Expanding Large-Scale Manure Composting Expertise in Illinois and Wisconsin

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $6,588.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Randy Fonner
Univ of IL Extension
Ellen Phillips
University of Illinois Extension
Dr. Ted Funk
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, swine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: manure management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, mentoring, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Soil Management: composting, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    The 2007 Census of Agriculture showed 79,841 horses in Illinois(IL) (85% increase since 2002 census, with 7 northeast IL having 23,000+ and Wisconsin(WI) with 102,004 horses, a 15% increase. In the 5 counties (Lake, McHenry, Kenosha, Walworth, Racine) making up the Bi-State Equine group, focus area for the Great Lakes Grant, there are 12,000 + horses. Most horse stables have limited or no access to fields or pastures to apply the manure, and some locations are so landlocked they do not even have space for a manure compost pile. Yet the horses remain, and the manure keeps coming. Often manure is put in dumpsters, which waste haulers retrieve on regular garbage routes that go to landfills, adding to the capacity challenges of those waste repositories. Due to high waste removal costs on some farms, manure is piled for long periods. Stacks become water quality hazards and smelly, fly-infested nuisances for neighbors. Between 2000 and 2008 the IL Environmental Protection Agency inspected 190 horse faclities. They found 108 manure stack violations, 7 intentional dumping violations, 11 field application violations and 43 feedlot runoff violations. WI has similar concerns.

    In response to these environmental concerns the Bi-State Equine Extension group received a 2010-2011 grant from the Great Lakes Regional Water Quality Program to set-up composting demonstration sites and conduct educational composting workshops primarily for horse manure and bedding materials in NE IL and SE WI.

    Our goal is to set up 2-3 demonstration sites in that area and work with WI Extension to set up 1-2 in SE WI. A minimum of six composting workshops will be held at the demonstration sites.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short term goals of the Bi-state Equine group are: (1) to increase the awareness and best management practices for composting of our target audience stable owners/ landscapers in NE IL and SE WI; (2) Composting workshop teaching curriculum will be developed including handouts for participants; (3) Short and Long-term participant evaluations will be established to measure change in practices; (4) We have already created a Small Farms Manure Management website with information about how to compost manure, rules and regulations, and what to do with finished compost; (5) Our Manure Share website is about 15 months old and has almost 50 people signed up looking for manure and approximately 120 looking to get rid of excess of manure or compost statewide; (6) We will be setting up a gateway Composting web page to promote the workshops, links to the Small Farms Manure Management web page composting information and Manure Share websites. Both websites will be heavily promoted to workshop participants, along with our new ManureCentral web page. Workshop materials will also be posted at the website.

    Longer term we would like to replicate this Bi-State Composting program and set up several composting demonstration sites elsewhere in the two states. Passage of Illinois SB-99 (composting rule changes) in the spring of 2009 has made it a little easier for facilities that compost landscape waste to compost manure and food waste allowing new opportunities for composting businesses.

    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.