New to Livestock Farming? What You Need to Know About Explosion Risks

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New to Livestock Farming? What You Need to Know About Explosion Risks

28 November 2016
 Categories: , Articles

If you are new to livestock farming, you need to be aware of the risk of explosions. Here are a few things on a livestock farm that could cause explosions and what you can do to protect your farm, your livestock, your livelihood, and your life. 

Explosive Risks to Be Aware Of 

When it comes to risks of farming, few things can be quite as damaging as an explosion, especially one that takes place inside of a barn. The main areas of concern are: 

Manure. It is important for you to understand the biggest problem of manure is methane, which is produced when organic matter decomposes. Methane is colorless, odorless, and highly explosive. In fact, 1,500 pigs were killed when a methane explosion leveled a barn in Iowa. As manure decomposes, the methane that is released can easily become trapped inside the manure pile or in a tightly confined area without ventilation. When this gas mixes with oxygen in the air, it becomes combustible, as fire only needs three things to erupt: heat (energy created as organic matter breaks down), fuel (methane produced by the breaking down of organic matter), and oxygen (naturally occurring in the air). 

Hay. Another highly combustible material on your farm is hay, especially when it is stored tightly. Any moisture content in hay can cause the plant sugars to break down, and this changes the composition of the sugars to carbon dioxide and water. Since hay was a living plant before it was cut, it also contains active bacteria and may contain mold. Active bacteria and mold, as living things, produce energy which, in turn, produce heat. The longer these reactions occur inside a hay bale, the more likely it is that the temperature inside the bale can exceed 170 to 190°F and cause a fire to ignite. 

Diesel. If your diesel fuel tanks are not grounded or are faulty, they could produce static charges when you refuel your farm vehicles and equipment. Another thing that could produce static charges while refueling is if you were to walk around. Static charges can produce sparks that could cause diesel to explode. If you do need to walk around while refueling, touch the metal body of the truck to discharge any static that has built up before you touch any part of the fueling system again. 

Protection by Using Monitoring Systems

Due to the risks involved, it's a good idea to invest in monitoring systems that are designed to detect dangerous situations. Since you're just starting out as a livestock farmer, you may not have the monetary means to purchase an extravagant monitoring system. Fortunately, this is not necessary. There are optical gas-imaging systems that can detect gases, volatile organic compounds, heat, and other dangerous materials and situations that could result in a fire or an explosion. These systems are video cameras that use infrared lighting to detect what cannot be seen by the naked eye. 

It's a good idea to develop a routine of regular inspections so you'll be able to easily identify possible situations before they erupt. With optical gas-imaging systems, simply walk through your property while pointing the camera at areas of concern. The imaging system will allow you to view the areas at a safe distance. By knowing whether there are any trouble spots or areas of concern, you can mitigate the risks of a fire or an explosion by dissipating heat from the area and by providing ventilation to remove built up methane and other dangerous gases. 

You'll want to speak with a sales representative who will help you purchase a system that will meet your specific needs based on your type of farming operation.