Composting Recommendations and Marketing Evaluation for Livestock Operations in Cold Semi-Arid Environments

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $49,315.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Bass
Montana State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: general animal production
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Soil Management: composting

    Proposal summary:

    Many farming operations in Montana have a nutrient imbalance, producing more manure than is needed for the site’s own crops. This can have a detrimental effect on the quality of ground and surface water. These same operations also face problems of economically disposing of animal carcasses without contaminating water or spreading disease. Many producers facing these problems are looking for more information on marketing their excess manure and turning animal carcasses into compost. This project will evaluate the ability of producers at two sites to market manure compost as a value-added product from their animal feeding operations, which may improve the nutrient balance in each location. It will also be determined if composting mortalities is a viable alternative to burial or abandonment and if it reduces risks to water quality in the area.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1) Compost manure and mortality for one season Track temperatures, time to reach benchmark temperatures and nutrient content; observe if run-off occurs from the composting site after storm events; and evaluate finished product quality (nutrient analysis and end user evaluation) at two sites, Bozeman and Havre. 2) Examine markets Allow producers to sell, trade or give away compost; document end users, price paid per unit of material and end user opinion of quality. 3) Produce MontGuide Extension publications on manure and mortality composting, including guidance and case studies. a) Manure composting b) Mortality compost supplement 4) Conduct two educational events (one at each site), ie: demo/field day. 5) Submit professional papers to SARE, CSREES Water Quality and Western Section American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) conferences. Assume presentations at these meetings to disseminate information to other educators and technical service providers.

    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.