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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
The University of Illinois Extension Manure Share program connects farmers and horse stables with excess manure to gardeners, landscapers, and other large-scale composters, benefitting both the environment and economy of local communities. Illinois Manure Share connects those looking for manure with those looking to get rid of excess manure through the Illinois Extension Manure Share website: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/manureshare/.
Illinois Manure Share can provide financial relief for stables with excess manure. According to Ellen Phillips, Extension Educator for Local Food Systems and Small Farms, "Ordinarily, stables with excess manure would have to pay for the manure to be picked up by waste management and transported to a landfill," which could prove expensive for individual horse owners. Phillips explained, a survey of horse owners showed "it would cost a person with two horses about $400-$500 per month to haul away manure." With the Illinois Manure Share program, stables can save that money by linking them to local growers and composters who can use their excess manure instead.
With the high cost of removal, many livestock owners could not afford to safely dispose of manure which can become an environmental hazard if left to pile up. The Illinois Manure Share program provides one avenue for manure to potentially be removed for free, benefitting water quality by removing excess nutrients in runoff from manure piles and minimizing the amount of commercial fertilizer used by growers, gardeners, and others seeking manure. Phillips remarked, "With nitrogen prices as high as they are right now manure is a very valuable resource." The Illinois Manure Share program provides residents with access to organic sources of nitrogen lowering their cost for commercial fertilizer while adding organic matter to the soil.
Although the program was first started to aid land-locked horse stables in Chicago struggling to dispose of manure, it now connects livestock owners and composters throughout the state of Illinois. To participate in the program, residents create a profile indicating where they are, what type of manure they have or are looking for, and what kind of bedding is used. This allows participants to seek out manure or people looking for manure in close proximity to each other and facilitate the exchange. According to Phillips, the program is most effective when participants use the website to actively seek each other out rather than wait for someone to contact them. She went on to explain that those who are proactive "say the exchange was really successful and experienced great results. The program enabled livestock owners to get rid of manure on a regular basis without the high cost of waste management removal."
In addition to founding the program, U of I Extension Educators conduct workshops for large-scale composters that provide instruction for successful composting. The next workshop will be held Tuesday, May 28 at Tempel Organic Farm in Old Mill Creek, Illinois. All those interested in large-scale composting are encouraged to attend. For more information go to http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/calendar_event.cfm?ID=61748
For more information on the Illinois Manure Share Program go to http://web.extension.illinois.edu/manureshare/ or contact your local Extension office.