14 Truth #2 Illinois Livestock Farms are Environmentally Sustainable LIVESTOCK FARMS ARE PART OF AN ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE SYSTEM Sustainability is a term that is used in today’s society by many different groups. Sustainability, as it relates to livestock production, is not just a buzz word, but rather a way of life and doing business for today’s livestock farmers. Sustainability is a continuous journey carried out by each generation of livestock farmers who are responsible for raising and supplying food to consumers in the United States and around the world. Today’s livestock farmers are strong examples of true environmental stewards. They have a deep love and appreciation for the land because it, in turn, supports their families. These hard-working people are dedicated to caring for the resources entrusted to them, and they also know first-hand that caring for the environment protects their way of life for future generations. LIVESTOCK MANURE IS A VALUABLE RESOURCE One of the beneficial by-products of livestock production is manure, which has been used as a fertilizer source for thousands of years. Over the decades, farmers have become more efficient and sophisticated in their collection and containment of manure. Modern livestock farms are designed and operated to have zero discharge of manure into the environment. In Illinois, lagoons continue to be phased out as a common manure storage practice, with the majority of livestock farms now using concrete pits under roofs or storage tanks designed by professional engineers and built according to government-approved construction standards. (See fig. 9.) Manure is contained and collected until it is applied as an organic fertilizer at rates based on the nutrient needs of the crops. Liquid manure is often injected 6-8 inches into the soil to prevent runoff, minimize odor and place nutrients in the root zone of the crops. Livestock manure reduces the amount of commercial fertilizer farmers apply to their crops, saving them money and increasing their profitability. Farmers utilize manure management plans to balance the nutrients in the manure with the nutrient needs of the crop and the current nutrients in the soil providing a very sustainable system. sustainability suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee/ n. meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. – United Nations REAL WORLD “ We have utilized manure from our beef farm to improve the health of our soils and increase our crop production. There’s no better complete fertilizer source available.” – Lynn Martz, beef producer in DeKalb County Lynn Martz and her husband Mike.