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EQIP Helps Hog Farmer Improve Efficiency of Animal Waste Handling

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EQIP Helps Hog Farmer Improve Efficiency of Animal Waste Handling

Marlin Meyer and DC Rick DouglasThe improvements Marlin Meyer made to his Nodaway County hog operation weren't to keep up with what the neighbors were doing. That's because Meyer's 600-sow farm at Ravenwood is the last sizable hog farm in the county. But Meyer saw a way to utilize the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to make his handling of animal waste more efficient.

In September 2007, Meyer installed an underground, high-pressure transfer line to a new, center-pivot irrigation system. Then in June, he built a composter for dead hogs. He received technical and financial assistance from the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), which manages EQIP. The voluntary program provided 50 percent cost-share for both the pipeline and the composter, and a $10-per-acre incentive payment for three years for spreading effluent.

Rick Douglas, NRCS district conservationist, says about 4,000 feet of 8-inch, underground pipe carries liquid waste from a lagoon to the center-pivot irrigator. It replaced above-ground pipes that Meyer used to have to move to a traveling gun and a less-efficient center-pivot irrigator.

 "It cuts the labor,"Meyer says. "I can turn the pump on and in two days I can do more irrigation than I used to be able to do in a week. And I don't even have to be out there."

Meyer says one rotation of the center-pivot irrigator covers 110 acres. He still uses a traveling gun to reach other areas of his crop fields, but it also can be attached to the underground pipes.

"In addition to reducing the labor associated with having to move the above-ground pipes around, this eliminates the obstacle on the surface,"Douglas says. "The key to installing this was trying to route the pipeline around the conservation practices already there to minimize the impact."

The five-stall composter provides a permanent location for storing dead hogs, which are covered with sawdust. It turns their carcasses into valuable nutrients that can be spread onto fields. From the 7,000 hogs on his farm, Meyer says he puts about 50 animals per week (mostly from the farrowing house) into the composter.Marlin Meyer

"It has made life nice to have a place for them,"he says.

Together, the irrigation system and composter probably would make Meyer's hog operation the most efficient in the county for handling animal waste; even if it weren't the only one.

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