Swine manure composting is promising

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URBANA, Ill. – A study to determine if composting is a feasible method for disposing of 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.

The project on swine odor and waste management was funded by the State of Illinois through the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research.

Now available. “Practical and economical applications of composting technology are now available to farmers,” said Paul Walker, a professor of animal science at Indiana State.

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.

In-depth look. 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.”

Solid and liquid. 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.”

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