Manure is a valuable nutrient source that supplies both macro- and micro- nutrients for plant uptake. It also increases soil organic matter which leads to better soil structure, water holding capacity, and microbial activity. There are sustainable benefits to using composted manure over raw manure, such as decreased transportation costs, fewer pathogens and weed seeds, reduced nutrient pollution, less odor, and increased organic nitrogen content. However, although composting manure is a common practice in some regions, it is only recently gaining popularity in Minnesota and North Dakota.
This project, “Promoting manure composting for livestock operations,” will increase the understanding and prevalence of manure composting in the north-central region. It will educate and demonstrate how to sustainably compost manure and the economic, environmental, and societal benefits of doing so. This program will be open to anyone interested in learning more about composting, but the target audience is livestock producers with solid manure – such as beef, dairy, turkey, and horse – who are interested in composting.
Overall, this educational project will increase farmers’ awareness and knowledge of composting manure in the north central region, which will lead to increased adoption of the practice. Attendees of this program will learn about composting manure through classroom activities and lectures, hands-on demonstrations and examples, and farmer testimonials. In the classroom, interactive lectures will increase awareness of the immense value of composting manure, and the unique challenges and opportunities of composting manure in the north-central region. Attendees will gain practical and applied understanding of the composting process from a panel of farmers who successfully compost manure. The hands-on portion of the program will demonstrate the skills of day-to-day compost management and how to identify and correct problems within a compost pile. The articles, videos, and outreach generated from this program will spread this knowledge and information to the greater north-central region.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project will educate more than 100 Minnesota and North Dakota livestock producers through two annual workshops over two years on the sustainable processes and benefits of composting manure. Outcomes will include increased knowledge of how composting is sustainably done in northern climates, awareness of the benefits of composting, hands-on understanding of the components required for successful composting, and the skills to identify and correct problems within a compost pile. This project will also increase the number of producers in Minnesota and North Dakota exploring the option of composting on their own farm, and applying composted rather than raw manure.