At Smithfield’s Hog Production Division, we’re committed to environmental stewardship. By partnering with environmental experts we are able to solve environmental challenges, improve our operations and make a positive impact.
One example of such a partnership is with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to assist with their Cooperative Upland-habitat Restoration and Enhancement (CURE) program.
Through the CURE program, we have established field borders on over 40,000 acres of our North Carolina property where naturally occurring vegetation is allowed to grow. These buffers provide much needed habitat for rabbits and quail, as well as other birds of high conservation concern. The field borders protect waterways by slowing or preventing runoff and herbicide drift, absorbing nutrients and keeping agricultural equipment further away from the water.
To show that water quality and habitat for small game and other species is improved through the use of these borders, we’ve opened up one of our largest farms, the Ammon Complex in North Carolina as a showcase and training area for employees and other agricultural producers and agencies.
While it is too early in the program to determine trends, we do know that:
- Winter songbird densities show 41 birds/ha in crop fields converted to native grasses versus three birds/ha in regular crop fields in 2007.
- Spring songbirds that use grass and shrub habitats are recorded at a much higher rate than in nearby Bird Breeding Survey (BBS) routes.
- Summer quail routes and fall covey counts show a stable quail population, which we hope to see increase as CURE habitat management practices have time to take effect.
Funding for the Ammon CURE Project is provided by an Environmental Enhancement Grant from the North Carolina Department of Justice with assistance from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and Smithfield’s Hog Production Division.