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Dirty Job Essential to Iowa Hog Industry

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Iowa - The harvest is winding down, but another part of Iowa agriculture is in full swing.

Members of the Iowa Commercial Nutrient Applicators Association are hard at work. The more traditional name for this job would be manure hauling.

Each fall, and part of the spring season a small army of tractors pulling tanks pump Iowa’s hog barns to remove the manure. Kevin Westaby was the founding member and first President of the Iowa Commercial Nutrient Applicators Association. He said his company and the applicators all work with the DNR to comply with rules, and each farmers DNR-sanctioned manure management plan.

He started his business, KGL Enterprises in Alexander, in 1992. At that time farmers just needed to remove the waste from the pits of hog barns. Now, the waste is regarded as a valuable resource of fertilizer to be knifed into the soil.

“The main thing is the industry has changed we hear a lot of negative stuff bout agriculture and pollution, and we’re trying to do stuff right, we follow the rules, we try to follow the law,” said Westaby.

Westaby and his associates visited a farm in Franklin County with over a million gallons of hog waste to be pumped, and applied to a field around two miles away. Six large tractors were used,each pulling a 9,000 gallon tank. To buy rigs like these today would run around $350,000 each, so it is not a small investment.

Westaby has been pumping for the same group of customers for years. He bills for his work by the gallon pumped.

'We are regulated by the DNR every year all our employees have to go through a three hour training,’ said Westaby.