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Simple Solution Reduces Odor, Waste From Hog Lagoons

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JOHNSTON COUNTY — A simple idea could change the way hog waste lagoons look and smell. Farmer Julian Barham is using a new invention that could solve an old problem.

A plastic material covers Barham's lagoon, controlling odor while bacteria breaks down the waste. What comes out of the lagoon is also unusual.

The gas that would normally float into the air is piped into a room and converted into electricity. Barham's power bill for his 4,000 swine operation was cut in half.

"There will be certain smaller farms where this will not be practical," Barham said. "But if the farm is large enough to produce enough energy, I think it would be justifiable."

The cover significantly cuts down on the odor, and because the rain cannot get in, the lagoon treats about 30 percent less wastewater.

State and federal scientists are also pleased with a fabric windbreak wall that catches dust particles. The dye blowing from the vent demonstrates how easily odors can travel to nearby homes.

"We're finding that anything we can do to reduce the dust that leaves a property has a very significant impact on odor reduction," said Dr. Mike Williams, ofN.C. State's Waste Management Center.

The lagoon cover and windbreak wall cost around $250,000 to install.

Barham says other farmers have to decide for themselves whether they are worth the investment. He says they are for his farm.

Electricity savings at the farm will make up for the cost of the renovations in about five years. The lagoon cover should last 15 years.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
Julie Moos, Web Editor

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