To the Editor:
F.O.U.L. was formed in the late months of 2003 after residents living near the 50,000 head Industrial Hog barn operations South of Girouxville decided they had to do something about the poor air quality in the area which was affecting their health and quality of life.
The primary focus of the Society continues to be associated with evolving environmental issues which can affect family farms and agricultural communities.
Promoting sustainable development through education of our membership and the general public on best management practices or alternatives to proposed development activities which would minimize the impacts on the community and the environment now and for future generations.
“Liquid Hog Manure” – what landowners need to know
Research has shown that the value of liquid hog manure may be overstated by Confined Feeding Operators who are looking for land to apply liquid manure.
Liquid hog manure nutrient content is very inconsistent. Research projects have concluded that unlike commercial fertilizer it is challenging to apply liquid hog manure at a consistent nutrient rate. The nutrient levels change as the manure is pumped out of the storage lagoons and onto the land.
Let’s look at this from a common sense perspective by asking a simple question. If liquid hog manure is such a good fertilizer why is land application typically not much further than six kilometers from the barns? Commercial fertilizer is transported across the province by truck so why can’t they haul liquid manure the same way? The answer is simple the nutrient value of hog manure is nothing like the value of commercial fertilizer and it’s not worth hauling it more than six kilometers from the barns. If the manure is valuable then why have they been giving it away?
Another factor to consider is the crop that will be grown. If we know that liquid manure nutrient levels are inconsistent then how will that affect your crop? Farmers who have tried growing wheat, canola, barley, oats, have had to deal with uneven maturity, lodging, weeds, and poor grades at harvest time. The only crops that do reasonably well with high applications of liquid hog manure are crops such as corn which are grown for silage.
Another aspect of liquid manure application that some farmers may not be aware of is the fact that liability issues that may arise from liquid manure application are the responsibility of the landowner.
Last but not least, farmers who sign agreements to allow liquid manure on their land should also consider the message that they are sending to the hog barn operations in the area. Under the NRCB permitting process land application acres must be secured for an application to be considered.
Signing an agreement may in the long term lead to more hog barn development in an area where there are already too many hog barns.
F.O.U.L. is not against pork production in general. We support sustainable agricultural practices that minimize impacts on the environment and neighboring land owners. We encourage farmers in the area to do their own research before signing any liquid manure application agreement on their land so that they can better understand what they are getting into.
The executive members of F.O.U.L. are Denis Sauvageau, Lucienne Pitre, Sylvianne Tardif, Gerry Noel, Leo Lemire, Norm Laverdiere, Claire Anctil and Michelle Pitre.
For residents who have concerns regarding a Confined Feeding Operation, they can call the Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) complaint line at 1-866-383-6722. For any other environmental concerns they can call the toll-free 24 hours a day, the Alberta Environment Hotline at 1-800-222-6514.