All it takes for the public view to change is one misconception. One agriculture sector where these misconceptions have occurred is in the swine industry. Any agriculture sector has its own public misunderstandings. However, the swine industry may have the most. From housing quarters, disease prevention, and waste removal, the media and other sources have blown these issues out of proportion by providing misinformation to the public. It is the responsibility of Animal Scientists and producers to combat these negative views with the facts.
Our group decided to explore the truth behind waste disposal methods in the swine industry. When researching articles about swine waste removal, we found many different articles recording false facts about the swine industry such as how the “s wine waste is poured into a pool to rot before being emptied into human water sources and sprayed onto crops for human consumption.” There is also a belief that harmful gases are being released from the large amounts of waste products. We believe that it is our job to educate the public how producers actually dispose of waste products.
According to the Journal of Animal Science in an article by Miner, the most common practice for disposing of waste is by using an anaerobic lagoon. Well-designed lagoons have three functions: first, they are a location for bacteria to decompose the organic waste, much like a household septic system. Secondly, a lagoon provides a convenient storage place for treated waste until it is appropriate to apply the material to cropland. Lastly, a lagoon allows there to be absolutely no runoff from the facility. An anaerobic lagoon allows for no waste materials to be taken off the farm. After the water is applied to the cropland, all chemicals are absorbed by the plants and converted into nutrients that can be used as food for livestock animals.
It is our job as animal scientists and producers to educate the public about our business. If we are able to use media as positive reinforcement of our industry rather than negative media sources, we can turn the media around to be beneficial to our industry rather than harm it.
Latham Brister, Jessica Cowley, Chelsea Feathers, Blaire Fleming, Ethan Sutherland, and Taylor Tate
- Miner, J.R., 1999. Alternatives to minimize the environmental impact of large swine production units. J. Anim. Sci. 77:440-444