Protecting and Improving the Environment

Farmers were among the first, and still some of the best, conservationists, according to James Lamb, a pig farmer who grew up on a 75-acre tract of land in Sampson County, North Carolina, farmed by his father and grandfather before him.

“Farmers are in it for the long haul,” said Lamb, who now raises 3,000 pigs on his family farm. “We depend on the air, the water and the land to keep our animals healthy and our food safe.”

That’s why Lamb is especially committed to protecting the environment as both a farmer and as an environmental specialist at Prestage Farms, an industry leader in pork and turkey production with locations in Iowa, Oklahoma, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. In his role, he helps partner growers in the Carolinas comply with environmental regulations and recycle pig manure, using it as fertilizer on pastures and cropland.

Lamb is also involved in research to find ways for pig farms to further reduce their carbon footprint and recycle nutrients by finding other uses of manure, such as for energy. For example, he is working with Clemson University and North Carolina State University to develop an economical way to dry solids from hog lagoons to use as fertilizer or for energy.

“The goal is to find ways to use 100% of the manure in the hog lagoons,” Lamb said.

Drying manure makes it easier to combust, creating a source of energy that can be used on the farm or sold back to the power grid for others to use in the region. Efforts are also underway to determine if the manure could be economically broken into its various components, such as nitrogen, copper and zinc, which could then be offered to other industries. For instance, copper is used in making smartphones, Lamb said.

The goal is to protect the environment both now and for the long-run.

“The environment around our farms is where our children breathe the air, drink the water and play on the land,” Lamb said. “It’s where we hunt and fish. It’s critically important to us because we’re as close to the environment as anyone.”