Industrialized Animal Production—A Major Source of Nutrient and Microbial Pollution to Aquatic Ecosystems
- Cite this article as:
- Mallin, M.A. & Cahoon, L.B. Population and Environment (2003) 24: 369. doi:10.1023/A:1023690824045
- 1.3k Downloads
Livestock production has undergone massive industrialization in recent decades. Nationwide, millions of swine, poultry, and cattle are raised and fed in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) owned by large, vertically integrated producer corporations. The amount of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in animal manure produced by CAFOs is enormous. For example, on the North Carolina Coastal Plain alone an estimated 124,000 metric tons of nitrogen and 29,000 metric tons of phosphorus are generated annually by livestock. CAFO wastes are largely either spread on fields as dry litter or pumped into waste lagoons and sprayed as liquid onto fields. Large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus enter the environment through runoff, percolation into groundwater, and volatilization of ammonia. Many CAFOs are located in nutrient-sensitive watersheds where the wastes contribute to the eutrophication of streams, rivers, and estuaries. There is as yet no comprehensive Federal policy in place to protect the environment and human health from CAFO generated pollutants.