Composting Offers Promise

URBANA — A study to determine if composting is a feasible method for disposing swine manure has shown the process can work effectively, said an Illinois State University researcher whose work is part of a $6 million research project.
calendar icon 26 November 2003
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The project on swine odor and waste management was funded by the State of Illinois through the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).

"Practical and economical applications of composting technology are now available to farmers in Illinois," said Paul Walker, a professor of animal science at ISU.

Reports from several studies in the C-FAR initiative will be presented Dec. 11-12 at the University of Illinois Pork Industry Conference in Champaign. Those interested in attending or getting more information should contact Gilbert Hollis at (217) 333-0013, e-mail:

Walker noted that composting manure is a practical, economical, and environmentally safe way for pork producers to co-exist with increasing urban sprawl.

"Composting is an age-old practice of manure management whereby organic components of various waste streams are biologically decomposed under controlled conditions to form a stabilized state in which they can be safely handled, stored, or applied to land as a soil amendment," he explained.

He said that a brand-name compost has been developed that can be used by Illinois producers for value-added marketing of compost. An in-depth compost market analysis has been conducted for Illinois and is available to producers interested in developing a compost operation and marketing compost as a value-added product.

"Cost to compost depends on several factors," he explained. "The cost of production can range between $10 and $32 per ton. Prices for compost range between $10 per ton and $200 per ton depending on quality."

Walker's research indicated that solid and liquid swine manure can be composted with success and that composting can be used as a manure-management practice by small, medium, and large-scale operations. Corn and soybeans grown on soils amended with compost yield similarly to crops grown with inorganic fertilizer.

"For composted manure, there are a variety of consumer-market opportunities," he said. "This product could be aimed at home gardeners, landscapers, vegetable farmers, turf growers, golf courses and ornamental growers."

Source: ACES News - 25th September 2003

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