Compost: Environmental Sustainability
- Upon initial collection, nitrogen-rich manure and food waste are mixed with carbon-rich corn stover and yard waste to make windrow piles. This mix balances carbon and nitrogen at the correct moisture and density to promote aerobic microbial decomposition. The windrows are turned and aerated twice a week to promote composting and minimize odor. To reduce the risk of runoff and leaching, finished compost is cured and stored under the cover of large hoop barns. Using this process, campus waste usually takes four months to transform into compost.
- According to the EPA, food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20-30% of what Americans throw away. Composting keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
- In providing an alternative to chemical fertilizers, compost enriches soil, retains moisture, suppresses plant diseases, protects against pests and encourages the production of beneficial bacteria and fungi that break down organic matter to create humus, a rich, nutrient-filled material.
- Although the University Compost Facility receives the bulk of its waste from campus partners, student groups and departments, through collaboration with ISU Catering and ISU Recycling Services, can also divert food waste, resulting from campus and community events, to the facility, instead of being landfilled.