Many farms, especially organic farms, use compost to build better soil. Composting involves managing organic waste so microbes can break down the material, turning it into compost. Most organic materials, like manure, can be composted. 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 waste, and reduce manure odors.
“Manure is a valuable nutrient source that supplies both macro and micronutrients 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. In addition, there are sustainable benefits o using composted manure over raw manure, such as decreased transportation costs, fewer pathogens, weed seeds, reduced nutrient pollution, less odor, and increased organic nitrogen content.”
Working with Mary Keena at North Dakota State University, Modderman is helping producers in Minnesota and North Dakota
as they explore the option of composting manure. They hosted manure composting workshops and created educational videos with support from a $50,000 NCR-SARE Research and Education grant. 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 decided 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.
View the manure composting videos:
- Welcome to the UMN-NDSU Online Manure Composting Workshop
- Basics of Composting
- Compost Site Selection
- Turning Compost Rows and Piles
- Calibrating a Compost or Manure Spreader
- Sampling Compost for Analysis
- Understanding Your Compost Sample Analysis
- Diagnostics - Troubleshooting Compost Issues
- Land Application Regulations
- Land Application Calculations
- Economics of Composting Manure - Part 1
- Economics of Composting Manure - Part 2
- Composting Producers and Their Operations
- Online Discussion
"I appreciated that videos were individual by topic area, short, and focused," said a one viewer. "That allowed me to watch what was relevant and fit it into my day more easily.”
Other manure composting materials developed through the grant are listed below.
- Manure Composting Quick Guide
- Four Factors for Successful Manure Composting
- Promoting Manure Composting for Livestock Operations: Public Value Statement
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.