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Posted Tuesday, January 26, 2010, at 10:31 AM

Half-life is the period of time it takes for a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half.

One of the things I like about where we live is the local electric utility provides us with a periodical called the "Rural Electric Nebraskan". This magazine offers some general interest stories as well as information about energy conservation and energy related topics. One of the featured articles in this months edition caught my eye...

"Ventilate and take safety precautions to prevent manure pit explosions".

What makes the above headline interesting to me is where we live. Long time readers recall that our farm(stead) was a former hog operation, so I'm thinking manure was a way of life around here in days gone by. Since we don't have a good handle on just how much of the brown stuff is really around the farm(stead), the above headline seems as if it might actually be important to my health to learn more about it's dangers.

My farming neighbor a while back after spreading out an old pile of the stuff for us mentioned that nothing would grow there for a while as the ground was "too hot" from nitrogen and the like from the hogs long ago leftovers. It appears he is correct as where the bottom of the old pile was is still bare ground after 2 growing seasons.

Now had I read the above headline a couple years ago, I might have questioned my neighbor about moving the pile and the possibility of an explosion, but I hadn't, and it didn't... explode that is. Probably has something to do with that half-life thing mentioned above.

OK, so I'm pretty sure there really isn't a problem around our farm(stead), and the danger of a methane explosion around here is about nill. There are still piles of crap around our place that I hope to get leveled out sometime in the future, so in the back of my mind I'll always wonder what the half-life of manure is.

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The City Slickers
Brian Hoag
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