You can learn how to make some problems disappear, thanks to information on a new Iowa State University Web site.

"Dis-Solving Swine Mortality Problems" shows how to compost hog carcasses that die from natural causes or disease. Used successfully in the poultry industry for more than a decade, on-farm compost facilities offer a flexible and low-cost method to dispose of dead animals, says Tom Glanville, Iowa State agricultural and biosystems engineer.

The Web site, located at gone/, summarizes research done by Glanville, Jay Harmon and Tom Richard on "environmentally friendly" ways to deal with swine mortalities. The work was funded by a grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

"When done properly, composting results in a biologically stable, heat-treated soil amendment that can be applied to cropland with little risk of air or water pollution," says Glanville. "More importantly, composting allows producers to manage mortalities promptly as they occur without waiting for rendering service pickup, or for the ground to dry up or thaw out so that burial can be accomplished."
Glanville says producers have started to use composting facilities because of rising costs and the decreasing number of rendering services available. Other disposal options such as burial and incineration have raised environmental concerns. Composting also reduces the potential for disease transmission as rendering trucks move from farm to farm. High temperatures during the composting process can significantly reduce the number of disease-causing micro-organisms, according to research findings.

The Iowa State researchers are looking at various composting materials, including wood chips, sawdust, straw and soybean residue. They also will investigate ways to compost chopped cornstalks from deep-bedded hooped structures.