Mike Regans, Areas Specialized Agent of the Neuse Education Team, is helping hog producers make the grade. Through a series of workshops and with help from a new record-keeping notebook, Regans is enabling hog producers to keep more accurate records for hog operation - a key issue in the Neuse River Basin today.

It all started last fall when the Greene County Livestock Association asked Regans to develop a record book that would satisfy inspectors when they came to the farm. Hog farmers are required by North Carolina law to keep these records. Senate Bill 1217 requires two inspections of hog operations annually, one by the Division of Water Quality (DWQ) and one by the Division of Soil and Water (DSW). These two agencies check hog producers' records to see if they are complying with the law.

"They came to me because part of my job is to stay current
regans.jpg (16891 bytes) on regulations," Regans says. In addition to his timely knowledge of legislative proceedings, Regans had the technical expertise to make it happen.

Sections in the book include: waste application records, farm field maps, certified waste management plan, waste sample analysis, annual soil analysis report and an emergency action plan.

The book, which has become an integral part of his record-keeping training with farmers, is unique in that the back cover of each record book has emergency phone numbers. These numbers are tailored to the farmer's county whose using it. "The farmers appreciate these workshops and the notebook," Regans says. "One farmer even said we should have the workshops on a routine basin to keep people updated on the procedures." 

Regans' cluster of counties -Greene, Lenior, Pitt, and Wayne - each have farmers using the record book. The book may serve as a model for other counties in the Neuse River Basin. Regans has even suggested that these workshops count toward the six hours needed for recertification needed by hog farmers. (Every producer or operator that goes through the certification, mandated by Senate Bill 1217, has to receive six hours of recertification training every three years.)

"These workshops will continue and as the regulations change we will keep the producers informed," Regans says. He says he will amend the record book and update the workshops as needed.

Potential Benefits to the Neuse Basin

These workshops and record-keeping books will enable operators to follow their waste utilization plan more effectively. This will be achieved by keeping track of 1) the amount of plant-available Nitrogen to cropland at agronomic rates and 2) timing of operation. These items are important because the law states that lagoon effluent must be applied to an actively growing crop, a crop which will break dormancy within 30 days, or to land which will be planted with a crop within 30 days. The bottom line - Regans' efforts will help ensure that waste is applied at the optimum time for plant growth with minimal environmental impact.

Andy Fisher

The hat trick.
In hockey the term means that a player scores three times in one match. In the world of academia it can me three college degrees.

Enter Bill Hunt - the new urban nonpoint source pollution member of the Neuse Education Team. With two Bachelor Degrees, one in Civil Engineering, the other in Economics, and a Masters Degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Hunt brings a wealth of resources to combat the problems plaguing the Neuse River.

"I feel that this opportunity offers much potential for me to use my background. I can not think of another job where I could weave my schooling so effectively in addressing real-world problems," Hunt says.

Hunt will be dealing with issues such as water transport (how it gets from point A to B), dam and wetland design, and divengent or path-altering devises such as canals and swales.

Hunt hopes to lend his technical expertise to the Neuse Education Team to help them better educate citizens about water quality issues. "Education is crucial in dealing with these issues.Whenever we can give the average citizen useful information, we are that much closer to involving them in solutions," Hunt says.

bhphoto.jpg (9027 bytes)Hunt has two main goals in working with the Neuse Education Team: developing a demonstration project in each agent's territory and showing the agents hands-on the how and why it works. Hunt also wants to work with the team in developing and nurturing urban affairs contacts by creating a more targeted approach in delivering education.

"I want to include municipal leaders, city planners, and engineers," Hunt says.

Hunt is very excited about joining the Neuse Education Team and feels fortunate to work with such quality people. "They're a bunch of problem solvers. I'm thankful to be working with this caliber of individuals."

Andy Fisher

(Note: Hunt will begin a regular column in the next edition of the NeuseLetter.)

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