Are there too many pig barns?

This weekend I drove from Mankato to eastern South Dakota. Lots of planters in the field and it appears that a majority of the corn in southern Minnesota is in the ground. It’s been wetter in eastern South Dakota so more evidence of corn still being planted. By the time of my return on Sunday afternoon quite a few corn fields were emerged enough to row the corn the majority of my trip home.

I even saw some manure being injected on a few fields on Friday so I know those producers were feeling good. I have a friend who runs a manure application business, along with doing construction. He once told me that with construction your schedule mismatch with a producer was a source of conflict (why can’t you start sooner or why is it taking so long?). With manure application, they were always glad when he arrived at a site, regardless of the time of day.

Dr Dan Anderson, the ag engineer ‘poop’ guy at Iowa State University has written recently about the match between livestock manure and cropping systems. In all but a few counties in Iowa, the amount of manure being produced by livestock doesn’t come close to matching the nutrient removal of the crops grown in the county. Even with the very large increase in swine numbers in many counties, this mismatch continues to widen as yields for corn and soybeans are increasing faster than the number of pigs producing manure to fertilize this yield.

So while it looks like the number of swine facilities in some areas are very intensive, the use of the nutrients produced in these facilities still isn’t enough to match the nutrients removed by the crops grown around these facilities.

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