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Slurry & Farm Safety - 7 Top Tips

Between October to January the spreading of organic manure, like slurry, is prohibited within Irish farms. This period of time the risk of nutrient leaching is at its highest with little or no plant growth. This closed period will also help protect water courses from pollution (Daera-NI, 2017).

Midnight of January 31st marks the end of this closed period and farmers are able to spread fertilisers and manure across their land. However, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) is reminding farmers of the dangers of slurry and the key safety tips to consider. So what is slurry and why is it one of the main causes of fatalities within the agriculture/farming industry?

Slurry in effect is animal manure that’s mixed with water, which acts as a great natural fertiliser for crops. Animal waste is collected over the winter period and stored in slurry tanks. Farmers will need to break down and mix the slurry in order to be used on their land. This mixing of slurry causes dangerous gases to be released quickly, including Hydrogen Sulphide, which at high concentrations will block your sense of smell, disorientation, affect the nervous system and kill you instantly as the gas replaces the air in the lungs (BBC, 2014).

Over recent years there were several cases of fatalities within farms due to slurry mixing, including the deaths of three members of the same family after they were all overcome by the slurry fumes – the worst farming tragedy in NI for 20 years (BBC, 2013). Along with the above, there were also some cases of farmers losing consciousness and falling into the slurry pit, where they drowned….Read More