The Environmental Defense Fund is poised to begin installation of cleaner technologies, bringing relief to hog farmers, their neighbors and the environment. The EDF forms partnerships with business, governments and communities to find practical environmental solutions.

With an astonishing ten million pigs in North Carolina’s hog industry, animal waste stored in open lagoons is a major environmental and health concern. This June, under its new Lagoon Conversion Program, the state awarded grants of up to $500,000 each to two hog farms and a nearby plant that will use new technology to turn the waste from 60,000 hogs into fertilizer. “This is a great beginning for the state’s push to convert all open-air lagoons to modern systems,” said EDF environmental scientist Joseph Rudek.

In recent years, Rudek and his colleagues in EDF’s Raleigh, NC office helped document air and water pollution from the open lagoons and shaped legislation that permanently banned new lagoons. Rudek also served on the committee that evaluated alternatives and chose the new waste treatment system, which cuts ammonia 80 percent and virtually eliminates pathogens and odor.

Frontline Farmers, a coalition from the hog industry and EDF are working to make conversion to the new systems economically feasible. “Once we get these systems working on the ground, we can develop a market and bring down installation and operating costs,” Rudek said.