Composting Systems, Waste Management and Soil Fertility Blog

Feedlot Waste is the Start of a Revenue Generating Compost Business

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Mon, Feb 04, 2013 @ 12:02 PM

When Illinois feedlot owner, Scott Block, began composting his feedlot waste, he discovered a new and profitable source of income for his farm. Block raises 640 beef cattle in an old model of farming where the cows, in the form of meat, add value to his grain crops. His composting, which he began in the fall of 2011 as manure management, has quickly turned into a profitable business that is becoming a major income-generating element of his farm.

The start of a new business

Scott Block's motivations for composting were simple: First, he wanted to reduce costs associated with hauling and spreading his manure and feedlot waste. And second, he wanted to enhance the fertilizer value of this manure and waste to supplement his fertilizer needs across his 1,700 acres of cropland. His long-term goal is to completely replace all his commercial fertilizer needs with the high quality compost he produces with his Aeromaster pull-type compost turner. “We actually didn't apply any dry fertilizer last year, we strictly went with one ton to the acre of compost on our corn ground. And then we applied nitrogen later on,” he said. “I wasn't recommended to go that crazy, that fast, but our crops yielded just as well as anyone else's. That's our goal, to get away from all commercial fertilizer if we can.”

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Tags: waste management, feedlot waste, feedlot industry

Feedlot Waste Management Becomes Profitable with Compost

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @ 18:02 PM

Scott Block is preserving a way of farm life that used to be common in his area of Illinois. He's raising grain to feed to his cows, and then selling beef as a way to add value to his grain harvest. “I don't farm enough to just live off of grain farming, so I guess I'm trying to do it the way people used to,”  he explained.  “You got some cattle, you have a little grain farm.” But Block has scaled this business model to modern systems of food production, farming on a much larger scale than his for-bearers. His “little” grain farm includes some 500 acres of his own cropland, and he farms another 1,200 acres that he rents 45 miles away from his main farm. His beef cattle herd is 640 head and he also has a 200-head cow and calf herd. Composting is helping him keep his business model profitable, by helping him solve several of the challenges his large operation faces. It has also provided a new source of revenue for his farm.
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Tags: waste management, feedlot waste, feedlot industry

Humus Compost Tea Raises Relative Feed Value of Alfalfa

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

Because of its high feed value alfalfa is one of the most important feed crops grown in the U.S. With the price of commercial fertilizer on the rise, some farmers have turned to high-quality compost as an on-farm alternative to boost their alfalfa yields, improve their fertilizing practices, and reduce their dependence on external inputs.

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Tags: soil fertility, on-farm composting, humus compost, compost tea

Composted Manure and Dairy Waste Make an Effective Alfalfa Fertlizer

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Fri, Jan 04, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

With high levels of digestible calcium, protein, and fiber, Alfalfa is one of the most important and widely-grown feed crops in the U.S., ranking as the third most valuable crop behind only corn and soybeans. Whether they're producing it for their own livestock, or as a cash crop, it is important for farmers to maintain healthy plants and profitable yields. A typical alfalfa planting lasts for several years, making healthy, long-lived plants even more important. An Idaho dairy farmer has found that by composting his manure and dairy waste, he's able to transform it into a rich, balanced fertilizer to enhance his alfalfa crop.

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Tags: soil fertility, fertilizer, on-farm composting, dairy industry

Composting Keeps Dairy Farms with Alfalfa Profitable

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

A dairy farm relying on alfalfa for high quality feed is composting to cut fertilizer costs and seeing dramatically increased alfalfa yields. This is good news for dairy farms feeling the pinch of high fertilizer and feed costs.

When Gary Smith and his son Jason Smith began composting seven years ago, it was to fulfill their farm's need for organic fertilizer. They partnered with a cattle feed lot which provided them with huge volumes of manure and spent bedding as raw materials for their compost. After purchasing an Aeromaster compost turner and completing a training session with Midwest Bio Systems, the Smiths were soon producing high quality compost which boosted the yields on their farm. Neighbors began to take notice.

Today they have a booming business making and selling compost to other farmers, organic and not. Jason Smith has already hauled compost as far as 60 miles for some customers, and the demand is such that he takes orders for compost up to four months in advance. Alfalfa growers are one group of customers who keep coming back for more.

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Tags: soil fertility, sustainable farming, fertilizer, on-farm composting, dairy industry

Composting Dairy Waste Eases Restrictive Nutrient Management Program

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

As farms get larger, and the concern over nitrates in the water supply grows, the regulations surrounding manure applications are becoming more restrictive.

Mark Webb, a dairy farmer in Idaho, runs a 1,800 cow dairy. Like many large animal operations, Mark's dairy is subject to state nutrient regulation that dictates how much manure and dairy waste he is allowed to apply to his fields annually. “We have to report all of our manure that goes onto the field and along with that you have to do soil testing to make sure you stay within the guidelines which are 40 parts per million (ppm) of nitrogen on the field,” he explained.

Because there is a limit to how much manure he can apply to any one field, these regulations are costly for Webb. He had a lot of time and capitol tied up in transporting and spreading manure, in an increasingly large radius surrounding his dairy. But that was before he discovered composting. By creating an on-farm composting program Webb found a solution to efficiently deal with his manure without exceeding the nitrate limits set by his nutrient management plan.

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Tags: soil fertility, sustainable farming, dairy industry, nutrient management

Transform Waste to Wealth with Quality Compost

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 @ 08:12 AM

Few in the modern agricultural industry will argue against the necessity of fertilizer to remain competitive, boost profits, or even produce at all. One can spend hours debating the pros and cons of organic versus inorganic, liquid or solid, and various application methods, but ultimately what matters most to the farmer struggling to stay afloat is that the product is affordable and works.

High-quality compost is an organic fertilizer on par with costly synthetic alternatives, providing the full range of micro and macro nutrients needed to produce abundant, robust crops. This is precisely the commodity in demand by farmers across the nation - compost making has the potential to be a very profitable venture, literally transforming waste to wealth.

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Tags: composting equipment, soil fertility, fertilizer, humus compost

Dairy Waste Recycled into Bedding for Significant Savings

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 @ 08:12 AM

The cost of dairy bedding is on the rise and it is not expected to drop any time soon. The pinch is felt by farmers like Brent Webb who runs a 1,200 cow dairy with his three brothers and beds his cows in open corrals and freestalls. Webb has an edge over rising costs, however. He's found that his composting program has given him a way to recycle his dairy bedding almost endlessly to bring him significant savings and improved cow health.

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Tags: sustainable farming, fertilizer, dairy waste, on-farm composting

Dairy Waste Turned into a Good Soil Amendment for Uniform Germination

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Mon, Dec 10, 2012 @ 06:12 AM

If you're a dairyman, odds are, you have manure. Until Idaho farmer Mark Webb turned to composting he had too much of it. Webb used to spread his raw manure directly on his fields prior to planting, which “stunted” and “hurt” his crops. “The crops just did not grow as well from the manure that was straight off the corrals,” he said.

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Tags: soil fertility, sustainable farming, fertilizer, dairy waste

Manure vs. Compost: Dairy Waste Transformed into High Quality Compost

Posted by Midwest Bio Systems on Wed, Dec 05, 2012 @ 08:12 AM

In Idaho cousins Brent and Mark Webb both own and operate large dairies. Brent has a herd of 1,200 cows, while Mark has 1,800. Raw manure has always been on hand in large quantities, and both Brent and Mark used to spread it on their fields until they noticed it was having detrimental effects on the health of their crops. They found a solution in composting. Composting has transformed what was a waste product into a high quality fertilizer asset, produced using only ingredients from their farms. This helps them become independent from external inputs.

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Tags: soil fertility, sustainable farming, fertilizer, dairy waste, on-farm composting, humus compost