Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, July 04, 1998, Image 132

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Tom Parsons, V.M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of
Swine Production Medicine
Kimberly Klesse
Summer Fellow in
Nutrient Management
New Bolton Center
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
As the American swine industry
enters the 21st century, the major
challenge it faces is the environ
ment Heightened environmental
awareness by producers, neigh
bors, and consumers alike de
mands that pork production pro
ceed in harmony with preservation
of the land, water, and air. Mora
toriums on the construction of
new swine operations are being
put in place by state governments
across the country in the name of
environmental concern. However,
in some cases, these controversial
policy decisions are fueled in part
by public fears about many other
aspects of large-scale swine pro
duction, such as absentee owner
ship and potential odor-problems.
A similar moratorium on the
construction of large farms or so
called concentrated animal feed
ing operations (CAFOs) has re
sulted from recent actions by the
More Than 170 Riders In
Handicapped Riders Event
MALVERN (Chester Co.)
The 19th annual Handicapped
Riders Event of the Devon Horse
show took place on Saturday, May
23 here at the Thomcroft Equestri
an Center.
More than 170 riders altered
the show, and competed in more
than 60 different classes.
Riders of all ages and disabili
ties, mental and physical, com
peted in trail, equitation, jumping,
and dressage classes, and a com
bined driving event (cones, dres
sage, and cross country mara
thon). The show, sponsored by
Brushwood Stables in Malvern, is
put on by the joint efforts of
Thomcroft Equestrian Center and
The Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital.
On Sunday. May 24, the divi
sion champions from the Saturday
classes met at the Devon Horse
Show Grounds in the Dixon Oval
to compete in the grand cham
pionship class. Barbara Rosoff of
Phoenixville and Babsie Clark of
Kirkwood, judged in the class.
Riders were asked to ride as a
group and perform individual
Grand champion was a warded
Where's your mustache? “
School of Veterinary Medicine
Pennsylvania State Department of
Environmental Protection (DEP).
A federal mandate on water qual
ity has called for revision of state
CATO permitting requirements.
Despite the fact that existing
Pennsylvania laws are some of the
country’s most progressive and
stringent concerning farm nutrient
management, DEP has suspended
final decisions on all CAPO per
mit applications until changes in
the permitting process are final
ized. This defacto moratorium on
construction of new swine facili
ties effectively halts further ex
pansion of the Pennsylvania swine
Potential problems with water
quality created by growth in the
local swine industry have long
been recognized. Much of our
Pennsylvania swine industry is lo
cated within the Susquehanna
River Basin watershed, one of the
major tributaries of the Chesa
peake Bay. Deteriorating water
quality in the Bay has changed
both fish and plant life there.
These changes have focused the
attention of concerned commer
cial fishermen, recreational users,
and ecologists on agriculture’s
contribution to non-point source
pollution in the Bay. Thus, the en
vironmental impact of the Penn
sylvania swine industry has come
under great scrutiny.
Production of pork by the next
generation of Pennsylvania swine
farmers will require environment
ally sound management practices.
Paramount to continued swine
production in this state is both the
opportunity for the industry to ex-
to John Greenwood of Grantville.
Erica Freed, also of Grantwood,
was reserve. John was presented
the Hop; Montgomery Scott Per
petual Trophy. Scott was a long
time supporter of riding for the
handicapped. She won the trophy
herself at the Bryn Mawr Horse
Show in 1930, and in 1993 do
nated it to The Handicapped Rid
ers Event of the Devon Horse
One of the many additional tro
phies awarded was the Brushwood
(for best handicapped rider), won
by Bernadette McMullen of Spe
cial Equestrians in Pineville and
donated by Mrs. J. Maxwell Mor
an of Brushwood Stables in Mal
vern. Moran has been a generous
supporter of the show and a tire
less volunteer the day of the event
Also participating at Devon
were the Thomcoift Mainstream
ers. The group is an eight-horse,
nine-rider team consisting of
handicapped and non-handicap
ped riders ages 8-20. These am
bassadors to Thomcroft have tra
velled to New York, Virginia, and
Harrisburg to present their drill.
JVews xJVew Jgolton
pand and the development of cost
effective solutions to nutrient
management problems. With re
gard to the latter point, we recent
ly concluded a survey of manage
ment practices by Pennsylvania
swine farmers'. The goal of our
study was to identify opportunities
for novel and innovative, yet cost
effective, solutions to swine nutri
ent management We have docu
mented striking differences be
tween swine operation in their
ability to capitalize on nutrient
management advances. Perhaps to
the surprise of some, of the farms
surveyed, we have found that the
large ones can be twice as likely as
the small to implement environ
mentally superior nutrient man
agement programs. These results
suggest that the small farm, not
the large farm, could be the more
■immediate threat to the environ
ment in Pennsylvania These find
ings are described in detail below.
Nutrients flow through a farm
or production system as part of a
cycle. Feed becomes meat and
manure, manure is applied to
crops, and crops become feed. A
ration poorly matched to a pig’s
growth requirements will result in
excess nutrients in the manure as
they pass unused through the ani
mal. When such manure is applied
over and above the needs of a
crop, excess nutrients remain in
the soil. Such excess nutrients are
Table I - Demographics of study herds
No of herds
Total no of animals 10,501 12,225 56,223
Mean no of animals/herd 138 1,358 551
Median no of animals/herd 95 1,336 375
Table II - Nutrient management survey questions
A - Do you test your manure for its nutrient value of nitrogen?
B - Do you test your manure for its nutrient value of phosphorus 9
C - Do you keep records of manure application before planting corn
or small grains 9
D - Is your manure applied with a calibrated spreader 9
E - Do you refrain from spreading manure in winter time 9
F - Is your manure application handled by a contract manure applicator 9
G - Do you practice split-sex feeding 9
H - Do you practice phase feeding (use 4 or more rations in either
nursery or grow/finish) 9
Table 111 - Affirmative answers to
nutrient management survey questions
Units Floors
Small Large Small
Large Small
67% 24%
67% 22%
67% 27%
89% 46%
89% 46%
67% 50%
at risk of being lost from the cycle
to the environment. Leaching or
runoff of these excess nutrients re
sult in pollution of the environ
ment Thus, we questioned swine
producers about manure handling,
as well as cropping and animal nu
trition practices.
Study farms were categorized
by operation type (sow unit or fin
ish floor), then stratified by size.
Farms with >6OO sows or >2OOO
head of grow-flnish pigs were
considered large. Demographics
of study herds are shown in Table
I. Producer responses to the 8
questions listed in Table II are
summarized in Table 111.
The major finding of our survey
was that large swine units are on
average VA to 2 times more likely
to implement environmentally
sound nutrient management prac
tices. Large swine ‘operations
more often used progressive nutri
tional practices such as split sex
feeding or phase feeding that re
duce or limit nutrient load in the
manure. Large swine units are also
more aware of their manure nutri
ent content and more capable of
effectively utilizing this informa
tion (e.g. keep records of manure
application and apply manure with
a calibrated spreader).
Why is a larg swine unit more
likely to have implemented en
vironmentally-sound management
practices? The larger size unit
may be able to capture benefits as
sociated with economies of scale
in nutrient management For in
stance, large operations can afford
to mix and feed a larger number of
diets, or use contract manure
handlers that provide better access
to technologies for progressive
manure management practices.
The large swine unit is also more
likely to exceed the two-animal
unit/acre criterion. Thus, there are
environmental benefits from the
increased scrutiny of these large
producers by existing state nutri
ent management regulations.
The results of this study suggest
that big is not necessarily bad for
the environment when it comes to
swine nutrient management.
Large swine units can be more
likely than small farms to utilize
progressive, environmentally con
scious nutrient management prac
tices. In theory, the possibility of
catastrophic failure of manure
storage facilities on such large or
concentrated animal farm opera
tions provides a great potential
risk to the environment However,
existing regulations require that
these facilities have adequate con
struction, monitoring and safety
systems to prevent such an un
qualified environmental disaster.
A corollary of our work, perhaps
contrary to popular belief, is that
small swine producers could rep
resent a more immediate threat to
the environment. In the future,
smaller producers must become
more pro-active with regard to en
vironmental concerns and imple
ment more progressive nutrient
management practices.
To facilitate the goal of
increased environmental aware
ness among all Pennsylvania
swine farmers, we are conducting
an environmental educational pro
gram in collaboration with the Na
tional Pork Producers Council and
the Pennsylvania State Coopera
tive Extension Service. If you are
interested in participating in the
Environmental Assurance'Pro
gram which aims to promote an
active understanding of issues
such as manure management, odor
control and neighbor relations,
call either Kimberly Klesse
(610-444-5800 ext 2345) or Bob
Mikesell (814-865-2987) to
schedule a farm visit
1-Previous nutrient manage
ment fellows at the University of
Pennsylvania School of Veterin
ary Medicine, Wayne Hassinger
and Kelli Monahan, designed the
survey, then collected and
analyzed the data described here.
This work was generously sup
ported by a grant from the Penn
sylvania Friends of Agriculture