Since 1995, pork operations from across the country have been honored as Environmental Steward award winners (see list on page 12). From Minnesota to Oklahoma and from California to North Carolina, the size and type of the winning farms have varied widely. However, they are united in their shared focus on safeguarding the environment while promoting the well-being of people and pigs.
Through the years, the Environmental Stewards have shared innovative approaches in making pork production more sustainable, many of which their peers also have embraced. Some examples include:
- Methane digesters that convert the energy stored in manure into methane, which is used to produce energy for on-farm or off-farm use.
- Comprehensive manure management programs that incorporate soil sampling, GPS tracking, and other tools.
- Green initiatives, such as using wind turbines and solar panels to power the farm.
- Phase feeding and other ration adjustments to match pigs’ nutrient requirements to produce less manure.
- Rotating vessel composter and other composting advancements to better manage mortalities.
- Buffer strips and tree windbreaks to help improve air, soil and water quality while providing wildlife habitat.
Through the years, the winning farms have opened their doors to the Pork Checkoff and National Hog Farmer magazine, co-sponsors of the program. Videos and photos of each farm help share their stories of innovation with their peers and others. As one of the team that has visited and helped document the farms, it is always inspiring to hear how these winners bring the We CareSM principles to life every day in their barns. Please join me in congratulating all of the winners since the program
began, as well as this year’s recipients, Wessling Ag of Iowa, and Stephens Farms of Missouri.
— Jan Jorgensen, Editor