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Mike Brosnan 09005344 PD + T

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Mike Brosnan 09005344 PD + T. Research Presentation. Problem Statement. I want to improve the safety around slurry pits in order to make a safer environment for farmers to work in by preventing injury and fatality. Slurry Pit Safety.

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Mike Brosnan


PD + T

Research Presentation


Problem Statement

I want to improve the safety around slurry pits in order to make a safer environment for farmers to work in by preventing injury and fatality.


Slurry Pit Safety

Slurry Pits caused 14% of farm deaths between 2000 - 2009

21 People have drowned in slurry in the past 10 years

In 2000 – 2010 30% of child fatalities on farms was caused by drowning in slurry or water

  • 4 Gases:
  • Hydrogen Sulphide
  • Methane
  • Ammonia
  • Carbon Dioxide

Drowning and Asphyxiation are the 2 most common causes

Farming has the highest work place fatality rate in both Ireland and UK

Agitation is when risk is highest

One breath of gas can kill


Current Solutions

Slurry Aeration Systems

Slurry Aeration Systems 2

Slurry Wizard

Manhole Covers

Standard Gas Masks

Guard Rails / Fencing


Leading Products

Slurry Wizard

Slurry Aeration Systems

  • €15,000 - €20,000 Approx to install depending on size of tank
  • Run by air compressor
  • Air blown through pipes
  • Causes slurry to bubble and crust to disintegrate
  • No need for further agitation
  • Can be set on timer
  • €160 p/kg
  • Comes as Powder
  • Manually added by farmer
  • Helps stop crust forming
  • Adds nutrients

Research Methods

  • National Ploughing Championships
  • Site Visit / Observation
  • Surveys
  • Online Forums
  • Browsing the internet

National Ploughing Championships

  • Companies:
  • Carlow Concrete Tanks
  • HSA
  • IFA
  • FarmWear
  • Naturalbiotics
  • Teagasc
  • ICE Comfort Slat Mats
  • Dairy Power Equipment
  • Main Findings:
  • Found current solutions to Slurry Pit safety
  • FarmWear have no safety equipment directly related to slurry operation
  • Naturalbiotics sell a formula called Slurry Wizard as mentioned previously
  • HSA gave me facts and figures on injuries and fatalities
  • Carlow Concrete Tanks manufacture slurry tanks in a range of sizes
  • Dairy Power manufacture the slurry Aeration systems mentioned previously
  • Teagasc told me about the safety measures they ask farmers to perform but did not know of many products on the market

Site Visit / Observation

Videos and more photos available on blog!


Site Visit / Observation

  • Findings:
  • Guard Rails had to be taken down completely for agitation
  • Tractor had to back in at different angles to get uniform agitation
  • Tractor had to reverse right to the very edge of the tank
  • Guarding was put back up for spreading
  • Guarding consisted of old gates and fencing
  • Pit was 8ft deep
  • The pit was both slatted and externally open
  • Agitation was very uneven
  • Slurry consisted of a lot of rain water from previous flooding
  • Scrapers inside the shed pushed waste out under the wall and into the pit
  • Operator had to stand very close to the edge in order to operate the spreader
  • There was a strong odour coming from the slurry even though it consisted of a lot of rainwater
  • Slight crust formed again only a short period after initial agitation


I created an online survey on which I sent out to people using Facebook and email. I also printed the same survey and handed it out to farmers I know.

What Kind of Slurry Pit is on your farm?

When was your slurry pit installed?

What depth is your slurry pit?

How often do you agitate?

Do you agitate from an internal or external point?

Have you installed any self agitating devices?

What do you think are the biggest safety risks with slurry?

What safety measures are in place with your slurry pit?

Do you know anyone that has been affected by a slurry pit incident?

Have you ever had to enter a tank to clean or inspect for cracks?


Online Forums

As part of my research I decided to post in a number of farming forums to get an insight into what farmers were thinking about slurry pit safety

  • Important questions asked:
  • What are the biggest problems in Irish farming
  • What are the most hazardous areas in farming
  • Identify the main problems around slurry pits
  • Suggest some improvements
  • Describe your slurry pit set up
  • Responses:
  • Hay and feed falling into tank through slats
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Alarm systems would be beneficial
  • Upgrading covers is a hassle
  • Slat covers that are on sale aren’t up to scratch
  • Operating under time constrictions
  • Very hard to agitate evenly throughout the tank

Research Findings

  • Drowning and Asphyxiation are the 2 main causes of fatality around slurry pits.
  • The build up of gas is mainly due to the formation of a crust at the top of the slurry after a period of time.
  • Hydrogen Sulphide is the most lethal of the gases. It is poisonous.
  • Gases are at there most dangerous within 1 hour of agitation.
  • Tractors have to be very close to the unguarded pit in order to agitate/spread properly.
  • Proper guard railing is not in place around a lot of slurry pits.
  • Gas masks are rarely, if ever, used by farmers.
  • The proportion of farmers with slatted or external tanks is divided relatively evenly.
  • Very few farmers have any self agitating systems in place