Double Trouble

HERD ABOUT IT?

by Ana Grarian

In reading about hog CAFO’s in North Carolina I came across some interesting information. 80-90% of the corn and soy fed to livestock in North Carolina is shipped in from the midwest. So what – you say?

On a traditional farm corn, soybeans and other feedcrops would be grown on the farm’s land. These crops would neccesarily pull Nitrogen, Phosphorous and other nutrients out of the soil. The crops would be fed to the livestock and the manure would be applied back to the soil, replacing some of those nutrients.

In today’s agri-industries the two processes are removed from each other.

In the midwest (as elsewhere) chemical fertilizers are sprayed onto the ground to provide nutrients for growing crops. Excess or improperly applied chemicals then leach into ground water or streams and rivers. CAFO’s in North Carolina and other areas, feed the grain to the livestock and then spread manure, too heavily, on fields that are not capable of absorbing the nutrients, once again causing run off and pollution of ground water and streams.

So we are polluting two different areas with excess Nitrogen and Phosphorus, one with chemical fertilizers, and the other with livestock manure. That’s like having your cake and eating it too – but it doesn’t taste as good.

Liquid Manure being spread on a farm field