LIDDERDALE --- What is good for the environment is good for the pigs and the producer, says Pete Juergens.
With that in mind, Juergens and his family have made it their mission to make sure it happens.
The family owns a large hog and farming operation near here in Carroll County. Pete and his brother, Aaron, purchased three finishing sites from their father, Ron, in 2006.
This included the Ranch Creek site, which hosts two finishing buildings with a capacity of about 2,400 pigs.
It’s this site that earned the brothers one of four national Environmental Stewardship Awards for 2010 from the National Pork Board.
The site has two, 48-pen double-curtained buildings. The brothers contract finish pigs for their father.
Pigs weigh 55 to 65 pounds when they arrive at the site.
With the help of environmental specialist Gary Rapp, Juergens says they emphasize reducing odor in the facilities while at the same time making the buildings more pig- and producer-friendly.
And, in the process, higher-quality manure is being used on their fields.
“We really wanted to focus on air quality,” he says. “We wanted to do all we could to reduce gases, dust and odor inside the barn and to make the site more pleasant.”
Since most of the gases inside a building are a product of the decomposition process, Juergens says the best way to lessen gas is to do that at the source.
Rapp developed the Juergens Environmental Control System to reduce odor, dust and gas and has partnered his patents with Juergens Environmental Control.
“My folks had seen Rapp’s system at a farm in Maryland, and we thought we could do something similar at Ranch Creek,” Juergens says.
There are five key components in the system, including two
neutralization processes at pit level and an atomization system that treats air from ceiling to floor.
The aerobic pit neutralizer takes place on the surface of the pit’s manure-storage level. Solution is applied every four hours for saturation of the ammonia into the aerated solution application.
Gaseous nitrogen is collected in the solution, and then converted to liquid ammonium once every 12 hours.
“This allows us to keep the commodity that is in the manure, rather than losing it,” Juergens says.
The conversion process also eliminates the vapors, enhancing air quality in the facility.
Juergens says the anaerobic pit neutralizer was designed to attack odors and harmful gases at the bottom of the pit.
The neutralizer product is regulated by the number of hogs in the building. Air exiting through pit fans also is treated to further reduce odor.
Juergens says the atomization system uses a system of pipes that run the length of the building.
“Valves are installed every 5 to 10 feet for misting the solutions into the air,” he says.
“This solution neutralizes ammonia and collects particulate matter, allowing it to settle to the floor and pit area. The ammonia is converted to ammonium.”
Juergens says the system comes with a price, but he feels the investment is well worth it.
“The pigs are healthier, and people seem to have better attitudes when they are working the buildings.”
Average daily gain has improved, reducing feed costs, he says. Death loss and medication costs are also lower.
The site’s results have been evaluated through Iowa State University and the NRCS.