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Mortality Composting In the Semi-Arid West
 

Mortality Composting In the Semi-Arid West

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For more: http://www.extension.org/67616 Proper management of animal mortalities has important implications for nutrient management, water quality, animal health, and farm/ranch family and public ...

For more: http://www.extension.org/67616 Proper management of animal mortalities has important implications for nutrient management, water quality, animal health, and farm/ranch family and public health. To best ensure human health and safety, reduce regulatory risks, and protect environmental resources, livestock producers should become familiar with best management practices (BMPs) for dealing with dead animals. Producers should also be aware of state laws related to proper disposal or processing of mortalities.

Mortality composting is an increasingly popular and viable alternative when compared to other disposal practices because of cost savings, bio-security benefits, and reduced environmental risks. Static mortality composting differs from traditional composting in both management intervals and carbon to nitrogen ratios. The objective of this workshop is to provide those who advise livestock producers with the knowledge, tools, and resources to develop a mortality management plan, with specific focus on the static composting option.

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  • Images: a cow placed in bin with saw dust during February in Havre Montana was reduced to a few barely identifiable bones by June. The compost pile maintained temperatures above 140 deg F, even while ambient air temp was well below zero.Add speakers names or whatever information you prefer. Insert presenting agency’s or institution’s logo. It is okay if the logo is already a collaborator listed above.
  • Image credit: Cornell SWMI
  • Photo credit: Texas Agrilife Extension
  • Image: saw dust base in hay-bale bin; ready for carcass.
  • Image: saw dust base in hay-bale bin; ready for carcass.
  • Tip: bins can reduce this footprint and conserve carbon material, especially for single mortalities.
  • Image credit: Cornell SWMI
  • Around 130 F most pathogens are destroyed. This graph shows actual temperatures at the 18 inch depth and 36 inch depth of a mature sized cow. Ambient temperatures in the environment were often below freezing. Havre, MT.
  • As mentioned, using carbon sources with 50% – 60% is ideal. This is “wet” enough to drive the process while still absorbing initial leaching from carcass
  • Image: full grown cow, exposed at 3 months in Havre, MT. Residual bones are visible. Turning and irrigation is recommended for this pile at this time.
  • A compost site should be located in a well-drained area (but not well drained soils) that is at least 3 to 4 feet above the high water table level, at least 300-500 feet from sensitive water resources (e.g., streams, ponds, wells, etc.), and that has adequate slope (1-3%) to allow proper drainage and prevent pooling of water.
  • A compost site should be located in a well-drained area (but not well drained soils) that is at least 3 to 4 feet above the high water table level, at least 300-500 feet from sensitive water resources (e.g., streams, ponds, wells, etc.), and that has adequate slope (1-3%) to allow proper drainage and prevent pooling of water.
  • Front end loader or skid steer loader – appropriate size for moving/placing carcassesProbe thermometer - $50 to $80 investment from ag supply companyWater source and hose – tank or well to irrigate materials or irrigate and finishScreen (optional) – hand-built to separate bones or large particles
  • Front end loader or skid steer loader – appropriate size for moving/placing carcassesProbe thermometer - $50 to $80 investment from ag supply companyWater source and hose – tank or well to irrigate materials or irrigate and finishScreen (optional) – hand-built to separate bones or large particles
  • Good success with silage, scraped manure or manure solids, and warm or active compost as core. Cover with inert, non- odorous carbon cap such as sawdust or straw.
  • Repeat of slide 2. Omit, or leave here at the end for a reminder.

Mortality Composting In the Semi-Arid West Mortality Composting In the Semi-Arid West Presentation Transcript

  • Waste-to-Worth ConferenceDenver ColoradoApril 3, 2013– 3:30PM MTN
  • Authors• Thomas Bass, Montana State University• David Colburn, NRCS, Sterling CO• Jessica Davis, Colorado State University• John Deering, Colorado State University• Michael Fisher, Colorado State University• Robert Flynn, New Mexico State University• Sarah Lupis, Colorado State University• Jay Norton, University of Wyoming• Nicolette Schauermann, Colorado State University
  • Editorial Team• Editors– Sarah Lupis, Colorado State University– Thomas Bass, Montana State University• Associate Editors– Jean Bonhotal, Cornell University– Julia Dafoe, Montana Agricultural ExperimentStation– Joshua Payne, Oklahoma State University
  • Today’s Speakers• Jessica Davis, PhD– Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences– Colorado State University• Michael Fisher, MS– Area Agent/County Director, Livestock Production– Colorado State University
  • Today’s Speakers• Thomas Bass, MS– Associate Extension Specialist, Animal and Range– Montana State University• John Deering, MS– Extension Specialist, Ag Econ and Business Mngt.– Colorado State University
  • Project ProductsThis project was funded by a grant fromthe Western Sustainable AgricultureResearch and Education Programhttp://wsare.usu.edu - 435.797.2257• Manual (English and Spanish)• Video• Budget & Decision Tool• PowerPoint Companion
  • MORTALITY MANAGEMENT• The purpose of proper mortality disposal is toprevent the spread of infectious, contagiousand communicable diseases and to protectair, water and soil quality.• Most states have laws through environmentalor agricultural authorities to regulate properanimal mortality disposal.
  • Illegal or Discouraged Option• Carcass Abandonment: likely illegal in moststates in the U.S.– Promotes:• extreme biological and disease hazard,• threats to water quality,• odors, flies, scavengers,rodents,• and visual pollutionCredit: Rilho – fotocommunity.com
  • Generally Accepted Options• Incineration: done in a properly engineereddevice with emission controls– consumes entire animal– high fuel consumption• Burning: primarily an emergency measure– difficult to maintain flame and temperature– difficult to consume animal– uncontrolled emissions
  • Generally Accepted Options• Burial: most commonly accepted method– defined separation distances from ground andsurface water– defined amount of coverage over animals– Site may require soils assessment and permitting
  • Generally Accepted Options• Landfilling: “buried” at licensed landfill– must be accepted by individual facility– requires transportation and tipping fees• Rendering: heat driven process to separateproducts from tissues– requires transportation and possible storage ofcarcass– diminishing opportunities across U.S.
  • Generally Accepted Options• Composting: is gaining more acceptance as alegal option in most states– natural process driven by oxygen, moisture andmicrobes– feasible for larger carcasses, even in cold semi-aridclimates– reduced environmental risks– and the generation of a useful end-product**limited use recommendations are covered later in this presentation.
  • Compost is a, “managed, biological, oxidationprocess that converts heterogeneous organicmatter into a more homogeneous, fine-particlehumus-like material” (Field Guide to On-farm Composting, 1999)
  • • “Farming microorganisms” – primarily bacteriaand fungi; to compost, they require:– Carbon: fibrous waste such as wood chips, strawand crop residues– Nitrogen: component of manure, carcasses, andplant material– Oxygen: passive aeration and by turning– Water: ideal content is approximately 50%Composting Principles
  • • Carbon and nitrogen are usually supplied in a30:1 ratio for best results– commonly expressed as C:N = 30:1• For livestock mortalities, especially largecarcasses, the 30:1 wisdom does not apply– recommended carbon for dead animals farexceeds this, due to construction of piles orwindrows with proper coverComposting Principles
  • • Oxygen is maintained in aerobic compostingby turning, and initial particle size.– turning mechanically aerates as the pile is mixed– mortality compost is turned on a limited basis– larger or coarser carbon material allows morepassive aeration; ie: airflow– a coarse carbon base is recommended formortality compostingComposting Principles
  • Incorporating Animals into theComposting Process• Carcasses should be laid on their side• Base should be 18 to 24 inches of coarsecarbon– larger wood chips• Margins of coverageshould be 18- 24 inchesas well
  • Incorporating Animals into theComposting Process• Smaller carcasses can be arranged, as before…• Base should be 18 to 24 inches of coarsecarbon– larger wood chips• Margins of coverageshould be 18- 24 inchesas well
  • Incorporating Animals into theComposting Process
  • Base and Cover• Coarse base material aids in passive aerationfor first 3-6 months• Material around carcass may be finer– active compost, manure solids or spoiled silagehelp get microbial activity started• Cap should be non-odorous, and will act asinsulation and bio-filter– add extra cap/cover as needed
  • Tips!• Ideal moisture of core materials (closest tocarcass) is (50-60%)• Warm materials help start process in winter• Carcasses not yet frozen from winter tempswill heat faster• Even with freezing ambienttemperatures, composting will happen
  • Tips!• Even with freezing ambienttemperatures, composting will happen!– core tempswere 140F+,when this photowas taken atHavre, Montana
  • Carbon Options• See carbon source table in manual for full listof examples:– course wood chips– sawdust– straw– silage– manure solids– corn stalks– crop processingwastes
  • Carbon Options• Reminder:– materials with moisture of 50-60% will helpmaintain process for weeks without irrigation orturning– adequate base and cover will prevent leaching ofcarcass moisture and odors– low odor reduces neighbor complaints andscavenger problems
  • Windrows, Bins & Sizing• Windrows have the largest footprint and willrequire the most carbon material for base andcover– windrows may be ideal for multiple mortalitiesover a shorter period of time• Bins will reduce footprint and conserve carbonmaterial supply– bins may be ideal for layered small carcasses orintermittent larger mortalities
  • Windrows, Bins & Sizing• Estimates of total material for full grown cowin a single pile range, from 12 cubic yardsdown to 7.4 cubic yards– to make a windrow, add new carcasses up againstfirst pile, and cover appropriately• Practically speaking, for a mature cow, properbase will be about 9 feet wide by 10 feet long– core and cap materials should be a margin of 18-24 inches
  • Windrows, Bins & Sizing• Margins between layers of small carcasses canbe 8-12 inches– final cover margin should still be 18-24 inches
  • Tips on Bins• Bins may be constructed of:– hay bales– concrete barriers– wooden structures• Bins are easier to fence/block to excludescavengers• Passive aeration may be reduced withbins, and slightly lengthen process
  • Facilities Constructionand Engineering• Additional information and USDA-NRCSstandards for this practice and relatedfacilities/structures can be found in PracticeStandard 316 and the National EngineeringHandbook
  • Monitoring and Management• Composting takes 4-12 months depending onmortality size and mixture• The process is passive and should not beturned for 4-6 months– the pile, windrow or bin can be turned after thispoint• Most soft tissue will be gone within 6-8weeks!
  • Monitoring and Management• Temperature:– optimum composting happens with coretemperatures between 120 F – 150 F– below 80 F, microorganisms are not thriving– could be too dry or have low oxygen– temperature can be checked with a probethermometer
  • Monitoring and Management
  • Monitoring and Management• Moisture:– since this process is largely passive, starting withproper moisture is important– carbon sources with 50% – 60% are ideal– it may be necessary to wet core and cap ifmaterials are extremely dry (when carcass isadded)– after the passive phase, water can be added withturning
  • Monitoring and Management• Other Issues:– monitor for scavenger activity– monitor for excessive flies– make sure cover is adequate over time• The compost area should be free of theseproblems if basic directions are followed– i.e.: good carbon materials, proper startingmoisture, and proper cover
  • Monitoring and Management• Maintaining cover should prevent scavengers– at research sites, known dogs, coyotes and birdsdid NOT disturb properly covered piles
  • Curing and Storage• After trial and error to determine site specifictime for passive phase, turning will help finish• Some large, but brittle bones may remain• Materials may have dried out• Breakdown of carbon material and particlesize reduction may inhibit passive aeration
  • Curing and Storage• After 4-6 months…– turn– irrigate if necessary– remove large bonesif desired– let “cure” for another4-8 months
  • Curing and Storage• Curing: period of warm, but nothot, composting– final breakdown will occur– temperature will cool to near ambient conditions– may use compost for new mortalities or limitedland-application
  • Site Selection• An appropriate site will:– help to protect water and soil quality– protect bio-security (prevent spread of pathogensor disease)– prevent complaints and negative reactions ofneighbors– decrease nuisance problems– minimize the challenges in operating andmanaging the composting operation.
  • Site Selection• Location of the composting site should be:– above/out of floodplains– easily accessible (in most weather)– require minimal travel– be convenient for material handling– maintain an adequate distance from liveproduction animals to reduce the risk of thespread of disease.
  • Site Selection• The compost site should also be:– in a well drained area– on soils of low permeability or a pad– graded to prevent “pooling” or “ponding”– protected from run-on from land above site• Check local regulations for depth abovegroundwater and separation from surfacewater and wells!
  • Site Selection• Storm water– divert storm water from land area above site withberms or ditches– direct rain and snow may be beneficial in semi-arid west– if excessive storm water is possible, a run-offcollection system may be necessary– grass filter strips may also be appropriate
  • Equipment Decisions• Most mortality composting can be done withbasic equipment already on-site– front end loader or skid steer loader– probe thermometer– water source and hose– screen (optional)
  • Equipment Decisions• Hand-made screen to separate bones andunfinished coarse materials– these may be addedback to anotherhot pile
  • Effect of Climate• This process will work in the cold semi-aridwest!• Review:– proper moisture– active core material helps maintain temperatures– place non-frozen carcasses when possible– proper cover to maintain temperatures andinternal moisture
  • Issues to Watch Out For• Bones – screening or removal isrecommended• Operational mortality – consider number ofpredicted mortality and size site accordingly• Scavengers and odors – largely controlled byproper cover and choice of cap materials
  • Issues to Watch Out For• Nuisance insects – high moisture can lead tobreeding of flies• Neighbor/public relations – consider visualscreens or site away from road or neighborview• Maintain recommended practices andmanagement to mitigate all potential issues
  • Compost Quality and Use• Finished mortality compost can have limiteduse on-site– use for future mortality composting– use on non-food crops as soil amendment orfertilizer– do NOT export from operation or sell– consult veterinarian if mortalities are diseaserelated
  • Diseases and Prions• Consult with veterinarian, before compostingis started, regarding all disease issues• Prion diseases may not be killed bycomposting– BSE may be unlikely due to USDA/FDA controls– however, scrapie (in sheep and goats) in smallruminants is known to exist in North America– chronic wasting disease is known in deer and elk
  • Emergency Situations• All livestock operations should have anemergency plan• Work with Extension or NRCS to develop aplan to deal with flood or high windsdamaging the compost site• Refer back to site selection recommendations
  • Emergency Situations• Composting can be a valuable tool foremergency management• Catastrophic mortality events can be managedwith composting• Consult veterinarians and emergencymanagers before initiating emergencymortality compost measures!
  • Economics• Mortality composting may be the mosteconomic practice– less labor than digging pits– same site can be reused– no transportation, tipping fees or rendering fees– basic equipment is likely already on-site
  • Economics• See “partial budgeting” tool and worksheet• Will a change in practices be beneficial to theeconomics of the business?– Additional Returns: not likely as mortality compostis not recommended for sale– Reduced Costs: likely as composting can be theleast cost practice
  • Economics• Will a change in practices be beneficial to theeconomics of the business?– Additional Costs: possible, if carbon materials orequipment purchases are required– Reduced Returns: possible if carcasses were soldto a renderer
  • Econ - Sample Partial Budget
  • Econ – Simple Scenario #1• Additional returns: $0 (compost will NOT be sold)• Reduced Costs: burying a carcass costs $200(hired labor and rented back-hoe)• Additional costs: $50 (operation has silage, strawand front end loader already, but must payexisting labor to do job)• Reduced returns: $0, no sale of carcasses torenderer– operation comes out $150 ahead for composting
  • Econ – Simple Scenario #2• Additional returns: $0 (compost will NOT be sold)• Reduced Costs: $0 (carcasses picked up byrenderer)• Additional costs: $50 (operation has silage, strawand front end loader already, but must payexisting labor to do job)• Reduced returns: $40 (renderer would have paidfor fresh carcass)– operation loses $90 (cost of labor & loss of sale)
  • Economics – Complications• Does composting provide other benefit?– use on own crop land?– better biosecurity?• Is composting less labor than burial withexisting equipment?• Will any compost equipment choices pay-offover time? How long?
  • Economics – Decisions• Work with producer to analyze allbenefits/costs• Advise but let producer weigh options andmake decision
  • Regulations and Permitting• Composting is likely regulated!• Could be:– stand-alone regulations– already covered by AFO/CAFO permit• May be supervised by:– Department of Ag– Department of Livestock– Environmental or Waste Department
  • Regulations and Permitting• Consult with:– state agencies– advisors and technical service providers• Extension• NRCS• commodity association• consultant• Manual has basic information andcontacts for MT, WY, CO and NM!
  • Summary• Composting is a feasible practice for mortalitymanagement in the cold semi-arid west• It is also proven in more moderate climates• Composting may be preferable for:– economic reasons– biosecurity– public and neighbor relations
  • Summary• A Quick ReferenceGuide is providedat the end ofmanual– Step-by-step,2-page summary– Download to view
  • Summary• Visit: http://livestockandenvironment.org todownload or order project products and tools;– Click on Projects, then Summaries; selectMortality Management• Questions and Comments?Thank you for your time!
  • Project Products• Manual (English and Spanish)• Video• Budget & Decision Tool• PowerPoint Companionhttp://livestockandenvironment.org