Animal manure composting methods can be physical, biological, or chemical.
The objectives of manure treatment include reduction of manure volume, improvement of its applicability, and an increase in fertilizer value.
Many forms of treatment can be implemented and composting; the process of amending the soil to grow better crops goes back to prehistory.
Ancient Animal Manure Composting Methods
Manure composting dates back to at least the Stone Age using reclaimed organic material to farmed fields. Archaeological evidence suggests that these early farmers likely plowed and seeded compost heaps.
Composting and utilizing compost are helpful tools in nutrient management plans that, when appropriately managed, reduce the potential to pollute and benefit crops.
Scientists today understand the importance of mixing carbon and nitrogen products. Compost is a mixture of organic residues (manure, straw, etc.) that have been piled, mixed, and moistened to undergo (high heat 113 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit) decomposition.
Good animal manure composting methods requires the introduction of oxygen. This medium stimulates aerobic microorganisms that feed on the organic components and convert the piled organic material to stable nutrient-rich soil. Compost can be applied to agricultural fields as a fertilizer, added to improve soil structure, substituted for peat in horticulture and used as a microbial additive to increase enzyme activities.
Composting is a natural process of aerobic decomposition or fermentation of manure by microorganisms. The compost is rich in organic matter and can improve soil health.
Some of the benefits of composting include improved fertility, water-holding capacity, bulk density, and biological properties. A lower number of viable weed seeds in composted manure contribute to the reduction in the use of herbicides for weed control.
Composting can be useful in killing some pathogens in manure. It also leads to up to 50–60% of reduction in the volume and density of slurry, thereby making its transportation more energy-efficient than that of non-composted manure.
Surface and groundwater proximity is essential for compost site selection. The compost site needs to be in an area not prone to contamination of groundwater by leaching or where leachate can run off to surface water.
Animal manure composting methods should take place on an area that drains well but where runoff or leachate will not reach public waters of the State. The pad ideally should flow into a containment pond. The site must never go along surface waters of the country, on soil textures coarser than a sandy loam or within a flood plain.
Ideal areas are well-drained, have slopes of 2 to 4 percent, consist of concrete or packed soil or gravel, and drain into a containment pond. Windrows should be constructed parallel to the slope. Well-drained, slopes will prevent the windrow from blocking runoff and implement access to the pad. Slopes exceeding 6 percent may be prone to erosion and can cause pad issues.
Nutrient Management of Compost
Manure composts not only improve soil physical and chemical characteristics; they also are a good source of fertilizer for crop production. However, much of the nitrogen is tied up in complex organic compounds (immobilized) and is not immediately ready for plant uptake. Cropland soils and compost need to be tested for nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium tend to be the most limiting nutrients required by crops.
To sustain growth, plants must assimilate a variety of nutrients, most notably nitrogen and phosphorus. These nutrients are invariably present in animal manure. Manure thus serves as an effective fertilizer.
Keep in mind that many testing labs treat compost nutrient availability as if it were raw manure. That number is (approximately 50 percent nitrogen, 80 percent phosphorus and 90 percent potassium of the total nutrients are plant-available the first growing season. Compost nutrient availability is different, and producers need to account for the differences. This difference is due to the increased stability of compost.
Animal Manure Composting Methods Using Aeration
Turning manure is essential to composting manure. Turning compost incorporates oxygen into the system, homogenizes the pile and breaks up clumps. Mixing allows more contact of slurry with microbes. Producers have various ways to turn the collection. The two most common methods for turning compost are with a windrow turner or bucket tractor. Turners may be self-propelled or attached to a tractor or skid steer. Turners mix the compost by an auger, rotary drum with flails or an elevating conveyor. Some turners require power from the attached implement, while others are self-powered.
Manure must be adequately managed to be composted properly. Carbon/nitrogen ratios should be about 30-to-1, moisture content should be around 50 percent, and air needs to be incorporated routinely by turning. This medium ensures that the pile will heat and convert to compost effectively.
Animal Manure Composting Methods Using Calibrated Spreaders
Compost should be applied with a calibrated spreader. This method ensures that the proper amount of nutrients is used and also lessens the chance of polluting. Manure spreaders can be calibrated in various ways. However, if manure is applied to the soil at a rate, which exceeds plant assimilation, a build-up of nutrients can occur. Such nutrients, which include nitrogen, phosphorus, and minerals, can cause dangerous pollution.
Instead of viewing manure as a waste, producers can begin to see it as a product that can be substituted for commercial fertilizer and as an economic resource. Using sound animal manure composting methods is a useful management tool. Composting reduces manure volume, kills pathogens and weed seeds, and also improves soil health and fertility.
Animal waste management strategies adopted should efficiently mitigate the negative impact of manure on the environment and the general public. Many benefits are derivable from sustainable manure management.
Earthlinc Environmental Solutions, a division of RJD Green Inc. was formed to bring forward green applied technologies and offer environmental services with a focus in North America.
Our first acquisition, Animal Waste Management, is a patented technology used for waste processing on commercial chicken and hogs farms. The University of Arkansas and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources supported development.
The technology addresses animal waste management strategies for regional, national, and international environmental problems of commercial poultry and hog industries. The technology controls the liquid, solid, and gas waste generated. The process is ultimately creating an odorless, clean, bacteria-free by-product that can be utilized for animal feed filler while allowing the water to re-used as groundwater on the farm. The process improves the farm’s productivity and competitively priced with the current expense of handling waste removal.
Earthlinc Environmental Solutions strives to produce healthy profits from lower-cost green technologies that can develop significant revenue streams. The techniques are focused on improving the air, land, and water environments.
RJD Green has accrued patented technologies and short-term consulting contracts and joint-venture relationships. RJD Green Inc. remains active in the acquisition search of new technology that addresses environmental issues.