Composting For Disposal Of Animal Waste

Ron O'Hanlon  |   February 16, 2004

I recently attended a "how to" meeting for "on-farm composting" of manure and dead animals. Sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (state regulatory agency), the meeting highlighted the latest research on composting by Kansas State University, the Kansas Livestock Association and Franklin Haywood of pH Environmental, LLC.

Composting is a biological process that converts heterogeneous organic matter (manure, dead animals, plant material, etc.) into a more homogeneous, humus-like material. As soon as the appropriate materials are piled together, microorganisms almost immediately begin to consume the oxygen and the temperature within the organic pile increases rapidly to 120-140 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature is needed for a period of time to eliminate any harmful pathogens, weeds, diseases and insects and aid in the decomposition of the waste material and elimination of the odor. After the process is completed (90 to 120 days) with proper maintenance and temperature monitoring, the waste material is ready as a dark brown to black earthy smelling organic material for land application. It has the look and feel of humus or peat material that a person can buy at the garden supply retailer.

Compost is not considered a fertilizer, but as a soil amendment that will increase organic matter and improve the overall structure of the soil. It does contain a stable form of nitrogen that is less likely to leach into the water supplies. From an environmental point of view, it has many benefits, but farmers and producers will determine over time whether there are real economic benefits to it's use for crop production.

The author does not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in this feature, although it is believed to be accurate. The author assumes no liability or responsibility for direct or indirect, special, consequential or incidental damages or for any other damages relating or arising out of any action taken as a result of information or advice contained in this report. The author disclaims any express or implied liability or responsibility for any action taken, which is solely at the liability of and responsibility of the user.

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Turtle Lake ND  |  March, 26, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Has any research been done on the size of the feeding area as to the amount of waste that is gathered to be composted. Example 35 cow/calf ( Fall calf) pair fed in an area of say 150 feet X 200 feet (30,000 sq ft or 857 sq ft per cow) compared to a lot that was 300 feet X 200 feet ( 60,000 sq ft or 1714 sq ft per cow.

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