For Howard and Jane Krikke of Greenwich, Ohio, the chance to farm full-time was years in the making, but definitely worth the wait.
After working 32 years as an engineer in the automotive industry, Howard focused on applying the latest technology in his family’s pork operation. Jane applied her accounting skills to manage the farm’s finances.
“We had a real interest in being independent and working for ourselves,” said Howard Krikke, who raises replacement gilts for Kalmbach Swine Management, based in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.
Since 2006, Krikke Pork has been home to two 2,500-head wean-to-finish buildings, bordered on the south and west by 30 acres of native hardwoods.
“We take pride in how we raise our pigs,” said Krikke, whose family has been honored as 2013 Environmental Stewards. “We want people to drive by and say ‘that’s the kind of place where I want my food raised.’”
State-of-the-art technology is incorporated into the two barns, including tunnel ventilation, drop curtains, self-contained pits, flip-to-clean feeders and Integra-link feed tank monitoring.
“Our pigs are well taken care of, and we are proud to say we’ve raised these animals,” said Jane Krikke, adding that the farm adheres to the industry’s We CareSM principles.
The barns are designed with an auto-sort system. A scale mechanism determines the weight of each pig and sorts them to the light- or heavy-feeding area.
“We’ve found that pigs from the auto-sort system load onto trucks easier and with a lower
stress level,” Howard Krikke said.
Water meters monitor and record water use in the barns. “Our goal is to be efficient with water usage, providing adequate water to the pigs and minimizing effluent application to fields,” he noted.
Before construction on the barns began in 2005, the Krikkes contacted the neighbors, who had concerns about the potential for odor. Bonnie Morris was apprehensive at first.
“For years, we didn’t have any close neighbors, and we enjoyed our privacy. But after the Krikke family built the pig barns, we found that we didn’t have anything to be concerned about. I know they would do anything in the world for me.”
The Krikkes’ innovative manure application techniques have helped keep odor issues to a minimum. That was a priority when the farm was established, along with using manure to replace expensive fertilizer nutrients.
After the pits are agitated prior to application, manure samples are collected for nutrient evaluation. “Since we are using manure as fertilizer, we want the pits to be as homogeneous as possible from top to bottom,” Krikke said.
Manure is custom applied through a GPS-guided dragline system using an Aerway applicator that allows manure to be quickly absorbed into the soil. The manure provides 80 percent of nitrogen, 50 percent of phosphorous and all of the potash required by the family’s crops. This saves 50 percent or more in fertilizer costs during the two-year, corn-soybean rotation, Krikke said.
Enhancing a Shared Home
Farming sustainability and protecting natural resources are important at Krikke Pork, where the nearby wooded areas provide a habitat for the abundant wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, ground hogs, opossums, deer and an occasional wild turkey roam the woods.
For the Krikke family, taking good care of the land is simply how they do business.
“One of our principal values is that the land is going to outlast us,” Krikke said. “Our goal is to make the land better than when we came here, so future generations also will be able to produce food and fiber.”
Stewards Combine Ingenuity, Integrity
Bacon Hill Farm joins other pork operations across the country in their commitment to protecting natural resources while minimizing the environmental footprint. The 2013 Pork Industry Environmental Stewards selected by the Pork Checkoff’s Environmental Stewards subcommittee include:
• Russell Brothers LLC, Monticello, Iowa
• Bacon Hill Farm, Dodge, Neb.
• Blue Mountain Farms, Milford, Utah
“The forward-thinking 2013 Stewards focus on innovative solutions and ideas on their farms,” said Lynn Harrison, chair of the Environmental Stewards selection subcommittee and former president of the National Pork Board. “They are doing all this while adhering to the industry’s We CareSM ethical principles.”
Now in its 19th year, the Environmental Stewards award recognizes producers who demonstrate a firm commitment to safeguarding the environment and their local communities. The winners were chosen earlier this year based on their manure management systems, water and soil conservation practices, odor-control strategies, farm aesthetics, neighbor relations, wildlife habitat promotion and innovative ideas used to protect the environment. The judges represented pork producers and environmental organizations.
To take a video tour of the 2013 Environmental Stewards’ farms, visit http://video.pork.org/.