Study's alternatives to treating hog waste costlier

NORTH CAROLINA - A five-year study to find more environmentally friendly ways to treat hog waste in the nation's second-largest swine producing state turned up several options but none that farmers appear ready to pay for.

"The jury's still out on how much these technologies will actually cost once they are on the farms," said Dan Whittle, senior attorney with the Raleigh office of the group Environmental Defense.

"We know the alternatives are out there, but the costs appear out of reach." The nearly 10 million swine on N.C. hog farms have created an environmental hazard, producing enormous amounts of manure and urine that are flushed from barns into open-air waste ponds and later sprayed on fields as fertilizer.

The lagoons have polluted waterways when they flooded and angered neighbors concerned about their health, but they are an easy, relatively inexpensive way to deal with the animals' waste.

The report recommends five alternatives that would reduce ammonia and pathogen emissions, but they could cost up to five times as much as the lagoon and spray-field method. One technology would deal with liquid waste while the other four center on disposing of solid waste.

Two of those proposals would burn the solid waste and then use the gases produced to make ethanol for fuel.

Pork producers Smithfield Foods Inc. and Kansas City, Mo.-based Premium Standard Farms Inc. paid $17.3 million for the research under a 2000 deal with the state Attorney General's Office.

Source: The Sun News
calendar icon 9 March 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
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