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Hog Lagoons Holding Up, But More Rain Could Cause Problems

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WILSON — North Carolina's animal waste lagoons are holding up well despite heavy rain -- for now, but the saturated fields are putting many farmers in a tough position. There is fear that another couple days of heavy rain could do cause serious problems for some farmers.

Most farmers spray the waste in those lagoons on their crops to control volume, but with the ground so saturated, the state says the spraying has to stop.

Not everyone is following the rules.

For state water quality inspectors, that is disturbing news. One Duplin County hog farm is spraying wastewater onto nearby fields, in spite of the fact that the ground is already soaked.

NC Livestock Agent Walter Earle says when the fields are dry, special plants absorb most of the nutrients, but right now they just can't take any more water.

Once that waste ends up in ditches, it flows toward the nearest swamp or river.

So far, most lagoons appear to be intact, but, some farmers are spraying to lower those levels anyway. One farmer turned his pump off soon after Sky-5 showed up.

It doesn't appear to be a problem everywhere. One new operation, also in Duplin County, has plenty of room for the waste. It could easily go for weeks without spraying or overflowing.

Inspectors say most farmers are in good shape now because they planned for a wet season, and sprayed weeks ago when the ground was dry. Every livestock farmer who uses the spray method has taken state classes on proper implementation of the plan. Earle says the threat of a wet winter was anticipated because of El Nino.

State inspectors have handed out more than 20 rain-related citations this month. They say spraying can probably resume in most areas, if we stay dry for the next four to five days.


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