Roadkill on Maryland highways is put to work … as compost (article)

Roadkill on Maryland highways is put to work … as compost

FREDERICK, Md. — It’s a sad, but unavoidable fact: Many deer don’t make it to the other side when trying to cross busy roads and highways.

But those deer that don’t make it to the other side can help Maryland’s roadside plant life — as compost.

“I [saw] it Saturday, so it might be a little bit stinky,” said Jim Fogle, a team leader with Maryland’s State Highway Administration, as he drove to the location of a deer carcass near an Interstate 70 off-ramp near Frederick, Maryland.

As part of his job, Fogle retrieves dead deer and takes them to an SHA site near Mt. Airy, where the carcasses will be composted into wood chips.

As traffic raced by one day, Fogle stopped his yellow truck at the place where he had spotted the particular deer. It had been out in the hot sun for two or three days, and the smell was knee-buckling.

“When you get a holiday weekend, and it’s 100 degrees out, yeah, they get pretty bad,” Fogle said. “You better have a strong stomach for it.”

It used to be that the state simply buried dead deer along the side of the road where they were found, but some 15 years ago that practice changed.

“What we’re doing is recycling these deer,” said SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar. “And after about nine months, we have a usable product that we can go out and stabilize soil with for planting of trees or big wildlife plantings.”

At the composting site, Fogle placed the deer on top of a big pile of wood chips using a front loader. With a pitchfork, he spread the wood chips over the deer until it could no longer be seen.

Maryland SHA team leader Jim Fogle spreads wood chips over deer carcass at a composting site in Mt. Airy, Maryland. (Courtesy SHA/Charlie Gischlar)

Once the carcass is covered, the smell virtually disappears. Something people who live in a group of houses nearby undoubtedly appreciate.

“We used to mix it with horse manure, and it gave out more of an odor,” Fogle said. “So we switched it. … We’re just using wood chips and it seems to be working fine now. We don’t get that odor, and so far we’ve been lucky with our neighbors. They’ve been fine with it,” he said.

With manure, Fogle said, higher temperatures are created inside the pile of chips. But even without it, he said, internal temperatures reach 80 to 90 degrees; and that’s enough to reduce the carcass to a little more than bones in about six months. The compost pile is used for roadside plantings.

The compost pile is used for roadside plantings.(Courtesy SHA/Charlie Gischlar)

Clearly, what Fogle does is not a job for everyone.

“I enjoy it,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “Some people think I’m crazy.”

This is the smart thing to do with roadkill, and any animal carcasses for that matter.

Whenever my cat kills a mouse, or I find a dead bird near the house, I’ll put it in the compost pile.

Like any other organic material, it will break down into soil with enough time in a properly managed compost pile.

That’s funny that they tried using manure first- this is just more nitrogen and won’t help break down the deer effectively.

If he switches away from wood chips and over to leaves, grass and dead plants, he’ll shorten the composting process and improve his finished compost product, too.

Composting is a no-brainer 🙂


China to WTO: Scrap plastic imports banned by year-end (article)

How should we adapt to this?  Who’s going to take back all of our crap?

For starters, “I compost” needs to be the new “I recycle”.

I’m starting to get blue in the face, but I’m going to keep saying it anyway: Organic materials make up nearly half of our waste stream, and you don’t have to rely on anyone else to do it properly.

Right in your backyard, you can drastically reduce your impact today.  Here’s how:


Interesting Article: Gardening this weekend? Beware of the compost

[ original article found here: ]

Gardening this weekend? Beware of the compost

Published / by Honor Whiteman
a man handling compost
Inhaling or ingesting compost may raise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.
If you’re planning to revel in some gardening this weekend, be sure to wash your hands after. New research finds that activities involving exposure to compost may increase a person’s risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia most commonly caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila, which is found in lakes, streams, and other freshwater terrains.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted when people inhale small water droplets contaminated with L. pneumophila. This may occur through showering using a water system in which the bacterium has grown and multiplied, for example.

One lesser known cause of Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterium called Legionella longbeachae.

First isolated in 1980 from a patient in Long Beach, CA, L. longbeachae is found in compost and potting soil. Studies have suggested that inhalation and ingestion of these products may cause Legionnaires’ disease.

For this latest study, co-author Prof. Patricia Priest, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, and colleagues set out to determine the key risk factors for infection with L. longbeachae.

The researchers recently reported their findings in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Gardeners should be cautious

The study involved 31 adults who had been hospitalized as a result of L. longbeachae-related Legionnaires’ disease, alongside 172 controls.

Over two summers, participants completed questionnaires detailing their demographics, smoking status, pre-existing health conditions, and any activities that might have exposed them to compost or potting mix, such as gardening.

The study suggests that gardening is a significant risk factor for Legionnaires’ disease; almost all patients with the condition reported gardening in the 3 weeks prior to becoming ill, which involved coming into contact with purchased compost products.

Washing hands immediately after coming into contact with compost products was associated with a lower risk of Legionnaires’ disease, though wearing masks or gloves did not appear to help.

Other risk factors for Legionnaires’ disease included smoking and a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Based on their results, the researchers say that gardeners should be cautious when handling compost products.

We recommend gardeners avoid breathing in compost or potting mix, by opening bags away from the face and keeping it close to the ground when moving it around. Also, always wash compost/potting mix off hands before putting them near the face.”

Prof. Patricia Priest

“Smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should be particularly careful to follow these safety precautions when gardening,” adds Prof. Priest.


I was pretty skeptical of this article when I first saw it, but after doing some digging, it appears that this link has been mentioned for several years now.

The takeaway from this potential risk is to wear gloves when you’re gardening, and wash your hands when you’re done- two actions you’re probably doing already.

In this Telegraph article from 2013, Legionella Longbeachae was found in 4 out of 22 store brand composts in the UK.

One aspect I don’t see mentioned is if there’s a presence of this bacteria in homemade composts.  Time for a soil test again?

Compost Tumbler Sighting!

I was out for a walk and I saw this compost tumbler tucked away in a little park… I’ve seen plenty of dual-chamber composters before, but not this one.

I hopped the fence to take a closer look at it- it’s a pretty nice design, although I wish it were larger.

It had drain holes on the corners, which is great especially for a tumbler since they tend to get over-saturated too easily.

I’m stoked they have a composter on site… we need a lot more of that.

Is Mushroom Compost & other Recycled Materials OK for a Vegetable Garden ?

This is a great video for learning more about the different types of composts and mulches, and the factors that determine their quality.

For this year’s gardening efforts, I used a mix of mushroom compost, my own compost and vermicompost… my results so far are much better than last year, and I think adding a blend of materials helped.

Learn how to make composting a breeze! Free course and new e-book are now available.