Photobucket

Get Jill's new lazy vegetarian cooking eBook:

Pay what you can

Order Prints:

Size


La Vida Locavore
 Subscribe in a reader
Follow La Vida Locavore on Twitter - Read La Vida Locavore on Kindle

This Little Piggy Went to a CAFO

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Oct 27, 2009 at 17:53:51 PM PDT


Bookmark and Share

Mmm, bacon...

A few weeks back, while in Iowa, I visited a hog confinement. Everyone in Iowa refers to the state as "the belly of the beast" and I did not want to be spared from any part of that beast. (Although my nose began having second thoughts about going to a CAFO the night before I went.)  

Jill Richardson :: This Little Piggy Went to a CAFO
So, how was it? Well, here's a picture of the hog confinement from the road:

There are 4000 hogs in this building. They are 2 weeks from slaughter, and they put on 2 pounds a day. That means in the next 14 days, each pig will gain 28 lbs, and the entire facility will hold an extra 112,000 lbs of pig. Things are gonna be tight in there before it's all over.

How bad's the smell? Well, as we approached, I didn't smell much. While there were about 5 months of pig shit under the facility (I assume), it was 30F outside, so the smell didn't carry so much. The entire facility was all closed up. There are curtains on the sides of the facility and they were closed to keep the pigs warm. When we got close and they opened the curtains, then I smelled it.


See the curtains on the side? Those can be raised or lowered.

The facility also had a ventilation system. If it didn't, the pigs would have died from the fumes. A farmer on our tour told a story about a friend whose power went out once. By the time they got the power back on, 1000 of his pigs had died because they couldn't survive breathing the fumes of their own shit.

The pigs still had SOME room to move around. This particular farmer raises 32,000 pigs per year, in a few batches. He first gets piglets from a farrowing operation when they are 3 weeks old. This facility would have held 8000 of those until they reached 75 lbs apiece (which means there would be 600,000 lbs of pig in there). Then the farmer sells half the pigs to another farmer who will raise them to slaughterweight. At that point, the remaining pigs have some room to run around - an amount of room that decreases daily as the pigs gain a collective 8000 lbs each day. It was like a crowded subway car, except imagine if that car was located on top of the latrines at Girl Scout camp. That's what life in a hog confinement is like.


There is still some extra space in there (although not much).

For contrast, here are George Naylor's pigs:

You see what they are doing? Rooting. It's a natural pig behavior. Pigs LOVE to play, and the love to root around in the soil. The pigs in the confinement all looked very playful, but with the wooden floor under them, they were unable to root. One farmer I asked told me that she had a 1930's era instruction manual on raising hogs that said that they don't get the proper nutrients if they can't root. I suppose that we've taken care of that problem with the confined hogs' "modern" diet of 25% soy, 75% corn, and some vitamins.

The cruelty to the animals is of course what I expected to be blown away by when I saw the hog confinement, and it really wasn't. People in a subway car don't look too miserable, really, although we'd be much less happy or healthy there if we spent our entire lives in those crowded conditions. But just looking at the pigs wasn't the overwhelming horror that I expected. Nor was it the overwhelming stench, thanks to the temperature.

So I asked a few Iowans: What, really, is SO bad about this way of raising hogs? Their answer surprised me. They cited the water quality problems and the smell and the health problems but their #1 complaint was the unfairness to the farmers. To the farmers who own the hog confinements, that is. That is not at all what I expected.

Here's the thing: Building a hog confinement is a HUGE capital investment. It's a huge risk. You are betting, when you take out that loan and spend all the money, that you will be able to sell your hogs for a high enough price or that you will be able to obtain a good enough contract for a long, long time - long enough to pay back your loan. You are betting that no diseases will wipe out your pigs before your loan is paid off. You are betting that no government policies will make your style of farming illegal or more expensive before your loan is paid off. If you have a contract with a company like Cargill, you are also betting that they won't demand that you make expensive upgrades to your hog facility in order to keep you contract, upgrades that may keep you in debt longer than you intended.

And with all of this risk, everyone except for the farmer holds all the cards. If a farmer has a contract with a company like Cargill, Cargill gets to dictate exactly how the hogs are raised and they can refuse to renew your contract if they wish. Cargill owns the hogs, and you own the manure, the building, the risk, the debt, and the dead animals. If you don't have a contract, you are trying to sell animals on the open market for a good price, and companies like Cargill are working against you to make sure the market is always oversaturated so that prices are low. Right now, I was told, prices are low, and they are STILL building more hog confinements, because they want to keep prices low in the future.

On top of this, Iowans explained to me about their tile system. Below all of the fields in Iowa, there is a system of tiles that guide all of the water into the waterways (if I understand correctly). Once a pollutant gets into the tiles, it gets into the waterways. And nitrogen fertilizer and hog manure are getting into the waterways, polluting Iowa's water and directly leading to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The "correct" way to apply hog manure is by injecting it into the soil. But not everyone does it that way. Some just spread the manure on top of the field. And if they do it while the field is frozen, it sits on top of the land and then melts off into the waterways in the springtime. (And think about it... when is the best time for applying manure? When there are no crops on the field... and that's basically winter, when the field is frozen.)

Then there's the question of antibiotics. MRSA - methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus - has been well documented on hog confinements. The pigs live in a constantly stressed state, which suppresses their immune systems. Plus, with so many pigs in one place together with their shit, conditions are ripe for sharing germs. And with all of the antibiotics given to them, the bugs that remain and breed are the antibiotic-resistant ones. These are transferred to the manure - and onto the fields, and into the waterways.

Then there's the smell. I was told that when the air stands still in Iowa, they have "shitsmog." It's kind of like the air quality problems in Los Angeles, but it's caused by hog shit instead of auto exhaust. The farmers' family breathes this air on their family farm turned hog confinement, making them more susceptible to asthma. And the smell is a nuisance to neighbors and it drops the neighbors' property values.

One more problem that the farmers pointed out was the economically depressed conditions of their rural towns. With farmers each farming huge tracts of land, fewer people make their living in rural areas. In fact, there aren't enough people to support vibrant downtown businesses. It's not even that Wal-mart came in and wiped out the Mom N Pop stores where I visited. There was no Wal-Mart. Only the county seat had a grocery store. It was just a ghost town. Large farms produce cheap food but they don't produce jobs.

So that's my trip to a hog farm. It wasn't as viscerally disgusting as I expected, but between the impacts on the environment, the economy, and the rights of farmers, I think I'll skip out on all factory farmed pig products all the same.

Tags: , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email

Thanks for the tour... (4.00 / 5)
And thanks for not making it a scratch & sniff.

;-P

I was amusing myself with a game of "Spot the CAFO" from 30,000 feet a couple weeks back on my flight to Jersey, but I got bored of it quick.  Too many of 'em, not enough of a challenge.

Okay, back to seriousness -

The community thing you bring up intrigues me, that's kinda my thing.  Where do they get groceries, or a light bulb when one goes out, etc?  Add that to the unfairness factor.  You shouldn't be stuck a 60-minute drive from your groceries, or 90 minutes from the nearest theater or restaurant or something in case you want to actually do something human once in a while, like go out with the spouse or have a cup of coffee with the neighbors.  I really just can't imagine the loneliness or the isolation.  That's gotta be a big factor in rural suicide rates, too.

Little surprise that mono-farming with the occasional housing development sprinkled in doesn't support cohesive, vibrant communities.  Where are the factories, the warehouses, the rail hubs and terminals, the general store... oh that's right.   We figured we didn't need them anymore.  Rising tide ain't gonna lift your boat if you ain't got one...


They drive to get groceries (4.00 / 5)
they drive far. And the kids have to be bused quite a ways to school as well. It didn't used to be like that. In addition to the boarded up businesses we saw, there are schools that no longer have children attending them.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
Schools are another good point... (4.00 / 5)
The yellow bus fleets are bound to hit a wall on fuel prices sooner or later, and there goes the idea that every child in America gets a K-12 education.  Another thing to prepare for...

[ Parent ]
maybe this means we go back to (4.00 / 5)
smaller schools and more of them? Rural communities truly need to be revitalized and making the farms smaller seems to be the best way to do that.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
The little red school house... (4.00 / 2)
That would be ideal, of course.  And I'd argue that we never should have left that way in the first place.  But to be honest, what I really see as more likely, at least at first, is a reversion back to the days, in many places, where farm labor began at like 6 or 7 years old, and that's all you did and all you'd ever probably do.  Not that there's anything at all wrong with that, of course, if it's done right.  Which is to say, of course, that it shouldn't be done for Cargill and Co...

Which of course doesn't mean we shouldn't also fight like hell to turn these places back into real towns and re-localize in a truly workable manner again, though.  How to beat The Money and The Power is the question here, imo.  They're the only ones standing in the way of such a thing, and unfortunately they tend to have all levels of government at their back 99% or so of the time...


[ Parent ]
where I live (4.00 / 5)
you can buy the cheaper cuts of CAFO pork for as low as $1 per pound at times.

CAFO chicken is easy to find for that price, sometimes a lot less, including whole fryers.

It's cheaper than canned pet food, and a lot cheaper than good quality vegetable food. This is a very, very weird pricing structure, that obviously doesn't reflect real costs, either long or short term, and also demonstrates the low quality of the food these animals get.

I won't eat any of it, but I do use it in making dog food, on the presumption that the stuff in the canned dog food is even worse.  

"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi


Fascinated by a Safeway flier... (4.00 / 4)
I haven't been in a 'mainstream' supermarket's meats or produce section in well over 5 years, probably maybe even close to 10.  When I do go in the places, it's just to make  a beeline to the razor / toiletry aisle or for a new toothbrush or something like that.  So I don't really notice the current prices of the food in places like that, or even see them.  What I know is my co-op, the farmers' market or (sometimes) New Seasons.

Anyways, The Oregonian leaves a promo thing on our stoops at my building every Tuesday, and I usually just browse the Food Day feature, then toss it all into the recycling bin.  Don't even bring it in the house, lol.  I browse the feature on the 30 second stroll from my stoop to the cans.  

Anyways, a few months back I decided to look through the Safeway flier just to get a feel for what / how most people eat these days.  I was amazed by the stuff I saw!  It's probably not news to anybody here, or anywhere really, but it still shocked me to know that 4 blocks from me down 39th, Coke is being sold for significantly cheaper than bottled water, a pound of CAFO meat is cheaper than a pound of rice, butter is being almost given away, etc etc...


[ Parent ]
Anytime you see (4.00 / 4)
beef at less than $2.50 or $3/lb, or pork at those prices or chicken at $1/lb or less it's a loss leader. Butter's cheap because the dairy farmers aren't being paid what it costs to feed the cows, as you already know.

I'm buying local milk nowadays. And while I'd like to support those farms that sell to the national buyers, they're not making enough to support themselves, so what to do? Buy the national brands which are a bit cheaper than the locals and at least help support them, or buy from the local dairies that were smart enough not to get caught up in the national commodities system? I decided to go with the local farms.

I have several choices, Alpenrose, located in Portland, and which I have to make a special trip to a part of Canby (closest retailer) that is out of the way for me and is $3/gallon, which I think is reasonable for a dairy direct marketing their own milk. Then there's the jersey dairy down the road from me who sells some of his milk at the produce stand. His milk is $10/gallon but it's really the bomb if you want to make certain cheeses, and I do use his milk for those, just not for the more common cheese that I eat a lot of. Another is Mallorie's Dairy in Silverton, also a direct marketer of their own milk, who, joy of joy's, sells at the produce stand too, and at $3/gallon and is a good sub for Alpenrose.

John, who owns the produce stand also stocks a butter made by a creamery over in McMinville - 30 or so miles as the crow flies from here. Far as I'm concerned, that's local. And, again, at $3.69/lbs is reasonable as long as I'm frugal with it. Last pound of butter I bought lasted over a month, and that was with using a lot of it for cooking.


Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


[ Parent ]
Been meaning to ask you... (4.00 / 2)
Know anything about Sunshine?  Portland's other dairy?  Any scoops or other info on them?   They're typically what I use in coffee (and as far as I can tell, 98% of the Portland coffee shops also use Sunshine as their half & half and milk brand) and eggs, pasta, etc... although sometimes I go with Alpenrose, especially when I don't wanna head to the coop or New Seasons, because the little Asian market across the street from me (you probably know the one, right next to Gladstone Coffee) carries their stuff.

Is that McMinnville creamery Rose Valley?  I have a stick of theirs in the fridge right now...

:)

I hardly ever use butter, the last stick I have in the fridge right now is from a pound I bought probably 2 or 3 months ago.

Oh, also - do you know any local dairy farmers who work with Organic Valley?


[ Parent ]
Sunshine looks like it's a dairy processor (4.00 / 4)
but they're using milk from one local dairy and from a large dairy in the Yakima valley. The smaller dairy in Verboort (also the source of the much famed 'Verboort sausage') is a pastured dairy, and the one in the Yakima valley is a dry lot but it sounds like the cows are well taken care of, at least according to what's on the website.

One of the things I like that I found out from Sunshine's website is that they are a coproducer. That means that they are available to develop/produce products for other producers. For instance, if you are a dairy and would like to say make ice cream from your cows' milk, but don't want or can't afford to build your own facility, a coproducer will manufacture that product for you. You are then free to sell the product. Coproducers are very important and may serve as the only way for small and very small farms to produce value added products.

I don't think I'd heard of them untill you mentioned them.  

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


[ Parent ]
Coproducers (4.00 / 4)
I hadn't heard that word before, that's what Evans' Farmhouse Creamery does for a couple of small companies. They take raw milk and make yogurt, butter, buttermilk and a few other products to spec. That kind of partnership is good for everyone.

I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
--"Blueberries" by Robert Frost


[ Parent ]
you're absolutely right (4.00 / 4)
I entirely forgot about loss leaders. And to think I used to work in a grocery store :-)

That explains a lot of it. A loss leader, for anyone reading this who is not familiar with the term, is a product of high and general desirability, that is sold at a moderate loss, to lure in customers with the low prices - and I expect just about always something highly perishable. I knew dairy was often run as a loss leader, but it never occurred to me that meat would be run as one - meat was just a small, specialized, sideline at our co-op.

There's more to it than that, but this is part of the equation. Thanks for reminding me of that, Joanne.

"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi


[ Parent ]
Yeah, people assume that everything at the store is sold at a proffit (4.00 / 4)
which ain't necessarily so all the time. Harold has had people question why we sell eggs at $3/dozen when they can buy them at the store sometimes for $.99/dozen. Then he or I have to explain the whole loss leader concept to them.

I also have heard people ask why products like pastured poultry cost more than say, even the regular priced birds. Pastured is $3-$5/pound, regular price at the store around here is $1.59-$2.59/pound, and god help ya if they bring up the "I bought chicken at the store for $.99/pound" argument. I just explain that the different systems have different costs and produce different products. You don't expect to buy a NY steak for ground beef prices do ya?

People usually understand after that.

It's not that people are trying to cheat us or anything, they just honestly don't know.

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


[ Parent ]
price differential (4.00 / 2)
An argument I never hear is that, regardless of producer costs, better real food is more expensive because demand is large relative to supply. That's true, isn't it? A western Oregon farmer recently wrote that she has more demand for eggs than she can supply, so I don't think I'm too pollyannish about this.

[ Parent ]
That's true (4.00 / 4)
that's why the processors would have an interest in keeping supply of commodity ag products at high levels. Supply/demand. Supply is high, it's a buyer's market. Demand is high/supply short it's a seller's market. Production costs factor into the absolute minimun that you have to get to break even, but that's just a book keeping thing. That tells you how much you need to get in order for the system to be sustainable based on inputs and outputs.

How well you will be able to do financially is going to be determined by supply and demand as well as a market's ability to pay.

That's one reason why advertising is so important. That's not only how you let people know about your product or service, but more importantly, how you create demand for your product.

If you're refering to me regarding the demand for eggs and how much we charge, you're right to a point. But you still have to keep in mind the customer's ability or willingness to pay. With me, it's also about margins and how big of a margin I feel comfortable with. The market in my area will support $3/dozen for range hen eggs. Sometimes people pay a bit more, but that's their choice, we don't ask for it. In fact, the pullet eggs we sell for $3/a dozen and a half because the eggs are around half the size of the normal eggs. Thank god the pullet eggs don't last very long, as it costs the same to produce full sized eggs as pullet eggs.

But anyway, getting back to the supply/demand issue. People pay $5-$6/dozen for range hen eggs in Portland, at least those are the prices I've seen. Hey, if you can get that, knock yourself out, more power to you. But if I tried to charge that out here, especially with our customers who are pretty savy, they'd go somewhere else or back to the store bought eggs. It's like Starbucks and their fancy coffees. They can get $5 or so, but not $8 for a cup of coffee, even if it is fancy with steamed milk on top.

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


[ Parent ]
I pay $5 a dozen (4.00 / 3)
for organic eggs here in the grocery store. Not free range. I'd prefer free range, and NOT "cage-free," which apparently can just mean they open the door of the barn at some point, and the chickens are too screwed up to leave. Free range implies something about what the birds are eating, which "cage-free" does not.

"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
ps (4.00 / 3)
"Fascinated by a Safeway flier" sounds like the first line of a poem :-)

"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
poem (4.00 / 5)
What's For Dinner?

Fascinated by a Safeway flier,
I discovered that flesh was less than fiber
Less than leaves, less than seeds.

What is this flesh, I wondered
This flesh, itself consuming,
Alive with rough nutrition, slouching
Ever denser with fresh hell.

But oh, so stable, never fear
It's guaranteed, it will not falter
No harsh influences shall ever
make it alter.

No safer flesh was ever grown,
Sleep well, children, guaranteed,
Your dreams of gardens overblown,
Will turn to things you never need.

Glistening under plastic wrap,
Your fodder new, for all the best,
Ignore the naysayers, take a nap,
You've nothing else to do, but rest.



"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi


[ Parent ]
Ha! (4.00 / 3)
That's great. :)

When Jill was here, we did a Drinking Liberally thing where a local author here gave Jill a book of his poems.  One of 'em was really great, about fast food.  Don't remember the name or anything, though...


[ Parent ]
it IS great (4.00 / 3)
I have it at home. I'll have to get it and post the poem later.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
production contracts (4.00 / 4)
If I read your essay correctly, a producer with a Cargill contract is operating almost identically to the situation explained by Joanne in the chicken industry - producer takes the capital burden, capital risk, other risks, and provides ultra-cheap labor, and a monopoly integrator pays a certain amount per hundredweight raised.

Is this correct?

If this is correct, and this describes the situation in the monopoly chicken and hog industries, my next question is about beef. Does the same kind of contractual arrangement rule the beef industry?

This sounds more like indentured servitude than anything else. No wonder ham and chicken are cheap.


You are correct (4.00 / 4)
The one segment of the animal protien industry that hasn't been pretty much completely vertically integrated is the cattle industry. That's because a lot of cattlemen would shoot you where you stand if you tried to integrate it. And I'm not really joking all that much.

The problem with the cattle industry is that a lot of the feed lots are under contract to, or owned by, the big outfits like Cargill, JBS, etc., and that's because the big buyers like Safeway, buy from Cargill et al.

That's the problem with nationalization (I mean that to be the growing of a retailer to a national or international scale, not being taken over by the gov), big supply chains, uniformity over lots of retail outlets means you want to buy from as few suppliers as possible to keep that uniformity in product. Also, you have to have a certain ammount of product on a regular schedule, etc. Going big in one aspect of the chain means that everyone has to go big, or at least that's the easier way to do it. There are outfits supplying retail outlets from independant farms, but they're the exception, not the rule.

One of the problems, as I see it, that the cattle ranches have to deal with, and I'm talking about the cow/calf operations, is that they're all independant businesses, and in most cases, their calfs, when they're old enough, go to auction, and from there maybe to a backgrounder or stocker, and then the feed lot. There aren't all that many buyers out there anymore. I remember when 3 buyers got busted for collusion down at the Woodburn Auction Yard about 30 miles from us. Stopped the cattle sales cold for months, I think they still haven't recovered. Cattle ranches started taking their calves over the mountains to central and eastern Oregon because they could be a better price. Harold and I used to go down there every tuesday and watch the suckling calves, then the feeders, the old milk cows, and finally the bulls go through the auction. Used to be you could go down into the pens and check the cattle. I always looked foreward to going down to Woodburn. Harold still goes, every tuesday. Not too many cattle down there any more. Some, but not many.

Some cattle ranchers have gotten smart though. Country Natural Beef is a coop of ranches that have gone to marketing their own cattle. The have the cattle finished on a feedlot under their contract, and they decide how much they get paid, because those cattle ranchers and their families control every aspect of that steer or cow's life from conception to the price they get when the sell the meat to the store or at the store. So if you want to buy beef at the store, if a person can find it, you should buy their beef. They sell in Oregon and Washington and several other states. Here's their website - Country Natural Beef

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....


[ Parent ]
See, Joanne? (4.00 / 3)
I pay attention to what you write. Your effort is not wasted.

Auctions - that aspect of the business seems never, but never, to be discussed, although it's important. In Canada, 100% of the large auction yards are owned by the Nilsson company. Nilsson has a subsidiary, XL Foods, that owns more than 50% of Canadian beef slaughterhouse capacity. When they think the price of beef is too high, they drive the price down by just not bidding for a while.

I wonder how this works in the U.S. Who owns auction yards here?


[ Parent ]
great comment n/t (4.00 / 3)


"If God were to appear to starving people, he would not dare to appear in any other form than food." - Mahatma Gandhi

[ Parent ]
Cargill (4.00 / 2)
Did you get into nitty-gritty details about how important Cargill is in Iowa, or the part of Iowa you saw? Are they the only integrator, the biggest integrator, etc.?

Collusion... (4.00 / 2)
Even in places / industries where there are more than one Big Boss, I've still got to assume that they're all working towards the same end (cheapest product possible), and that there's no way they'd ever let the farmers get the upper-hand in the relationship.  Even if it meant hemorhaging money until the other side cracked.  Believe me, they can afford it...

Whether it's Cargill or somebody else, I don't think the exact numbers of integrators really matter as much as the system under which they operate.  I could be wrong, of course, but I don't think I am...


[ Parent ]
kinda agree (4.00 / 2)
but I think monopoly or oligarchic concentration provides a unique capability to squeeze suppliers.

[ Parent ]
Oh, absolutely... (4.00 / 2)
But what exists in the current food system model that would ever make any company involved act honestly or fairly towards farmers in the first place, be they Cargill or Tyson or Swift or ADM or a new start-up or anybody else?

[ Parent ]
Tiles (4.00 / 3)
Your information about the drainage system is news to me, as is so much I read here. Is that just for hog farms, or is that also for soybean and corn farms ?

I'm trying to think of a reason a farmer would incur the expense of such a drainage system. With water being the precious resource it is, I wouldn't think they want to divert water. The only reason I can imagine is to flush the pollution into our waterways - the system might prevent the contimination of groundwater and wells. Were other reasons offered to you? And although hog waste could be sucked into a tank truck and dumped into a stream or river, the same could not be done with the other pollutants.

I dunno - does the Clean Water Act not prohibit this kind of chicanery? Or did Grassley somehow get an exemption?

Do Iowa hog farmers use shit lagoons? Does this vary from farm to farm or county to county?


Actually (4.00 / 4)
I think the tile system is to keep fields from flooding, not for shunting manure and pollutants away from the field. Crops need drainage. Out here, we build up our soils with compost and have excellent drainage. Our secret - the soil we've built up is over hardpan, which is like putting potting soil on top of a concrete slab, so the water goes through the 12 or so inches we have, hits the hardpan and flows to the lowest point, which we are fortunate enough for it to be away from the house and gardens. Of course that means that the pasture is a swamp each winter for several months, which is why the horses have to be dry lotted each winter. When I don't the pasture is like the craters of the moon when it dries out. If I had the money, I'd put drain tiles out in our pasture, but I don't so I don't.

Normal people scare me. But not as much as I scare them.....

[ Parent ]
You could be right. (4.00 / 2)
Jill mentioned George's flooding problem. He must not have the drainage system.

[ Parent ]
no, everyone has the tiles (4.00 / 4)
they've been there for a long, long time. You'd have to get an Iowoan to give you a better description of it than I can. As for the flooding it's due to the soil compaction. The soil is absolutely DEAD and then they go over it again and again with heavy farm equipment and the water can't seep in.

"I can understand someone from Iowa promoting corn and soy, but we are not feeding the world, we are feeding animals and soft drink companies." - Jim Goodman

[ Parent ]
drainage (4.00 / 2)
That's interesting. I wonder if the tile systems were installed before the soil got ruined, at a time when the soil percolated.

[ Parent ]
Great!!! (0.00 / 0)
You have a point there men... =)

convertxtodvd coupon

[ Parent ]
tile drainage systems (4.00 / 4)
North Central Iowa Workshop to Discuss Farm Tile Drainage

Subsurface drainage, commonly known as ag tile systems, is an important part of farming systems in Iowa, according to Iowa State University engineers who will conduct the workshop.

The 2009 Farmland Drainage Workshop will cover the basics of building or retrofitting current systems and introduce new technologies, such as bioreactors, controlled drainage and wetlands, that reduce the negative environmental effects of tiling systems.

"While drainage systems are important and many times essential for crop production, we need to understand the water quality effects of subsurface drainage and methods to minimize potential consequences on downstream water bodies" says Matt Helmers, ISU Extension agricultural engineer.

Inspecting drainage systems

Drainage systems are installed to lower the water table and thereby improve growing conditions. Approximately half of Iowa's cropland uses subsurface drainage. To achieve the agronomic potential of a soil, adequate tile drainage is necessary.
...

Tile can break down from old age and cumulative loading, especially older tile that was not designed for today's heavy equipment and axle loads. Improper installation also can lead to drainage failure. If tile is not installed below the frost line, freeze-thaw cycles can fracture tile. The original quality of tile itself is important, too. If the tile materials absorb too much water, the tile is more likely to disintegrate over time.

Understanding and Locating Tile Drainage Systems

Subsurface drainage is used for agricultural, residential and industrial purposes to remove excess water from poorly drained land. An important feature statewide, drainage enhances Wisconsin agricultural systems, especially in years with high precipitation. Drainage systems improve timeliness of field operations, enhance growing conditions for crop production, increase crop yields on poorly drained soils and reduce yield variability. In addition to agronomic benefits, subsurface drainage can improve soil quality by decreasing soil erosion and compaction.



Pig Farming (4.00 / 2)
This type of farming is just plain and simply: WRONG.
I encourage all of you who read this, and all those who don't, to buy free range and organic products.

They are healthier and kinder to the animals.
Do not let these poor animals suffer any longer. TAKE A STAND.

Philip (feel free to check out my blog)


Buy Organic/Free Range (4.00 / 2)
Agreed with the last post. This is an unacceptable way to treat animals. In fact, this should be against the law. I encourage everyone to buy only free range/hormone free products.  

[ Parent ]
I always do my best to... (4.00 / 1)
Even though some of my friends occasionally mock me for "paying so damn much for weird brown eggs", my conscience can rest at ease knowing I'm not contributing to Big Ag torturing chickens and injecting them with hormones to mass produce eggs.

Act on Principles and make equality happen.

[ Parent ]
tasty becon (0.00 / 0)
People are just sick. Many of us have never taught that we don't own any living beings. What's more, I can't believe that people eat meat from farms where pigs had never moved more than half-meter and eat their own filth.
"1000 of his pigs had died Because They Could not survive breathing the fumes of Their Own shit" - I wonder how tasted bacon made from these pigs.

affordable dental implants, dental implants cost

Political Activism Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Menu

Make a New Account

Username:

Password:



Forget your username or password?


Notable Diaries
- The 2007 Ag Census
- Cuba Diaries
- Mexico Diaries
- Bolivia Diaries
- Philippines Diaries
- Kenya Diaries
- My Visit to Growing Power
- My Trip to a Hog Confinement
- Why We Grow So Much Corn and Soy
- How the Chicken Gets to Your Plate

Search




Advanced Search


Blog Roll
Blogs
- Beginning Farmers
- Chews Wise
- City Farmer News
- Civil Eats
- Cooking Up a Story
- Cook For Good
- DailyKos
- Eating Liberally
- Epicurean Ideal
- The Ethicurean
- F is For French Fry
- Farm Aid Blog
- Food Politics
- Food Sleuth Blog
- Foodgirl.ca
- Foodperson.com
- Ghost Town Farm
- Goods from the Woods
- The Green Fork
- Gristmill
- GroundTruth
- Irresistable Fleet of Bicycles
- John Bunting's Dairy Journal
- Liberal Oasis
- Livable Future Blog
- Marler Blog
- My Left Wing
- Not In My Food
- Obama Foodorama
- Organic on the Green
- Rural Enterprise Center
- Take a Bite Out of Climate Change
- Treehugger
- U.S. Food Policy
- Yale Sustainable Food Project

Reference
- Recipe For America
- Eat Well Guide
- Local Harvest
- Sustainable Table
- Farm Bill Primer
- California School Garden Network

Organizations
- The Center for Food Safety
- Center for Science in the Public Interest
- Community Food Security Coalition
- The Cornucopia Institute
- Farm Aid
- Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
- Food and Water Watch
-
National Family Farm Coalition
- Organic Consumers Association
- Rodale Institute
- Slow Food USA
- Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
- Union of Concerned Scientists

Magazines
- Acres USA
- Edible Communities
- Farmers' Markets Today
- Mother Earth News
- Organic Gardening

Book Recommendations
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
- Appetite for Profit
- Closing the Food Gap
- Diet for a Dead Planet
- Diet for a Small Planet
- Food Politics
- Grub
- Holistic Management
- Hope's Edge
- In Defense of Food
- Mad Cow USA
- Mad Sheep
- The Omnivore's Dilemma
- Organic, Inc.
- Recipe for America
- Safe Food
- Seeds of Deception
- Teaming With Microbes
- What To Eat

User Blogs
- Beyond Green
- Bifurcated Carrot
- Born-A-Green
- Cats and Cows
- The Food Groove
- H2Ome: Smart Water Savings
- The Locavore
- Loving Spoonful
- Nourish the Spirit
- Open Air Market Network
- Orange County Progressive
- Peak Soil
- Pink Slip Nation
- Progressive Electorate
- Trees and Flowers and Birds
- Urbana's Market at the Square


Active Users
Currently 0 user(s) logged on.

Powered by: SoapBlox