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Compost: A Potential Value-Added Product for Dairy Operations

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The objective of this study was to evaluate the composting potential of various bedding materials that were previously used in experimental compost bedded packs for dairy cows. Each material was placed in windrows (1.8 m high, 9.1 m long, and 2.3 m wide) from April 2007 to September 2007 and managed as needed to promote composting. Materials included: sawdust (SD) (control), corn cobs (CC), wood chip fines/sawdust mix (WC/SD), soybean straw (SS), wood chip fines/soybean straw mix (WC/SS), and soybean straw/sawdust mix (SS/SD). Replicated samples were taken weekly and analyzed for dry matter (DM). Carbon:nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio), pH, total C, total N, NH4-N, and NO3-N were measured once monthly. Temperature was measured twice weekly. Total P, total K, and EC were measured at the beginning and end of the composting period. Windrow temperatures exceeded 55°C for 10 to 96 days, and coliform populations were reduced from 10(6) or 10(7) to 500 cfu/mL or fewer in all materials. CC, SS/WC, WC/SS, and SS were the only materials that decreased (P < 0.05) in moisture content from day 0 to day 138. Materials were similar when comparing day 0 and day 138 for NH 4 -N, total N, and inorganic N concentrations. SS, SS/SD, WC/SS, and WC/SD all decreased in total C and C:N ratio (P < 0.05) from day 0 to day 138. C:N ratios were below 20:1 at the end of the composting period, with the exception of SD and WC/SD. Based on these results, all materials composted during the time period and would potentially work as a soil amendment/mulch if proper composting takes place.
Shane, E.M. , Endres, M.I. , Russelle, M.P. , Rosen, C.J. , Johnson, D.G.
Includes references
Applied engineering in agriculture 2011, v. 27, no. 2
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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