Loyd Ray Farms (LRF) is an 8,600-head feeder-to-finish swine operation located in Yadkinville, North Carolina. Traditional waste management systems on swine farms store waste in open-air lagoons that release methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. To reduce these greenhouse gas emissions, produce renewable energy, generate carbon offsets, reduce odor, and minimize the overall environmental impact of the swine farm, an innovative waste management system was installed at the farm.
The project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Duke University, Google Inc., and Duke Energy, and grants received from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation’s Lagoon Conversion Program. The system generates carbon offsets for Duke University, while all renewable energy credits (RECs) generated by the project are contracted to Duke Energy for their project partnership. The electricity generated is either used onsite by the swine-farm facilities, the innovative system, or is fed back into the grid.
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The impact of plant breeding and modern agricultural practices is reflected in soil health – and it isn’t looking good. In fact, scientists fear that an underground crisis threatens to undermine food production in the near future. Jos Raaijmakers, a microbiologist from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology suggests that the solution to this looming food and agricultural crisis can be gleaned from understanding ancient plant traits that had been lost through millennia of breeding.