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Hutchinson Leader/Litchfield Independent Review

From fields to yards But things change. Today, commercial fertilizers are expensive. Excess manure from large feedlots and dairy operations is a valued commodity, sought by many looking to enrich their soils. CreekSide has been buying composted manure from the Luthens family’s Skyview Dairy for about nine years. The 4,000 cubic yards delivered annually by the Luthens’ to CreekSide’s facility along Adams Street Southeast ends up being used in several lines of bagged compost the company sells. Up to 300,000 of the 1.6 million bags of material CreekSide packages each year has some composted manure in it, CreekSide General Manager Andy Kosek said. “It is a viable resource,” he said. Much of that material is used to enrich the yards and gardens of city-slickers. The material sold by Skyview to CreekSide is composted manure, not raw manure. CreekSide does not have the permits required to process it at its facility. But Skyview does. So the Luthens com-

post it at an inspected site near their farm east of the city. CreekSide, meanwhile, has the equipment needed to turn the piles to aid the composting process. “We go out and process the materials,” Kosek said. When it is ready, about a year after the pile began composting, Skyview trucks the 4,000 cubic yards to CreekSide about 35 yards at a time, usually during July and August. That is enough to cover the city’s current needs. About 90-percent to 95-percent goes into bagged products such CreekSide’s professional WonderBlend 100-percent Composted Manure, the premium CreekSide Compost with Manure, and the economy line SpendorGRO Compost with Manure. It also goes into WonderBlend potting soil and some privatelabel brands CreekSide bags. “It is a natural fertilizer that people are really going for,” City Administrator Jeremy Carter said. “In the metro area, growing gardens in containers filled with composted manure is becoming popular,” Kosek added. “The natural nutritional value is greater than commercial fertilizer. It is becoming more and more popular.” Landscapers have discovered its value in top-dressing lawns or as a soil material

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Agriculture 19

“In the metro area, growing gardens in containers filled with composted manure is becoming popular.” Andy Kosek, General manager, CreekSide Soils

for newly seeded lawns. “We looked at that as another thing to use in our marketing,” Carter said.

Growing demand challenge Not only is demand growing for such products across CreekSide’s six-state distribution area in the Upper Midwest, demand is also growing among farmers for the basic manure and composted manure. “I see a greater valued and demand for

it,” Carter said. The challenge now is that the price of commercial fertilizer is going through the roof, so more farmers are looking to Skyview Dairy for the cow-made fertilizer at a time when CreekSide and Skyview are negotiating a contract extension. Carter and Kosek are confident the long relationship with the local dairy producer will continue. For more about CreekSide, visit

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groundwater. And commercial fertilizers were cheap, easier to handle and apply, and readily available to all, even farmers who no longer raised livestock.

November 2012

& FAF Ag Services 25 W. Depot, Litchfield, MN 55355