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Potato Waste, Turkey Manure and Sawdust Make Compost and Clean Acid Mine Drainage. The San Luis Valley is one of the nation's largest commercial producers of potatoes. Up to 10% of the annual harvest is lost to waste each year. With land and landfill disposal options disappearing, a solution emerged involving combining potato waste, sawdust from a local lumber mill and turkey manure to create a compost that is being used on alfalfa hay fields in the Valley. The National Forage Testing Association has determined that the compost-amended alfalfa hay grown with no chemicals and less irrigation tested in the top grade. A top-grade alfalfa hay will earn the owner up to $40/ton more than lower graded hay.
In addition, the potato/wood waste compost is being used to bioremediate acid mine drainage originating at the Climax Mine site near Leadville. An enzyme in the potatoes serves to neutralize the sulfuric acid in the Alamosa River drainage. Initial studies of potato/wood waste compost for acid mine drainage bioremediation shows metal concentrations dropping from several hundred parts per million to one part per million or less in just over two months time. (Colorado Natural Compost, 2004,


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