Woody Biomass Utilization

The MNNRD is continuing to utilize woody biomass products throughout the district. From its inception in 2014, the MNNRD has created approximately 2,200 tons of wood chips. Taking unwanted trees and turning them into a profitable and desirable resource benefiting Nebraska’s environment and economy, is a better alternative to piling and burning unwanted trees that releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Creating chips and applying them to the soil has been shown to increases soil moisture retention, infiltration rates, aggregate stability, and general soil biology. 

A Waste Reduction Grant from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has allowed the MNNRD to expand its woody biomass program further by cooperating with local producers on several composting projects. Compost is the product manufactured through controlled aerobic, biological decomposition of biodegradable materials. The product has undergone mesophilic and thermophilic temperatures, which significantly reduces the viability of pathogens and weed seeds. The composting process stabilizes the carbon that it is beneficial to plant growth. Compost is typically used as a soil amendment but may also contribute to plant nutrients. In 2020, the MNNRD’s composting program turned 400 tons of waste manure and wood products into high quality compost to be used as a soil amendment. One of the newer projects with a cooperating producer is composting 140 tons of sheep manure, old grass hay, and wood chips. Utilizing the compost product, the producer hopes to substantially reduce his commercial fertilizer use, build organic matter and nutrients in the soil, and expand on his No-Till program. This operation has a goal of eliminating commercial fertilizer application in the next few years. The MNNRD is striving to help producers achieve their goals of production while conserving our natural resources.