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Agriculture and Farming

Introduction

The farming and agriculture sector plays an irreplaceable role in our lives, reliably bringing an array of crops, fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products to our tables and businesses every day.  However, due to the processes involved, this industry is also confronted by regular toxic gas risks. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a particular concern, with toxic levels found on an array of farms, including in slurry pits and wastewater.

Alongside H2S, methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide emissions make the farming and agricultural sector, livestock farming in particular, a large contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Hazardous gases can be located within and emitted from silos, manure storages, anaerobic digesters, grain bins and improperly ventilated barns to name a few. All of these, if left unmonitored and undetected, can cause harm to humans, livestock and the environment in both the long and short term. 

As well as seeking to utilise less hazardous, alternative materials within farming and agricultural processes, it is down to those in the sector to implement reliable and robust monitoring and gas detection equipment to stay abreast of  the gas levels in each environment. Using this information, the control of said substances and gases is much more achievable.

Applications

Meat Production
Aquaculture
Soil Management
Harvesting
Horticulture
Slurry Pits

Gas Hazards in Agriculture and Farming

Hazards

Description

Methane

The colourless and odourless methane (CH4), is a combustible gas, and comes from the process of anaerobic digestion of organic material. Depending on the storage and management of manure, which undergoes anaerobic decomposition over long periods of time, the concentrations of the gases it produces vary. Poorly ventilated spaces and higher temperatures can increase the amount of methane emitted.  If there is a lack of airflow, such as in covered buildings and barns, methane levels can build up, get trapped and cause explosions. However if stored safely  it can be used as fuel for agricultural equipment and engines. 

Hydrogen Sulphide

Hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which can be found within a range of agricultural  processes related to producing and consuming biogas, is a risk because it prevents oxygen being carried to the body’s vital organs and tissues. The chemical asphyxiant, again comes from anaerobic decomposition of organic materials, like manure, and is well known for its rotten egg smell. However higher concentrations of the gas hinder the sense of smell rendering it undetectable by human senses and increasing the danger. 

Ammonia

Ammonia (NH3), is found in animal waste and can be spread and emitted further through slurry spreading on farming and agricultural land. It is characteristically a colourless gas with a pungent smell, and technically arises through the decomposition of nitrogen compounds in animal waste. It is harmful to human health as well as livestock wellbeing, as it has the capacity to cause respiratory diseases in livestock, and eye irritation, blindness, lung damage, alongside nose and throat damage and even death in humans. Poor ventilation heightens the damage caused by this gas. 

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is naturally produced in the atmosphere, however levels are dangerously increased through farming and agricultural processes. CO2, which is colourless and odourless, is emitted from agricultural equipment, crop and livestock production and other farming processes. CO2 can gather in certain areas, such as waste tanks and silos, causing the oxygen in the air to be displaced and increasing the risk of suffocation for animals and humans.  Sealed silos, waste and grain storage spaces are specifically dangerous as CO2 can accumulate here and lead to them being unsuitable for humans without an external air supply.

Nitrous Oxide

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), one of the highly reactive nitrous oxide group, can, at its worst, cause sudden death when consumed even from short term exposure. This gas causes suffocation, and is emitted from silos following specific chemical reactions of plant material. It is recognisable by its bleach-like smell and tends to create a red-brown haze. As it gathers above certain surfaces it can run into areas with livestock through silo chutes, and therefore poses a real danger to humans and animals in the vicinity. It can also affect lung function, cause internal bleeding, and ongoing respiratory problems. 

Products for Distilleries Industry

Portable Monitors
Gasman

A compact and fully ruggedised single gas detector for the toughest of industrial environments

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Clip SGD

Industrial single gas detector designed for use in hazardous areas

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T4

Portable 4-in-1 gas detector with new sensor technologies

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Gas-Pro

A multi gas detector offering 5 gas support as well as a dedicated pre-entry check mode and optional pump feature

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Fixed Monitors
Xgard

Fixed multi gas detector

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Xgard Bright

Addressable fixed head detector with OLED display

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Control Panels
Vortex

Our most flexible gas controller package

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Addressable Controllers

Local non-intrusive operation & display with simultaneous live reading display and alarm functions via colour LCD display.

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Agriculture and Farming Industry Standards and Certifications

In the UK, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health is a regulation relevant across all sectors in which those within are regularly exposed to a number of harmful chemicals. This is no more applicable than in the farming and agricultural sector, through which workers encounter detergents, disinfectants, pesticides, fertilisers including ammonium nitrate and veterinary medicines. COSHH provides guidance and compliance outlines for employers to protect employees from these hazards.

The UK’s Code of Good Agricultural Practice (COGAP) for Reducing Ammonia Emissions was created by DEFRA in collaboration with the farming sector. It details the steps that need to be taken to reduce ammonia emissions within the given timeframe; of 8% by 2020 and 16% by 2030. Steps to be taken include, the best way to store and apply organic manures, ways to apply manufactured fertiliser, and ways to amend livestock diet and housing. 

In the EU, the European Commission has launched a range of directives and schemes to govern safety within the farming sector in its member states. These include EU regulation 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs, and EU regulation 668/2014 on how EU regulation 1151/2012 on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs should be applied.

Industry Insights

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The new sensor detects ammonia levels from zero to 1000 parts per million (ppm) and, when used with a pump and sampling tube, can reach enclosed or hard-to-access spaces and detect ammonia gas leaks before they cause harm.

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Agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. Domestic cows emit an immense amount of methane through belching, and annually they expel a vast amount, about 60 percent of global methane emissions, or equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of a car burning 21,400 litres of petrol!

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