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Is your manure equipment ready to go the distance?

Jeramy Sanford for Progressive Dairyman Published on 24 November 2017
Tanker manure truck

Driving 5 miles down the road may seem like a short trip, but when it comes to hauling manure, costs go up exponentially at the 5-mile mark and increase every additional mile.

Industry averages calculate 1 cent to 2 cents per gallon to haul manure with a tank, but labor, fuel, and equipment wear and tear costs can pile up quicker than expected.

With the right equipment and proper maintenance, you can implement an efficient long-distance hauling plan to keep costs down. Here are some tips for choosing the right equipment to get the most bang for your buck.

Equipment options

Choosing the right type of equipment will ensure an efficient and safe long-distance hauling operation. The best type of equipment for long-distance hauling is a semi tank. They’re the most economical to run and are specifically built for road use, meaning you can haul more in a shorter time.

However, most semi tractors aren’t designed to go into the field, as field compaction is a concern and additional licensing may be required.

Traditional manure tankers and truck-mount tanks are also viable options when hauling long distance. In the past, equipment limitations made it difficult to haul a large enough tank to make the process economical, but new upgrades and larger, more powerful tractors have made this a more feasible option.

When choosing the right equipment for your operation, consider the distance you need to travel, size of the job, field arrangements and available labor.

Size matters

One of the biggest considerations when choosing the right equipment is the number of gallons per load. While it can be a larger up-front investment for purchasing bigger equipment, the long-term savings can provide a higher return on your investment.

For example, a 1,500-cow dairy hauling 8 million gallons 5 miles down the road with a 9,500-gallon tank takes about 842 trips and 8,420 miles. In comparison, hauling the same amount with a 10,500-gallon tank would save you about 80 trips, 800 miles and 40 hours of labor.

When choosing a custom hauler, ensure they have equipment sizes available that will be most economical for your operation. Most custom haulers determine cost by a set amount per load, gallon or hour, so equipment size is key to reducing costs.

Equipment maintenance

More miles equal more wear and tear on your equipment. It’s important to make sure your equipment is well serviced and in good repair to help extend equipment life and reduce maintenance costs.

Inspect all equipment at the beginning and end of every hauling season. Check the tire pressure, steering system, safety lights and equipment, and bearings, and ensure everything is properly greased. It might seem simple, but don’t forget to review the user manual to make sure all settings are aligned with manufacturer recommendations and the equipment has been maintained according to manual specifications.

It’s also essential to keep a log of equipment use, gallons hauled, miles traveled and any maintenance performed. Tracking maintenance performed year-over-year will help evaluate whether the maintenance is normal wear and tear or an indication of a larger issue.

Alternative hauling methods

Draghose systems can be a cost-effective alternative to hauling with semis or tanker trucks, as manure is pumped directly from the farm to the field through underground pipes or hoses aboveground. This cuts down on fuel and labor costs for transportation, but you need to be vigilant to ensure the system is in good working order.

It must be inspected and maintained regularly and have safety measures in place to ensure you can reduce and prevent any issues.

On the flip side, draghose systems can be limited by terrain and field size. Hilly areas can cause pressure problems if your pumps aren’t strong enough, and it’s less economical to install draghose systems for smaller field sizes.

Make sure your manure equipment is ready to go the distance. Work with your local manure specialist to determine the right equipment for your operation.  end mark

PHOTO: Long-distance manure hauling can be expensive, but choosing the right equipment and implementing a proper maintenance program can provide a higher return on investment. Photo courtesy of GEA.

Jeramy Sanford
  • Jeramy Sanford

  • Nutrient and Separation Specialist
  • GEA
  • Email Jeramy Sanford

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