In It for the Long Haul

In It for the Long Haul

By: Terry O’Neel Originally posted on

As Earth Day approaches, the environment becomes a hotter-than-usual topic. But on my pig farm and others across the U.S., we’re thinking about how to care for our land, air and water every day — not just in April.

I blogged about environmental sustainability in the real world last summer, but there’s always more to say on a topic that means so much to me. A few of the ways we care for the earth (and reasons we were recognized as an Environmental Steward Award winner during the National Pork Industry Forum in 2008) include:

· Nutrient handling Pig farmers are the original recyclers. We take the manure from our pigs and use it as fertilizer for our crops. We carefully apply it to the soil at the recommend rates that balance the nitrogen and phosphorus.

· Light matters We use only LED or compact fluorescent lighting in our barns to reduce energy use.

· High tech odor removal We have a truly unique biofilter we’re extremely proud of. Fans take the exhaust air through a bed of wood chips, scrubbing and reducing the odor as it goes. Air quality is not only improved for the pigs, but for those who care for them, too.

· Reduce erosion while protecting water quality We do no-till farming on our 700 acres of row crops.

· Trees everywhere When we started at our farm site 25 years ago, we planted more than 1,000 trees. Today those trees provide a beautiful windbreak, shade and improved aesthetics on our farm.

Everything we do is with the long view in mind. It’s not about trying to get the most out of the land for a short period of time, but instead about looking down the road. What will be best for the soil, water and air for when our children, grandchildren and beyond inherit this land? That’s what we think about every day, not just on April 22.