach before.


So, what is a manure agitation boat? It is basically a remote controlled floating pump system with a series of nozzles. This lets the user direct it throughout the manure storage, direct the fow of manure, and steer it around to better mix the manure. I recently had the chance to chat Jamie Tews about his agitation boat to get his perspective with an using agitation boats and what some of their benefits. To take a listen to this interview click the link below (you’ll go to our YouTube channel as the video was just too big).

Whats and Why's of Manure Agitation Boats

Hopefully in the future we’ll get a chance to talk in more detail about how these things work, what the might mean for our manure storage design and management, and some tips for operating them to maximize performance.

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