Posts Tagged ‘Google Earth’

Manure Management: New Mexico’s Dairy Row

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

From today’s Morning Edition on NPR:

Farms dispose of waste in two ways.

First, workers hose the muck off the concrete floor of a milking barn, and it flows into a plastic- or clay-lined lagoon where the liquid evaporates.

Second, waste from the feedlot where the cows live is collected and used as fertilizer for grain crops.

But the New Mexico Environment Department reports that two-thirds of the state’s 150 dairies are contaminating groundwater with excess nitrogen from cattle excrement. Either the lagoons are leaking, or manure is being applied too heavily on farmland.

On Dairy Row along Interstate 10 between Las Cruces, N.M., and El Paso, Texas, more than 30,000 cows live in 11 farms located one after the other.

In the past four years, the EPA has repeatedly cited these dairies for violating the Clean Water Act because manure-laced stormwater was washing into tributaries of the Rio Grande.


Everyday, an average cow produces six to seven gallons of milk and 18 gallons of manure. New Mexico has 300,000 milk cows. That totals 5.4 million gallons of manure in the state every day. It’s enough to fill up nine Olympic-size pools. Every single day.

That’s a lot of poo, eh?


CAFO-Spotting with Google Earth

September 2, 2009 1 comment


How I spent my Tuesday morning… poking around on Google Earth to find out if I could see CAFO cows from space.

Well, I couldn’t get close enough resolution to see the spots on the cows, but I found that it is pretty easy to spot CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). The telltale signs are the gridlike feedlots and the brown “lakes”, which I think are actually poo-lagoons! All that manure has to go somewhere. It must smell lovely in one of the nearby towns.

These CAFOs are somewhere in west Texas. I don’t know anything about them, except that those little dots in the grids are probably cows. I just thought it would be interesting to see how much acreage is devoted to CAFOs.

CAFO #1 (same as above)