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Johnston County Farmer Uses Hog Waste To His Own Advantage

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CLAYTON, N.C. — With almost 4,000 active hog lagoons in North Carolina, scientists are looking for better ways to deal with hog waste. One of the experimental farms testing new technologies is using the hog waste to its own benefit.

Julian Barham has always been handy with tinkering and his hog farm is a showcase of ideas. Barham realized that the methane gas produced by the natural breakdown of the hog waste could be of value, so he started trapping it and using it to provide power on his farm.

He is also experimenting with the wastewater itself.

"We were looking to use that water a little better, and so we take that water and go into a greenhouse," Barham said.

The products from his experiment include thousands of tomatoes in his greenhouse.

Barham said he is proud of his experiment, but he said he is not sure if it would be economically viable for other farmers. His farm is one of a few funded under an agreement between the state and major pork companies.

It will take $30 million to close and clean up inactive hog lagoons in North Carolina. There are more than 1,100 statewide. The most are in Sampson County, but it is not just a rural problem.

Wake County has 14 inactive lagoons, Cumberland County has 37 and Johnston County has 54 inactive lagoons.