A two-year manure composting study project was completed in 2019. This project, funded jointly by Yahara WINS, Dane County, Clean Lakes Alliance and Yahara Pride Farms, had a goal of making both manure storage and transportation more feasible for farmers.
Raw manure is high in water, which means manure storage pits fill quickly and that it’s heavy to transport. If manure pits fill up during the winter, the farmer has to remove manure and spread it on snow or frozen ground, which can lead to phosphorus runoff in the spring.
Timing is everything when it comes to keeping phosphorus on the ground, so finding a way to increase manure storage is a necessary part of the solution. Composting manure, which reduces manure volume and frees up storage space, is one possible answer to this problem. In this project, farmers were able to test out manure composting to see how it could work on their farms year-round. Project funding allowed several local farmers to test out the equipment necessary for composting.
This practice proved popular among local farmers and increased signups for Yahara Pride’s cost-share program. The outcome of this project is promising not only because it showed that composting manure works, but that there is a high demand among farmers to increase implementation across the watershed.