Odor control promised by Iowa Select farms
January 5, 2018



The two sites near Duncombe will follow the latest practices to cut back on odor, said representatives of Iowa Select Farms.

An electrostatic fence will be installed at the far end of the barn, outside the exhaust fans, said Darrell Hunt, site acquisition manager. It will put an electrostatic charge on the dust particles and take them out of the air, Hunt said, which cuts back on smell.

"People say we're not going to do it. We have our first one already in place over by Williams, Iowa. We are doing it," Hunt said.

He referred to comments by Dencklau and others at previous meetings. While Iowa Select and the barn's owner promised to use the electrostatic fence and plant trees, Dencklau said they didn't take any points in the matrix for this, which means they aren't required to do it.

The farms in question are contract grower farms, so the farms and the land aren't owned by Iowa Select, said Communications Director Jen Sorenson.

"But they will eventually house our pigs, which is why we're here," she said.

Hunt said Iowa Select is also working to provide landscaping plans for all of its new sites, putting trees in the right place to help decrease odors.

"With us it's going to be completely site specific," Hunt said. "If you have a site here, and there are no neighbors to the northeast, why would you plant trees to the north?"

"It gives us flexibility in how to plant the trees. If we put it in the matrix we're locked in," said Kent Pliner, assistant environmental compliance officer.

The electrostatic fence is not technically a "filter", Pliner said, so the company doesn't take any points for that in the matrix.

The Iowa Select representatives attended the supervisors' meeting, but didn't speak out, and visited with The Messenger afterward.

Speaking to concerns about water quality, Hunt said applying manure is actually more environmentally friendly than applying anhydrous ammonia.

"Anhydrous ammonia is another form of nitrogen," he said. "There's no limit to what they can put on. There still isn't. Nobody monitors it."

Hog operations are monitored yearly by the DNR, he said, and have to submit a plan every year showing how much they will apply, plus soil samples every four years.

With ammonia, "They don't have to do soil samples," Hunt said. "They don't have to file a plan. They don't have to follow rules or regulation. They can put on 150 pounds of nitrogen, or they can put on 300 pounds. Nothing to stop that."

"And we're by no means accusing any farmer of over-applying anything, but the point is crop farmers have to fertilize their soil after harvest with something," Sorenson said. "Manure is regulated. And not only is it regulated, but it's many many soil scientists will tell you it's better for water quality, because it improves the health of the soil."

Some farmers monitor their own water quality, and have data to prove the quality of their groundwater has improved, Hunt said, since they better control their fertilizer use.

At the supervisors' meeting several residents suggested the confinements so close to Duncombe would drive down property values, and that no one would want to live there.

Iowa Select representatives said livestock farming, such as hog confinements, help keep people in Iowa.

"I grew up in small rural Iowa," Hunt said. "If it wasn't for the livestock or the ag side of it, there's not a lot else to keep young Iowans here. I see so many times, ... these families are adding this barn or this hog facility to keep a son or daughter on the farm. You take all that out, there's not enough to keep that second generation on the farm."

Although the farm is less than one mile from the city limits of Duncombe, it's actually more than one mile from the nearest residence in the town, Pliner said.

That's more than double the distance required by law, Hunt said.


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