I raise purebred Black Angus beef cattle (45 cows and young cattle) on 240 acres. I rent another 100 acres for pasture and cropping. The family operation has changed since the four children are married. I raise spelt, buckwheat, triticale, and clover/grass hay. I also compost my animal manure and practice rotational grazing.
I have composted my animal manure for the past five year. I use plow down crops for plant nutrients and weed control. I have never used herbicides or pesticides.
Other producers or businesspeople that assisted with the project:
Erb Lumber Company – donated materials for site signs
Jack Matthias – local businessman who donated equipment for site preparation
Village of Hillman – cleared Hillman site of brush and grass
Alpena Airport – helped prepare the Alpena site
Don Cordes – diary farmer who donated manure to be composted; also assisted with site preparation
George Perkins – greenhouse gardener who assisted in site preparation and many other details
Scott Peshick – gardener who assisted in site preparation
Ralph Wagenshutz – gardener who assisted in site preparation
Matt Noffze – dairy farmer assisting in site preparation
Fred McEwen – farmer who donated time to the site
Public Agency Personnel who provided assistance:
Ervin Simi, Soil Conservation Service – promoted grant and made meeting room available.
Gary Rusen, Alpena County Administrator – made manure from Alpena County fairgrounds available
John Durling, Russ LaRowe, Chris Lufton (all members of Michigan Agricultural Stewardship Association) – gave much counsel and support.
Paul Wegmeyer and Marilyn Wallen, Alpena County Co-operative Extension Service – assisted in many ways, promotion, counsel, contacts and donation of time.
Garnet Tripp, Mayor of Hillman – made Hillman site available; also helped with promotion
Bill Bartow, Alpena Ag/Science teacher and FFA advisor – included composting in this teaching program
Kim Sumerix, Hillman Ag/Science teacher and FFA advisor – provided site assistance through his ag/science students for PALS program
FFA students – Alpena, garden project and provided lunch at Composting Field Day
Hillman, site work and garden preparation for PALS program
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
The main barrier in implementing composing is the lack of knowledge on the part of the producer as to alternative methods in soil management and the utilization and benefits of composting materials.
The goal of this project was to educate producers by demonstrating the value of sustainable agriculture practices.
The method used to achieve our goals was to demonstrate composting. The two sites we selected were 24 miles apart. The Alpena’s site was located along side a major highway and was across form the county airport. This gave the project good visibility by the public. The Hillman site was located on Village-owned property in the Industrial Park area. Both sites were used in a similar manner.
After notification that we would receive the grant, fall preparation of the sites were completed for spring planting. The crops grown on the sites were both a grain crop and a vegetable crop with and without the use of composting. The compost used was from 1993 animal wastes.
Both sites had collection areas for leaves and grass. Several types of bins and piles were used to show composting at the lawn and garden level.
Composting of animal manure was done at the Hillman site. Approximately 25 tons of manure was composted by turning with a Wildcat Turner. One-half of the manure was covered with a felt cover to see the effects of precipitation on the quality of the compost. The felt cover enables air to pass through, but not precipitation.
The Alpena site obtained the fairground waste in September and about 150 tons of manure were composted. A portion of the manure windrows were covered with a felt cover. Each site was turned 3 times.
Some positive “spin-off” from this project is that the Hillman site will be used in the Federal PALS (Partners for Active Learning Support) program. The PALS program matches high school students as mentors with elementary students. This involves the same Hillman High School FFA students who were involved with our composting project. They will be involved in a PALS garden project at our composting site this next year (using some of the compost as seen in the photo Addendum). There are plans for this to be an on-going PALS project. In addition, a community garden is to be started this next year at the Hillman composting site.
The long term benefits from the Alpena site will be a continuation of the composting of the animal wastes from the county fair grounds. In turn, the compost is to be used on the Alpena High School Ag/Science department fields located next to the site.
Another “spin-off” from the grant is that the Homemaker/Parent Education Program (run by the Co-operative Extension Service) will use the site for garden projects with some 27 families in the program.
The composting project included Alpena County as well as Montmorency County. The two newspapers serving these two counties were used to announce the project as well as keep people updated (with articles and photos) through the year.
The Co-operative Extension Service also included information about the project in their newsletters. The Soil Conservation Service included the composting project in its annual report.
I also gave a presentation about the composting project to the Ag/Science classes in the Hillman and Alpena school systems.
The field day held on October 22, 1994 was covered by the local TV station and information on the project was available to those attending. The photos and slides which were taken during this project will be used in the future.
[Editor’s note: There are attachments (i.e. photos, compost nutrient test etc.) that could not be posted online. If you would like to see these please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-529-1342. Thanks]