When speaking about the Brandon Maple Leaf plant’s reported hog shortage, Don Flaten, a University of Manitoba soil science professor, said hog barns have an image problem and most Manitobans “don’t have as positive an attitude towards intensive livestock operations as they could and should have.”
He added, “There’s lots of areas of the province where manure nutrients could be applied in balance with the crop removal without any extraordinary investment or technology, such as anaerobic digestion … (and would) benefit agronomically from having access to more manure phosphorus.” (Western Producer, June 12, 2014)
Is he again glossing over the real problems with extreme buildup of phosphorus (manure) in areas of concentrated hog production? He knows full well that when the government of Manitoba placed a top regulation limit of more than 800 pounds of available phosphorus per acre, he and they were helping the hog industry by compensating for the lack of manure spread acres with a “licence to pollute.” Most crops use only 30 to 40 pounds of phosphate a year.
He was a main player in developing and recommending this regulation to the government. He knew then that industry was unwilling to incur the expense of transporting the manure from areas with too much to areas that could use it in a balanced way. They still don’t.
They do want to build new barns as cheaply as possible in other areas of the province where the same regulation limits apply.
Flaten is posturing and once again supporting the hog industry by proposing that polluting industries that want to operate as cheaply as possible can become environmentally sustainable simply by changing location.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 2, 2014