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UConn Compost Facility

 

Benefits of Composting Compared with Spreading Raw Manure

Tom Morris

Department of Plant Science


Reduction in Odor

There is little to no odor when applying compost to agricultural land.  We will be able to eliminate most applications of manure to agricultural land when our compost facility is fully operational.

Reduction in Volume

Semi-solid manure, which is a mix of manure and sawdust, is reduced in volume by 40-50% after composting.  Our horse manure is an example of semi-solid manure.  Liquid manure, like the manure from our dairy cows, is typically reduced in volume by about 80% after composting.

Suppression of plant pathogens in the soil

Application of compost to soils has been shown to suppress plant pathogens in the soil.  There is noe vidence that application of manure to soils suppresses plant pathogens.




Reduction of weed seeds in manure

Composting substantially reduces the number of weed seeds in semi-solid manure.  We will compost semi-solid manure from our beef, horse, and chicken barns.  Fewer weeds in our corn fields should increase yields.

Reduction in soluble nutrients

Environmental benefits:  Composting manure reduces the soluble nutrient content of the manure to almost zero.  Soluble nitrogen in manure is easily leached to ground water and soluble phosphorus in manure easily runs off the soil surface to pollute streams, lakes, and ponds.  Application of compost to our agricultural fields will substantially reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus in leachate and runoff from the fields.

Economic benefits:  Conservation of soluble nutrients by composting will increase the fertilizer value of our manure and reduce the amount of fertilizer purchased by UConn.

Elimination of satellite stacking of manure and leaves

Semi-solid manure from our livestock barns and leaves from campus are stacked in remote satellite stacking locations.  This practice will be eliminated when our composting facility is completely operational.  Elimination of satellite stacking of manure and leaves will eliminate the potential for pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus loss from the stacks.


Other benefits include:

Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases

Watershed protection due to cleaner agricultural run-off

Excellent research opportunity with 200+ grants funded in the USDA Sustainable Agriculture program in the past 15 years for compost-related research

Valuable teaching tool for graduate and undergraduate education

Opportunities for use by extension offices for demonstrations and training of farmers, municipal employees, etc.

Demonstration of leadership in best agricultural practices and environmental responsibility

Cost savings from decreased purchase of mulch and fertilizer






 

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