Manure Composting Video Series

An online video series for producers who want to learn more about composting manure.

Many farms, especially organic farms, use compost to enhance soil fertility. Composting involves combining available organic wastes and managing them so that microbes in the compost can break down the material, turning it into organic matter. Compost can be a helpful, organic, soil amendment. Most organic materials can be composted and this can be a win-win opportunity for producers with livestock manure.

Composting manures is becoming an increasingly popular option for farmers. By composting their manure, they can reduce the amount of material they have to spread, stabilize the nutrients in the manure, and reduce manure odors.

"Manure is a valuable nutrient source that supplies both macro-and micro-nutrients for plant uptake," said Chryseis Modderman, University of Minnesota Crops Extension Educator and manure management specialist. "It also increases soil organic matter which leads to better soil structure, water holding capacity, and microbial activity. There are sustainable benefits to using composted manure over raw manure, such as decreased transportation costs, fewer pathogens, and weed seeds, reduced nutrient pollution, less odor, and increased organic nitrogen content. However, although composting manure is a common practice in some regions, it is only recently gaining popularity in Minnesota and North Dakota."

Modderman works with producers in Minnesota and North Dakota who are exploring the option of composting manure on their own farms and applying composted rather than raw manure. Modderman, in conjunction with North Dakota State University Extension, hosted manure composting workshops with support from a SARE grant in 2020 and 2021. As part of the 2-day workshops, they created a manure composting video series. Workshop registrants were able to view the videos at their leisure. These videos included lectures, applied composting procedures, interviews with the producer cooperators and tours of their operations, and an interactive diagnostic video where participants identified compost problems and made decisions on how to correct them. One week after the videos were released, a live online discussion was held with the producer panel to answer questions and discuss the topics outlined in the videos.

"I appreciated that videos were individual by topic area, short, and focused," said a workshop participant. "That allowed me to watch what was relevant and fit it into my day more easily.”

Dig Deeper

Other manure composting materials developed through the grant are listed below.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant:

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.