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On-farm composting tour     Send a link to a friend

[JUNE 7, 2004]  URBANA -- Manure and landscape waste can be combined to create another stream of income for livestock farmers. That's the topic of a tour sponsored in part by the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program. The tour is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mike and Pat Dumoulin's farm in Hampshire, Ill.

"Adding organic matter to the soil renews and sustains the soil's nutrients, which is vital for sustainable agriculture," said Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, University of Illinois research specialist and coordinator of the tours. "But composting manure and landscape waste also becomes yet another way for farmers to use what they already have in abundance in order to put it to use as an additional source of income." 

Under a project originally funded by the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research, scientists from the University of Illinois and Illinois State University conducted research to develop the correct "recipe" for composting swine, beef and dairy waste with wood chips and other landscaping materials. The landscape waste comes from collar counties around Chicago. Now the project continues to loan equipment to farmers who are interested in exploring on-farm composting.

"It gives farmers a chance to try it without having the large capital outlay to purchase the specialized equipment needed to get started," said Paul Walker, ISU professor of animal science and coordinator of the Livestock and Urbana Waste Research team. "They borrow the equipment for two years and agree to host a field day as part of the arrangement."

The event on July 20 is the Dumoulins’ field day. Walker said the Dumoulins have been very successful and plan to continue in the composting business, having already purchased their own equipment, larger than what was loaned to them.

The field day will begin with presentations on the how-tos of composting and nutrient management. After lunch, there will be a tour of the composting site at the Dumoulin farm as well as demonstrations of the turners, screeners, grinders and other equipment.

"The field day will give producers and municipal managers an opportunity to see how a well-managed operation can benefit both producers and urban areas economically and environmentally," said Duane Friend, a U of I Extension educator who will be presenting information about compost as a soil amendment during the morning session.


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Four additional sustainable agriculture tours are scheduled for 2004.

On Wednesday, Aug. 4, a tour will include a wagon and walking tour of Sandhill Organics at the Prairie Crossing Organic Farm, the neighboring conservation community and Liberty Prairie Reserve. For more information about the community, farm and reserve, visit

On Thursday, Aug. 12, there will be a tour of Dennis and JoAnn Dickman's unique pastured poultry farm in Herscher, and a chicken meal will be included.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, a western Illinois tour will feature stops at several locations, including John Brook's fee hunting operation, Baxter's Vineyard and Winery, and Warren and Phil Barns' buffalo ranch.

The final tour will be on Friday, Oct. 15, and will feature an agritourism tour at Eckert's Orchard in Millstadt

For additional information or to register, contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant at (217) 968-5512 or or register online at A small fee will be charged for each tour. Registration at least one week in advance is required. 

For a printable brochure that includes details about all of the tours,

The tours are sponsored by the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois, the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program, and the Illinois Small Farm Task Force.

[University of Illinois news release]


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