Booms a boon for pig slurry
Desperate to discover an
economical way of spreading
pig slurry which did not cause
offence to his neighbours,
this farmer designed and
built his own boom system.
Andy Collings reports
DISPOSING of the slurry produced by 3500 pigs in a meaningful, environmentally acceptable manner has been a challenge for Northants farmer Ken Bowe.
Mr Bowes pig enterprise at Low Farm, Bozeat, specialises in the rearing of maiden gilts with the resulting slurry available for his 164ha (410 acres) of arable production.
Slurry is stored in a 270,000 gal tank which needs to be emptied three times a year if the volume of slurry produced is to be contained.
"Finding a spreading system which can handle this volume and not cause offensive smells to the neighbourhood has been a problem," says Mr Bowe. "In the past, we have used a contractor operated umbilical system, which was a quick way of emptying the tank but it still caused problems."
Mr Bowe adds that contractors do not always pick the best day in terms of weather or ground conditions and the result, on occasions can be an untidy job all round.
With the decision made to keep the task in-house where there could be better control, Mr Bowe invested in a Bunning 2500gal capacity tanker spreader, built to his specification.
"We had the tanker equipped with gate valves on each corner so it could be filled easily and we insisted on oversized tyres being fitted," he says. "We also had the company extend the chassis so a hydraulic linkage could be fitted." Other requirements included a sprung drawbar, wide angle pto and a full-length sight gauge.
"The tanker, with its single rear splash-plate worked very well. But there was still the problem of smell and accurate application, particularly on windy days," he says. "My thoughts turned to a boom spreading system attached to the tanker."
Inquiries in this department soon revealed that the cost of an off-the-shelf 12m-boom system would have been prohibitive. The answer was to build one.
Mr Bowe called on the construction skills of his son Matthew and is keen to give him due credit for what he has achieved.
Matthew spent a couple of weeks in the workshop putting it together. Built in two sections, so they can be folded along side the tank for transport, slurry passes through the main pipework, before being directed down eight distribution pipes. At the end of these distribution pipes slurry exits through rubber nozzles onto splash plates.
The boom is connected to the tankers chassis and employs a two-ram hydraulic linkage to raise and lower the boom. Hydraulic rams are also employed to rotate the boom and its distribution pipes into a vertical position for transport.
"The first time we used it there was too much pressure in the tank and the slurry was being thrown too hard against the splash plates," says Mr Bowe. "We have turned the pressure relief valve down to as low a pressure as possible but it is still a bit on the high side."
Success with the boom system, which has a low level/low pressure/low splash delivery, now means accurate application rates can be achieved.
"We aim to apply 2500gal/acre in early spring to our wheat crops which provide about 25 units of nitrogen," he says. "We spray at 24m, so 12m slurry spreading is made very easy."
Mr Bowe also likes to apply reduced volume of slurry to his oilseed rape in December which, he claims, helps to keep pigeons off the crop. Land destined for oilseed rape also receives a slurry dressing prior to drilling to maintain P and K levels.
"I really believe the boom system is the answer to our slurry spreading problems," says Mr Bowe. "Drift, and smell, is virtually eliminated, application rates are more accurate, both in volume and area, and it is a system which has not cost an exorbitant amount." *