Composting manure

Reducing the number of pathogens in manure

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Raw manure is a source of plant contamination destined for human food because it contains pathogens. In other words, micro-organisms that can cause disease in people who consume contaminated plants.

The number of pathogens can be significantly reduced in manure by subjecting it to rigorous composting. One of the parameters found in most composting methods is maintaining manure at a temperature higher than 55 °C for at least three days in systems with aeration or containers.

With the windrow method, the manure – which is at the heart of windrow – generally attains this temperature, but not the temperature on the surface or at the bottom. The turning over or mixing of the windrow penetrates the material’s oxygen which provokes a rapid rise in temperature during the composting phase. When the windrow turners that reform the windrow are put in the middle of the composter which is on the surface, the manure is exposed to an elevated temperature. It is necessary to return the windrow several times for the entire composter to be subjected to the significant increase in temperature during at least three consecutive days.

The general recommendation is to maintain the internal windrow temperature at 55 °C for fifteen days and to turn it at least five times. The success of windrow composting, therefore, depends on the quality of turning and maintaining an elevated temperature.

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