Reducing Operator Error During Transportation
February 19, 2021
- [Kevin] Well, thank you very much Charles for allowing me to be a part of things today. It's kind of scary when you say that I've been doing this for decades, because I guess I have been, My parents ran a custom manure hauling business when I was a kid on a small beef operation in Illinois. I said I'm gonna get as far away from this S-H-I-T as I can, and I turned it into a career. But what we're going to be talking about today between Racheal and I is really looking at the root causes of manure spills. And primarily, the big issue that we've seen develop over the last five years within the industry is operator errors during manure transportation. So when we look, and three times now, I've brought in a college student, we've gone through the County soil and water district records, the regulatory agency records and anything else we can get our hands on really to look at why manure spills accident, runoff incidences occur, and then for our Wisconsin Applicator Education Program, we really tweak and target the education based on what we've seen. And so out of 15 years, what's really interesting to us is that pie chart you see there. The previous 10 years, land application, runoff problems in the field were really the primary driver of what was going on with over 40% of the instances there, and transportation, somewhere around 27 to 32%. However, when we look at the last five-year period, transportation-related problems make up 46% of our spills and incidences. And so we really need to be looking at what can we do, running the dragline, driving manure down the road to reduce those problems. So I've asked Racheal and she recorded a brief presentation here that kind of goes over all the data. Once that's done, I'll come back and talk specifically about some of the transportation-related things and things we need to keep in mind to prevent problems. So go ahead and roll the - - [Racheal] Kevin, I apologize. You're muted. And also I was under the understanding you were gonna run the video. - [Kevin] Then I can do that. Not a problem. - [Racheal] Thank you. - Yep, Charles had said otherwise so we will get her taken care of here. So back to desktop. Full screen. And I need to redo this to make sure that I feed the audio through properly. Yep. It is there. And so Charles, I'm going to keep an eye on you. If you don't hear the audio, come through, give me a thumbs up please. Or if you hear it, give me a thumbs up. - Hi, I am Racheal Osterhaus and I am a senior at UW Plattevile this year and I had the opportunity to work with Kevin this summer and this winter on this Manure Spills Project. We looked at five years worth of data. So 2015 through 2019. This data is still being gathered and analyzed. The data in this presentation was last entered on January 12th. As you can imagine, we had some limitations with COVID this year. Prevented me from getting into the DNR offices to see paper files and all of their electronic files. And also not all county files keep a good record or any kind of records of some spills. And then a lot of the records that we were able to get access to were not finalized data, and then I was not able to look at SWAMP, Law Enforcement and Fishery Databases. For this, I reviewed agency electronic records. The DNR granted access to BRRTS and spill databases, county files and nonpoint files that were shared with us directly. So to start off, this study has been done twice before in the last 15 years. And looking at this graph, you can see that the number of reported incidences have gone up, but we don't believe that the number of spills have actually increased that much, just the number of recordings. And then to note in here is the drop in 2012 was due to a drought and then the drop in 2015 was due to the lack of online records and the fact that I wasn't able to go see those paper records in person. When I went through the data, I classified them based on the location that they occurred, at the farm, in transportation or land applications. The descriptions of everything that was included in those are on the right, as you can see. In 2015 to 2019, the large majority of our spills were in transportations, while they had decreased from the large amount of farm spills in the study before. The decrease in the farm location spills was due to education about checking your manure storage facilities and such like that. We will be looking at the transportation spills more in depth later, but it's just interesting to see how much they have increased. These graphs are a way to look at the month that the spills happened and the type. You can see that during the winter when people aren't hauling or spreading, there are fewer spills that happen compared to the times when they can get into the field and spread. So when we are hauling and spreading, obviously that's when those transportation and land applications spills are going to happen, and most spills at the farm just kind of have like a gradual wave to them as the manure storage facilities are empty and filled. One thing we looked at was the size of the farm and the location where it happened. It makes sense that the permanent farms, which are the larger farms, would have more transportation spills as they are moving more manure than the non-permanent farms. Looking at those graphs, you can see though that the small farms have a lot more farm incidences and than the large farms. And these are both areas that could be focused on on maybe how do we educate people about checking those kind of things so that the number of these spills decrease. So diving a little deeper into the location of the spills, we can look at what's happening at the farm. The number of manure storage over-toppings and manure stack runoffs are the biggest problem in the last five years. These are all problems that could be prevented or at least decreased. Looking at the other categories that are there, they're just little smaller problems that have been fixed or caught and fixed along the way so that larger problems don't happen. The manure storage over-toppings and stack runoffs could be prevented by checking the storage facilities or the stacks regularly and checking the weather to make sure that rum, hmm, excuse me, rain does not have an effect on it. Looking at what's happening during transportation, there are a lot of things that also could be prevented. Equipment tipovers, operator errors, manure spilled on the roads could all be prevented by watching what you're doing and watching what's going on around you. The increase in dragline spill is concerning and makes us ask what is happening there and what needs to be changed? A note is that we'll be looking at the operator errors a little more in depth later on. We have a slide here about land application but due to COVID preventing me from being able to get into the offices and receive the paper files, I'm not going to spend too much time on this because we don't fully have all the data here. So the environmental impacts is of course what everyone is concerned about when spills happen. Looking at those overall, most of the spills do not have significant impacts to the environment, which is good. We have a category of, none, so no environmental impacts happened, and included in that is the spill happened near a water source but it didn't enter it, which is also good. One thing to note with this is if there was a ditch like filled with water and that water got contaminated by the spill, that was what we then considered surface water impacted. The rest of the impacts that happened usually are cleaned up pretty quickly so that they are decreased and there's less impact. So going back to the operator error during transportation that I said we'd be looking at, when I was going through the data, I found that a lot of the operator errors were valve openings. So looking at that, we were able to classify if it was stated in the report that the valve was opened and they said it was their fault. So just looking at that, it's about half and half, not quite half, but that the valve was open and that it was operator error. And then looking more at depth into that, we decided to look if they were near an intersection. The near an intersection will be within 1/10 of a mile when we mapped it out. Our thought with that was maybe that they were being bumped or opened when they are coming up to the stop. Maybe you accidentally grabbed the valve instead of the brake and cause manure to be spilled on the road. Again, it's almost half and half. That's just how the data worked out. But it's just something interesting that we saw in the data that we weren't exactly expecting to see. From this, we can also ask manure haulers, farmers, where is their valve on their equipment and if it needs to be changed or moved just so that you don't accidentally open it while you're going down the road or coming up to the stop. Moving on, we can look at when where, oh, excuse me, moving on, we can look at where a custom applicator was hired when the spill happened. The inability to see paper files has also made the unknowns of if a custom applicator was hired higher. This data also only includes incidences that occurred during transportation and land application as well because custom applicators are hardly ever involved in spills that happen at the farm. Custom haulers are responsible for moving about 2/3 of the manure moved, but they are only responsible for about 1/3 of the spills. Continuing on with that, custom applicators have more spills that happen during transportation because they are moving, which makes sense. Manure spills that did not have a custom hauler hired are more likely to happen between all three categories. The last thing that we have to look at is who reported the spill and the size of the farm. Permanent farms or large farms, the CAFO farms, have a lot more reporting protocol that they must follow. They are more likely to report their own spills to the DNR rather than the small farms. The small farms are more likely to have maybe a neighbor or unknown report their spill. From looking at that, we can maybe think about some education aspects that could go out to the small farms in order to enable them to start reporting their own spills and get it so that their name is on the spill. Kevin, you're muted as you're trying to talk. - Yeah, I muted myself so we didn't have the Darth Vader effect of me breathing in the background here. So let me go back to the PowerPoint presentation. So as Racheal said, she went through that data there, and a couple of things I want to point out from her presentation, she talked about spill impact and surface water. If the manure ended up in a road ditch and there was a half an inch of standing water but you were a mile from the nearest stream, we still classified that as impacting surface water. So the vast majority of manure spills did not have any environmental impact whatsoever. So looking and delving a little more deeply into some of the data that Racheal had here, we documented 51 equipment tipovers in the five-year period in Wisconsin. Looking at the root causes, it gets back to soft shoulders, getting off into that mud a little bit, the soft shoulder being pulled over, vehicle speed, and in some cases, that sloshing effect, not having baffles (indistinct) equipment, do play a role in that as well. And a lot of our equipment tipovers also occurred at intersections. And so making sure that your drivers are fully trained, making sure that you've got adequate braking capacity on those tractor-pulled spreaders and manure tankers is really critical, but operator error is by far and away a huge variable when it comes to equipment tipovers. Mechanical failure, we had 96 instances. Of that total dragline, we had 112, and obviously there was some overlap here. Looking at what the root causes there, coupling failure, whether that is a clamp that came off, or in the case like you see here, where the bolt has come out or was never actually put on properly. Taking a few extra seconds to check those couplings every time the system is pressurized, but not standing right next to the coupling when it is pressurized so you're not decapitated if it comes loose is really critical. We also know that we get some dragline holes just from vibration, pulling through culverts, catching on rocks. And so patrolling that dragline on a regular basis with a drone or with an ATV can help catch problems early. And for the tractor-pulled equipment, we have seen some hitch pin issues, the wrong size, not locked in place. As Chris talked about yesterday, not having that safety chain in place is critical as well. So Racheal mentioned that we see these valves opening at intersections on a regular basis. The question a lot of times is why is that happening near intersections? Well, really two things that we've found. One is that a lot of folks when they put their valves on, they also put the jake brake button in, and both of those sometimes were installed on the gear shift next to each other. And so we really encourage you to put those at different locations, have some type of lever or cover over the valve opening a switch. And we've had some folks talking already about tying a solenoid in so the valve cannot actually be opened if the truck is in gear. The other thing that we've found is that there's an exhaustion factor. The only time that you open the valve is when you're parked to unload in the dumpster, and after about 10 hours of driving, you pull up to the stop sign and you instinctively reach over and flick the switch to empty the truck. The other factor, and we saw this in that 2012 dip that Racheal had in her graph, I personally don't take vacation or time off around Good Friday holidays because I know there's going to be a major manure spill. It just happens. And what we're finding, and I'm working with the National Weather Service to get their forecasting data, is, and we saw this in 2012, six weeks of beautiful weather in the spring, guys can put in those 10, 12 or more hour days and they're okay, but once we see rain in the forecast, or we got to get it done to get the corn planted, people start taking mental shortcuts. We got that "get 'er done" attitude that we have in agriculture. And that's really a management philosophy on down, telling your employees, your family members, safety is more important than speed. So to conclude here, you need to be thinking about, as part of your EMS plan, as part of your daily safety operations, what's your strategy to prevent a spill? And the key thing here is we don't want you to become the lead story on the evening news with getting manure into a stream or killing fish. With that, I will wrap up and see if anybody has any questions. - All right. Kevin, there's no questions in the chat box here. Let's give folks just a minute here before we go to our breakout sessions here to type in a question. - And this is always a fun project to do, Charles. One of the things we saw in the previous studies was we expected to see manure pit over-toppings in March and April, we did not expect to see a huge peak in August. And it turns out that in summer guys get busy and ladies, they don't go out and check the level of manure in the storage, and that's when our over-toppings were occurring was August. And so as part of our educational strategy, we said, you know, go out once a week and check the level of manure in the pit, and that really has prevented a lot of over-toppings, That little extra step of walking behind the barn once a week. - Yep, and it makes absolute sense. Well, thank you Kevin. - Well, we do have a question in here. - There we go, yup. - So has there been work on hauling equipment technology to prevent some of the accidental discharges not related to road conditions? There have been a number of applicators that have looked and are playing with things, like I said, sort of that solenoid idea to prevent an accidental valve opening. I know that there are some folks that are retrofitting baffles in tankers to make sure that we don't have that sloshing. But in terms of other technology, I'm not aware of any at this point, but always open to that, Laura.