Yahara Pride Farms Inc. (YPF) will expand the headland stacking/composting project in the Yahara Watershed. The primary environmental benefit of composting is reducing the acreage of winter-applied manure (highly vulnerable to runoff), apply a lower soluble phosphorus (P) product and redistribute manure from high P fields to fields that are deficient. YPF is working with 11 farms and will calculate the reductions in P based on not applying manure during the critical runoff period. This project will build upon stronger databases to better evaluate changes in nutrient availability and the risk of loss. The study has multiple collaborators including Yahara WINS, Dane County, Clean Lakes Association and U.W. Madison Soils Department. The funding from SARE will support the implementation of an outreach and education program, providing the lessons learned from this project throughout the Yahara Watershed and to other watersheds. In collaboration with this project, Endres Berryridge Farms will provide a compost turner, and will offer interested farmers, timely turning of composted windrows. The goal is to encourage additional farms to begin composting manure. YPF will also test the completed compost material for nutrient value including water-soluble P levels (fraction of P that is most easily lost to the environment).
Project objectives from proposal:
The study to determine the benefits of composting solid manure verses spreading it directly on the field will begin in 2018. This grant supports a complimentary effort for an outreach and education program that:
- Increase farmer’s understanding of the negative impacts of spreading pack manure on melting snow (in and around the watershed);
- Increase the knowledge of the benefits to composting bedded pack manure;
- Promote the economics of composting verses spreading on snow;
- Provide information on composting to farmers in other watersheds; and,
- Share findings through field days, website and social media and conference presentations.