Iowa Composting Regulations

Rules for on-farm carcass composting


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Summary Requirements

Administrative rules of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources state that on-farm composting of dead animals generated on the same farm as the composting facility is exempt from having a permit if:

  • Dead animals are incorporated into the composting process within 24 hours of death and covered with sufficient animal manure, animal bedding, crop residues or clean wood waste (free of coatings and preservatives) necessary as bulking agents and to prevent access by domestic or wild animals.
  • Composting is done in a manner that prevents formation and release of runoff and leachate and controls odors, flies, rodents and other vermin.
  • Dead animals are not removed from composting until all flesh, internal organs, and other soft tissue are fully decomposed.
  • Storage of finished compost shall be limited to 18 months and shall be applied to cropland or pastureland at rates consistent with the nitrogen use levels necessary to obtain optimum crop yields and shall be applied in a manner as to prevent runoff to surface waters of the state.
  • Application of compost to other lands shall require prior approval by the department.
  • Composting must be done on an all-weather surface of compacted soil, compacted granular aggregates, asphalt, concrete or similar relatively impermeable material that will permit accessibility during periods of inclement weather and prevent contamination of surface and groundwater.
  • If composting is done in a permanent structure, composter construction shall utilize weather and rot-resistant materials capable of supporting composting operations without damage. (Although not mandatory, a roof over the composting facility is recommended to prevent excess moisture accumula-tion that can lead to production of undesirable odors and leachate.)
  • Composting must be done outside of wetlands or the 100-year flood plain and at least 100 feet from private wells, 200 feet from public wells, 50 feet from property lines, 500 feet from inhabited residences, and 100 feet from flowing or intermittent streams, lakes, or ponds.

Iowa Composting Regulations

Rules of the Environmental Protection Division of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources covering composting of all solid wastes, including animal mortalties, are contained in Iowa Adminstrative Code Section 105 Organic Materials Composting Facilties.

Department of Agricultural &
Biosystems Engineering
, Iowa State University

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