[permaculture] Poplar trees may be new draw for pig farms

Marimike6 at cs.com Marimike6 at cs.com
Wed Dec 17 17:58:41 EST 2003

In a message dated 12/16/2003 2:06:46 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
saor at ycbtal.net writes: 
> WHITAKERS, N.C. — After years of struggling with the dirty disposal 
> problem of sludge from hog waste lagoons, researchers have come up with 
> a possible green solution: poplar trees that suck up the waste like soda 
> straws.
> If the procedure works well enough to be approved by state water quality 
> officials, it could more than cut in half the cost of closing a waste 
> lagoon, currently done with bulldozers and dump trunks.
> "It is a simple method," said Frank Humenik, coordinator of the animal 
> waste management program at North Carolina State University.

Here in NC we should consider this proposal seriously. I've read your many 
discourses on how bad factory farms are, and the points you raise are all true. 
But let's get real. This is the way it's done now and no one is going to 
replace factory farms with something better-- better in terms of providing as much 
supermarket pork and making the pork producers as much money. We may not 
approve of it,  but these folks aren't just going to go away and die on our say so.

Listen to Frank Humenik. This spring I attended his Fourth Annual Wetlands 
Conference down in Wilmington, where presenters discussed the state of the art 
on waste conversion methods, covering maybe twenty methods of converting 
poultry and hog farm waste to either harmless residue or usable product. Poplars are 
as good a solution as any we were able to come up with..

But we waste our energy if we bark at the moon for being too bright. We could 
stop mercury and sulfur pollution from coal-fired smokestacks tomorrow, if we 
just decided to stop using electricity. Of course, that ain't going to happen 

And to convince large-scale hog farmers they would be better world citizens 
by scaling back to permacultural methods....  good luck on that.  I've met a 
few, and that ain't going to happen either. These guys are pretty hard to 
convince that any new ways at all are worth thinking about, being fairly low on the 
volutionary ladder themselves. Humenik does as good a job as anyone in the 
practical research department.

So I'm impressed, if poplar plantings can remediate a decommissioned hog 
lagoon in only ten years. Besides, as Mr London points out, you end up with a 
pretty good light hardwood for furniture. I didn't know about the poplar honey, 
but that's alright too.

And a stand of poplars looks a lot prettier than the average old hog lagoon. 
They are native around here, and I have lots of seedlings coming up behind my 
house if you want some.

Mike Elvin
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