Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG)
Pasture-raised, outdoor hog production has increased in popularity among North Carolina producers seeking to diversify and add value to their farming operations. Pasture raised hogs are often a first choice (after poultry) on many small farms because they can be raised on small acreages, grow quickly, and offer a variety marketable products. But hogs pose a special set of problems when raised on pasture. First, they love to root, which destroys plants and exposes the soil to the elements. Second, they compact the soil which decreases rainwater infiltration and disrupts the soil profile making it harder for plants to grow. Without proper BMPs (Best Management Practices) hogs pose a threat to our state’s soil and water resources.
In 2007, CEFS’ collaborators at NCSU were awarded a grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to study the impacts of pasture raised hogs and determine what BMPs work best at curbing environmental damage. This project demonstrates and evaluates a comprehensive set of innovative conservation practices on outdoor hog production systems throughout three distinct regions of the State—the Mountains, Piedmont and Coastal Plain—that represent major production characteristics and soil types throughout the Southeast. NC Choices manages five demonstration sites at farms across North Carolina where BMPs can be implemented, evaluated, and demonstrated. Each farm demonstrates a different approach to conservation management. To learn more about the 5 demonstration farms, click here.
With support from CIG and USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, CEFS’s researchers are also implementing outdoor hog BMP trials at CEFS’ Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro, NC.