From time immemorial humans have taken their sustenance from the earth. Beginning with hunter-gathering and continuing with agriculture, people depend on the earth's bounty to feed and clothe them.
As the world population grew--and continues to grow--the land in which crops grow, and on which livestock is raised, revealed that its capacity is not infinite. Modern farming methods like chemical-based pesticides and herbicides take an environmental toll on the soil and groundwater. So too does synthetic fertilizer.
Recognizing this, Smithfield Foods resolved to make an investment in bio-based, organic fertilizers. In so doing, the company aims to lessen ecological stress.
For decades, perhaps centuries, farmers were vexed by the problems of excess manure. Of course, it serves as a productive nutrient for soil in and of itself.
Yet commercial growers get more of it than they can use: by some estimates, 335 million tons are generated annually. If piled high into mounds, it becomes a hotbed of e coli, algae blooms, salmonella and putrid stench.
State agriculture regulators now require livestock farmers to submit management plans, detailing exactly how they intend to utilize, store and dispatch the surplus animal waste. As noted above, some are applied to cropland.
Some are sold to nurseries and garden centers. At other times, the growers have to pay somebody to haul it away. This, of course, is a financial loss that cuts into profits. The good news is that science presents a more attractive option, using tools already available.
Hog manure, for example, is managed by mixing it with water and storing it in man-made lagoons. Known as slurry, this mixture is easier to pump and transport than raw dung by itself.
Slurry is then pumped from the lagoon and sent to a treatment facility. Solids are filtered out from the slurry as the effluent is drained from the lagoon. The solid material is often subsequently composted or shipped off the farm.
In cooperation with Anuvia Plant Nutrients, Smithfield Foods aims to employ this residual waste, synthesizing a fertilizer higher in essential nutrients than manure alone.
In so doing, they make less plant food necessary per acre, at once enriching the soil while reducing its stress. When all is said and done, a farmer's carbon footprint is substantially reduced. This is Anuvia's mission, and it is now the mission of Smithfield Foods.
As technology allows for efficient anaerobic digestion and maximum use of manure components, the term "animal waste" might become a misnomer. Methane gets harnessed as energy and bio-solids enrich fertilizer. In this way, the livestock that feeds from the land gives back to the land.
With a more robust and vibrant soil profile, farms can then do what they do a more secure and sustainable basis. Farmers reap a bountiful harvest; the earth retains more of its life-giving nutrition; and the surrounding lands and water survive without contamination.
Hello, I’m Laura Bennett. I love nature especially when it comes to flowers and different kinds of plants. I started a very small garden behind my house and I named it Humid Garden. So, I created this blog to provide aspiring and inspiring thoughts about gardening for gardeners and anyone who has the intention of keeping a garden.
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