The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 11, 2002


Fertilizer smells irk neighbors

"I go somewhere with my manure every day" said farmer Mark Duffy to the board of health at the meeting on December 18. Duffy was called to the board to answer complaints of Carlisle and Chelmsford people about the smell of his fertilizer. "All organic fertilizer has odor, that's what makes it break down and work," explained Duffy. Duffy felt the warm weather of December had led to the complaints. Although he said he put a lot of fertilizer down last year, he felt that the smell was just the same. Duffy is using bone meal made from ground-up cow bones, which is not composted, and putting it down as quickly as possible because it will not work if you put it down on top of snow.

"Are you required to use organic fertilizer?" asked board chairman Steve Opolski. "No, but the organic material improves soil and grows good corn," replied Duffy. Although not a certified organic farmer, Duffy explained that the organic material has the potential to last longer. Duffy uses a conservative tillage called chisel plowing which does leave some of the bone meal exposed contributing to the smell. This technique provides less erosion than other plowing which makes furrows which can cause streams when it rains. "Everything I do is sort of a trade-off," explained Duffy.

Board of health agent Linda Fantasia said that there had been five complaints, three from Chelmsford and two from Carlisle. People have different tolerance levels for the smell.

Duffy also mixes horse manure and cow manure for another kind of fertilizer. Local horse owners provide him the horse manure. Mixing the two creates fertilizer of the right consistency. Cow manure is too wet and horse manure is too dry. Duffy claims the smell from this mixture is about as strong as the smell from the bone meal.

The board politely listened to Duffy and thanked him for coming to the meeting. No action was taken.

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito