NRCS Practice Standard: Composting Facility (317)
About the Company:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s primary private lands conservation agency. The NRCS helps producers protect and conserve natural resources on private lands through voluntary conservation programs. Through Practice Standards and technical guides, the NRCS provides information about the conservation, energy resources, and provides personalized advice to individual producers.
The NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical and financial assistance to producers as they implement NRCS Conservation Practice Standards.
Technical guides used in each field office are localized so that they apply specifically to the geographic area for which they are prepared. Thus, while national guidelines have been provided as a framework for each standard, each state has adopted and modified the conservation practice standards to suit their individual landscape.
To find a local NRCS Service center click here.
To find the specific guideline for each state click here.
About the Solution:
Composting Facility (317)
A composting facility is a structure or device to contain and facilitate an aerobic microbial ecosystem for the decomposition of manure, other organic material, or both, into a final product sufficiently stable for storage, on-farm use, and application to land as a soil amendment.
A composting facility is designed to produce an amendment that adds organic matter and beneficial organisms to the soil, provides slow-release plant-available nutrients, and improves soil health.
Organic solid wastes to be composted derive primarily from agricultural production or processing. The compost can be reused in the operation, utilized for crop production, improve soil health, or marketed to the public.
Composting is accomplished by mixing a carbon material with a nitrogen-rich material in a manner that encourages the growth of aerobic bacteria. Bins, windrows, or in-vessel structures, such as a rotary drum, can be used to accomplish this.
Design information for this practice includes site location, design sizing, storage period, and safety/biosecurity features. It may also include fabricated structure criteria.
This practice has a minimum expected life of 15 years. Operation requirements for the facility depend on the type of facility chosen by the producer. For every system, the temperature and moisture content of the compost will be monitored frequently. Bin or windrow compost must be turned at least once during the composting process. The operation and maintenance plan includes provisions for proper utilization of residual material. Routine maintenance is needed to ensure the facility operates as designed.
Common Associated Practices
NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) Composting Facility (Code 317) is commonly applied with other conservation practices such as:
Utilization of composted material should be handled in accordance with NRCS CPS Nutrient Management (Code 590). If animal mortality is to be composted, use NRCS CPS Animal Mortality Facility (Code 316). If animal manure solids are just being stored without managing for composting, use NRCS CPS Waste Storage Facility (Code 313).
To view the full NRCS standard for Composting Facility please click here.
Solution Strengths, Weaknesses and Critical Indicators
- Requires manure fiber moisture content <80%
- Volume reduction of 30 to 50% typical
- Produces a stable, odor free product with market value
- Requires significant space and time to create highest product value
- Different technologies and approaches result in a wide range of compost characteristics
Newtrient is using the USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards as tools to assist dairy producers in understanding the standards and how they can be used to address resources concerns.
To establish a Practice Standard a system or practice must be thoroughly vetted, approved, and standardized by the USDA at the federal and state level. These conservation practices have been developed to address various environmental resource concerns. Newtrient has developed a 9-point scoring process for ranking additives, practices, services, and technologies for the dairy industry. Recognizing the rigorous approval procedure used during the development of the NRCS Practice Standards, many of them score very highly and are worthy of consideration on any dairy where they apply.
The information provided here is a summary of the selected conservation practices. For up to date and detailed information related to the full Practice Standards, please see the USDA NRCS website, linked above.
1. OPERATIONAL HISTORY