JUNE 2010

Agricultural leaders partner in composting

Pennsylvania leaders broke ground on an innovative facility to turn both excess manure from local farms and waste from yards and kitchens into compost and prevent polluted runoff from reaching Lancaster County’s streams and rivers. By composting manure from local farms, food waste from local schools and restaurants, and leaves and yard waste from Manheim Township, the new facility – Oregon Dairy Organics – will turn trash into treasure for organic farmers, home gardeners, landscapers, and park and athletic field managers. Oregon Dairy Organics will be selling finished compost by this fall.

Most manure composting takes manure from the host farm only and is managed by the host farmer, which usually results in low quality final compost, with higher emissions of ammonia, and compost that is only suitable for on farm use. While many townships operate larger regional composting facilities for greenwaste, few of them accept manure because of the odor and transporting manure can be expensive beyond about 10-15 miles. These municipal facilities must add commercial nitrogen to make the composting work because greenwaste contains very little nitrogen, which is a required ingredient to make compost.

Oregon Dairy Organics has the diversity of partners and stakeholders needed to make it work: Oregon Dairy and the Hurst Family to provide a farm site for the project; a professional composting company, Terra-Gro, will help manage the facility and market the finished compost; a local agricultural consulting company, TeamAg Inc., to coordinate farmer participation in the project; and a nonprofit conservation organization, Environmental Defense Fund, to coordinate the overall project and secure needed funding.

The project has been developed in close collaboration with Manheim Township, local farmers and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It is funded by the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania’s Rural Education Achievement Program (with corporate sponsorship from Trout Ebersole & Groff LLP, The Phillips Group, B R Kreider & Son Inc., and Worley & Obetz Inc.), the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Terra-Gro.