Locate the manure storage in such a way as to allow for future expansion of the livestock
operation. Also, do not block livestock or vehicle flow. Don’t locate the storage within 30
metres (100 feet) of a well or excavate into ground with a high water table. Adjacent existingtile drains should be blocked off. Check your local zoning by-law to ensure that you comply withany municipal requirements. The
Agricultural Code of Practice
contains information on sitingmanure storages. Minimum separation distances are provided for distances to neighbors'houses, lot lines and roads.
Composting is the process of decomposing organic matter, whether manure, crop residue ormunicipal wastes, by a mixed microbial population in a warm, moist aerobic environment. Theorganic matter is decomposed by the successive action of bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes. Inthe final stages of decomposition, redworms (or manure worms) assist in the production of stable humus which is the final stage of the composting process.Young compost that has not reached the stable humus stage, will be high in effective humusand available nutrients but low in stable, colloidal humus. Mature compost, which is close tothe final decomposition stage, will have a higher proportion of stable humus, and will beconsiderably reduced in bulk. Compost at various stages, from young to fully-aged, may be usedaccording to the needs of the soil and the crop.The nutritive and other benefits of the material will depend very much on the source materials,the conditions under which it was made and the maturity of the compost when it is applied.Young or medium compost will encourage biological activity in the soil. Mature compost willmake a greater contribution to soil organic matter levels and soil structure. In general,however, the process results in a net improvement to soil fertility, compared to an applicationof manure. For example, a field application of 30 tonnes of farmyard manure might supply 3tonnes of stable humus after a 4-5 year breakdown period. The same material applied as about22 tonnes of young to medium compost supplies about 4 tonnes, or applied as 15 tonnes of mature compost supplies 5 tonnes of stable humus after the same period.
Advantages of composting
The additional storage and handling requirements involved in the production of compost areoffset by the advantages of compost to the organic farmer. These advantages are as follows:1. Compost supports and encourages the growth of earthworms, bacteria, fungi and othermicro-organisms and adds organic matter to the soil. In this way, compost improves thebiological, physical and chemical properties of the soil. In comparison, raw manure also addsorganic matter but can cause a period of disruption to the soil life by creating an imbalance of nutrients.