IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa is famously known for its livestock and farming industry. This leads to another claim to fame, according to calculations done by a University of Iowa research engineer, which some might say stinks: the state produces more fecal matter, per square mile, than any other in the country.
Iowa placed first on the list, followed by Delaware, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania.
Chris Jones, a research engineer in the water quality monitoring and research division at the University of Iowa's IIHR Hydroscience & Engineering department, posted the results of his calculations on his blog last week. It determined the total waste produced by humans and livestock animals divided by the total land area of a state.
Iowa's humans and livestock produce as much fecal waste per square mile as a human population density of 2979 people. This is just a little bit over the population density of Iowa City, but over the entire land mass of Iowa, according to Jones.
It was a follow-up to a previous blog entry that attempted to quantify Iowa's "real population," which was based on putting equivalent human population numbers on the state's various livestock groups based on the amount of fecal matter they produced to determine a "fecal equivalent population." For example, Iowa's hog population of around 20-24 million head produce the same amount of poop as 83.7 million people, according to Jones' calculations.
His original blog post put Iowa's 'real population" at around 134 million people, a number that would make it the 10th most populous country in the world. More recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture put the figure at around 168 million.
Jones' blog post was written in the context of his work in water quality research, which is highly affected by runoff from livestock operations in Iowa.