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From Cow Pies to Cow Pots: A Creative Way to Manage Farm Waste

Media Contact:
Jennifer Martin, CSREES Staff (202) 720-8188

July 17, 2007
By Stacy Kish, CSREES Staff

Dairy farmers constantly struggle with the challenge of managing nutrient runoff from the farm. A creative brotherly duo from Connecticut has developed an innovative and environmentally-sound solution to this problem, CowPots.

Ben and Mathew Freund created a digestion and dehydration process to overcome the troublesome odors and high nitrate content in cow manure. The remaining manure fibers are then formed into a variety of shapes and sizes to create CowPots, which can be planted in the ground to fertilize plants.

CowPots are easy and convenient to use for every level of farmer and gardener. CowPots are sturdy enough to withstand months in the greenhouse, but begin to degrade shortly after being planted in the ground. As the pot dissolves into the soil, it continues to feed the plants.

The easy to handle, odor-free, non-toxic CowPots benefit society in several ways by reducing the manure load on the farm and contributing to a cleaner environment. As CowPots slowly degrade, the nutrients released into the soil produce bigger, better plants for consumers. Because CowPots are biodegradable, there is no need for petroleum-based plastic pots that break over time and are discarded in landfills.

Following their father's example of environmentally sound farming, the Freund brothers began this project to develop a value-added product from the often-troublesome nutrient-rich cow manure. The second generation farmers live by an edict that good stewards of the land should utilize the most advanced technologies to preserve the environment.

The Freund brothers received the 2007 Mailorder Gardening Association Green Thumb Award for outstanding new products. The inventors of CowPots have been featured on the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs show and CNN's Larry King Live.

This project received Phase I and Phase II funding from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) for developing and marketing this product.

The USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service funded this project through the Small Business Innovation Research program. SBIR awards competitive grants to qualified small businesses to support high quality, advanced-concepts research related to important scientific problems and opportunities in agriculture that could lead to significant public benefit if successful.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.