Cost-Share and Design Assistance Available for On-Farm Mortality Composting Back »

This article was written collaboratively by Erin Cortus and John Lentz, Resource Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation.


Due to the rampant spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) many swine producers are looking for options of safe and effective carcass disposal to prevent further spread of the disease. Recent research on PEDv destruction indicates short-term high temperature conditions (greater than 160F) are needed for virus inactivation on metal surfaces (Thomas et al., 2013), but the effectiveness of other time and temperature combinations are not known.

However, there are three common options for safe on-farm carcass disposal with potential for sustained high temperature conditions when designed and operated properly. These are: (1) composting using static piles; (2) composting using in-vessel rotary drums; and (3) incineration. Each method has cost, space, site and maintenance considerations that need to be considered for each barn or facility. On-farm mortality composting also requires approval by the South Dakota Animal Industry Board.

From a cost perspective, an animal mortality facility that conforms to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Practice 316 is an eligible practice for funding under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). For current incentive payment rates refer to fact sheet SD-FS-95 which can be found under the Publication and Fact Sheet section of the SD NRCS website.

Producers that are interested should start the planning process early to explore the option that will work best on their operation. Engineering design of these systems can be completed by NRCS or a certified Technical Service Provider (TSP) which can be found at the Techreg website.

For additional information on the conservation practice contact your local NRCS Office or John Lentz, Resource Conservationist with the SD Ag Nutrient Management Team at 605.996.1564 (Ext. 5). You can also contact Erin Cortus, Environmental Quality Engineer at 605.688.5144.

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