Lack of Suitable Sites Limit Farmers’ Ability to Compost Cattle Manure

Aug 11, 2010 | Corporate Member News

Dr. Katherine Buckley – Agriculture Canada

University News for August 11, 2010

A researcher with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says one of the main factors limiting the ability of ranchers to compost cattle manure is the difficulty in securing a suitable composting site.

The feedstock for composting manure is usually manure from a feedlot or bedded system.

Making composted manure was among the topics discussed last month when the National Centre for Livestock and the Environment and Richardson International hosted a soil and manure management field workshop.

Dr. Katherine Buckley, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and an adjunct professor with the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, says there are large composting operations in almost every province handling municipal solid wastes, livestock manure and various food wastes but composting is pretty much in its infancy in Manitoba’s livestock industry. 

Clip-Dr. Katherine Buckley-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:

The main objectives of composting is to, first of all, have a site that’s suitable for composting and that usually requires some slope to get good drainage.

You also have to be concerned about nutrient leaching or nutrient run-off into surrounding water bodies or leaching through the soil so it’s important to have an all-weather site that you can traffic all the time and it has to have a fairly impermeable surface so that you don’t get any downward movement of nutrients.

That is actually a big stumbling block to composting is having a suitable site.

Although farmers are allowed to compost out in the field for one season, it’s very difficult to take equipment that is suited to turning compost out into the field because it generally requires a good solid surface and also you’re creating compaction in your field.

You can generate a lot of damage and there will be times when you can’t get into the field to turn your compost so I would say that the composting site is the biggest barrier to composting. 

Dr. Buckley says part of challenge has been the lack of an available reliable market.

She says because we don’t have a lot of compost that’s of sufficient quality, market development has been difficult.

For UniversityNews.Org, I’m Bruce Cochrane. 

*University News is a presentation of the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agricultural & Food Sciences, to learn more click here.

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