Compost and Mulch Demonstration Projects

Erosion Control Study
Iowa Department of Transportation/Iowa State University
In a cooperative effort by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Iowa State University (ISU), a three-year project was launched to investigate whether applying compost to roadside slopes would decrease the environmentally-damaging erosion that usually occurs as a result of localized rainfall.

Environmental Impact and Biosecurity of Composting for Emergency Disposal of Livestock Mortalities
DNR/USDA/Iowa State University
This Department of Natural Resources and USDA funded research project by Iowa State University evaluates the following items:

  • Feasibility of using composting for emergency on-farm disposal of livestock mortalities (particularly large animals such as cattle) in the event of a livestock disease outbreak or agro-terrorism in Iowa.
  • Potential impacts of emergency livestock mortality composting on air quality, water quality and soil quality.
  • Potential of emergency animal mortality composting systems to retain and destroy pathogens, thereby reducing or preventing the spread of disease.

For more information: visit the Cattle Composting website.

Composting from Swine Hoop Structures
Iowa State University
This study examined the distribution of moisture, nitrogen and temperature of packed manure and bedding inside hoop structures and evaluated the impact of four composting methods on nutrient levels and uniformity, mass, volume and moisture content. For more information, contact Dr. Tom Richard at or 515-294-0465.

Crop Growth Study - Impact of Compost
Chamness Technology, Iowa State University
Chamness Technology of Blairsburg, Iowa joined forces with Iowa State University to study the impact of using compost on corn and soybean crops. The study closely analyzed the impact compost has on the amount, type and availability of nitrogen available to corn and soybean crops and if the need for artificial fertilizers could be replaced by compost. For more information, contact Chamness Technology at 515-325-6133.

Swine Mortality Composting Research
Iowa State University
Composting of swine mortalities is becoming a more common approach for many livestock producers. Composting may be an efficient and effective method for producers to manage disposal costs and time while reducing the potential for disease transmission, air and water pollution, and attraction of insects and scavenging animals.  For more information on this project, conducted by Dr. Tom Glanville of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State University.

Composting for Animal Mortality Disposal
Iowa State University
This presentation by Dr. Tom Glanville, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, provides information on the amounts of animal mortalities in Iowa annually and an overview of various methods of animal mortality composting.

Fundamentals of On-Farm Composting
Iowa State University
This PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Tom Glanville, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, provides an excellent overview of the on-farm composting process.

Composting Dead Livestock: A New Solution to an Old Problem
Iowa State University

"Composting Dead Livestock: A New Solution to an Old Problem" is an article based on research supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, describes how on-farm composting of dead livestock can save producers money and help protect the environment.

Windrow Composting Systems Can be Feasible, Cost Effective
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems(CIAS)
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls calculated the costs of various composting systems that use either specialized composting machinery or common farm equipment and compared this to existing research on the economics of long-term manure storage systems.  For more information, visit the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) website.

Soil Amendment Effects on Crop-Weed Interactions
This research will investigate how amending soil with compost made from hog manure and cornstalks affects the growth and competitive ability of three weed species commonly found in Iowa corn fields (giant foxtail, velvetleaf and waterhemp). The manure and cornstalks will come from swine hoop structures, which are increasingly popular with Iowa pork producers. For more information, contact Dr. Tom Richard at or 515-294-0465.

Animal Manure / Municipal Yard Waste Composting Project in Wright County
Concerned about limited landfill space and disposal of manure from confinement livestock production, the City of Clarion partnered with an area poultry producer to mix yard wastes with animal manure to produce garden and flowerbed compost. For more information, contact Randy Killorn at or Don Wetterauer at at Iowa State University Agronomy Extension.

DNR Contact
Susan Johnson