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Reconstructing the Past to Understand Impacts on Water Quality

By Maya Hoon

This article originally appeared in on Water Resources Research Institute blog.

Home to many swine industries, North Carolina has been a booming hub for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) since the 1980’s. However, as hog farms continue to increase, more hog waste is stored in open-air lagoons, posing risks to water resources.

Hog CAFOs are industrially-owned hog facilities, typically hosting high densities of swine. These CAFOs are designed to contain and feed swine for a certain amount of time before they are harvested for meat production. In the time these hogs are raised, their waste – usually consisting of feces and blood – are kept in waste lagoons.

Many hog farmers spray stored hog waste from the lagoons onto surrounding agricultural fields to recycle the waste and water crops. However, these sprays potentially introduce pathogens, excessive nutrients (such as phosphorus and nitrogen), and other emerging contaminants into water resources through soil infiltration and runoff. Not only are water resources threatened, but local communities as well.

Interested in the relationship between hog farm density and local water quality, Lise Montefiore, a third-year Biological & Agricultural Engineering (BAE) Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University, is using a joint North Carolina Sea Grant – WRRI fellowship to tackle the issue.

Read the full article here.