Fertilizing fields with manure from dairy farms can contribute to elevated levels of phosphorus in waterways. Researchers at UW-Madison hypothesized that composting manure before spreading it on fields would reduce this problem. Their study found that composting is a viable way to reduce phosphorus runoff losses from livestock operations with bedded pack manure. In part, these runoff losses derived from the reduced water solubility of phosphorus in composted manure, as well as reduced erosion due to the addition of stable organic matter in compost and the elimination of the need to spread manure in the winter, when the ground is frozen.
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Published as Research Brief #102