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Composted Manure Incentive Project

A project in the North Bosque and Leon River watersheds that provided incentives for composting manure from dairy farms and exporting it from those watersheds for beneficial use.


From 2000 through 2006, the Composted Manure Incentive Project provided training, technical and marketing support, and buyer rebates, to make possible the composting and beneficial use of more than half a million tons of dairy manure in the Leon and North Bosque River watersheds. The primary purpose was to reduce excess phosphorus impairing water quality in the North Bosque River and threatening the health of the Leon River.  Approximately 78 percent (over 468,000 cubic yards) of the compost went to beneficial uses outside the North Bosque and Leon watersheds, which resulted in more than 2 million pounds of phosphorus being exported from the two watersheds and approximately 40,000 pounds of phosphorus prevented from entering the two rivers on an annual basis. The export of the manure, and the composting process itself, also greatly reduced the potential for fecal bacteria pollution of both rivers. To accomplish all this, several new private composting facilities had to be developed; this project provided training, technical, and compliance support to assure the composting facilities themselves operated successfully with exemplary water quality controls.

The project also worked to assure that the application of the compost reduced erosion and nonpoint source pollution at the point of use. It provided significant technical support as well as rebates to the Texas Department of Transportation in its beneficial uses of the material for restoration of roadside vegetation in highway construction and repair projects. Other significant users included athletic fields, golf courses, parks, schools, universities, local street and roadside re-vegetation, cropland, a rock quarry reclamation study, and a military base. Several university studies supported by this project provided documentation of the agricultural/horticultural and environmental benefits of these uses.

The project was designed to establish a self-sustaining composting market as an outlet for the area's dairy manure and a long-term solution for some of the area's water quality problems. In a 2011 survey, facilities that had participated in the project reported exporting roughly the same total amount of composted manure annually as the project had documented in 2007, at the peak of the project's compost export activity.

The Texas Department of Transportation continues to use compost to help prevent NPS pollution from highway runoff. TxDOT's specifications for compost products require routine product testing and certification of products through the U.S. Composting Council's Seal of Testing Assurance program.

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For More Information

Contact the NPS Program by e-mail at, or call 512-239-6682.

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