• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note/Watch Your Step!

Air Date: Week of

Watch your step! (Courtesy of USDA)

Living on Earth’s Paige Doughty reports on the prospects of turning cow manure into flooring.


CURWOOD: If you’ve detected a greening of the American mind recently well, a new poll says you’re right. That story’s just ahead on Living on Earth. But first, here’s this week’s note on emerging science, from Paige Doughty.


DOUGHTY: Whoa! Watch your step there, you don’t want to put your foot on that! Or do you?


If scientists at Michigan State University have their way you may be walking on floors made of cow manure.

The researchers are calling the new, or, perhaps I should say used, material, “digester fiber.” They’ve combined animal waste with plastic by applying heat and pressure to create the fiberboard. Two prototypes were tested and compared with similar composite products that use wood fiber and plastic. The tests so far show the digester fiberboard equals or surpasses industry standards for strength and stiffness.

Watch your step! (Courtesy of USDA)

There’s a surplus of animal waste in the United States; livestock on U.S. farms produce enough manure every year to fill a convoy of trucks stretching from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. Farmers’ traditionally use manure as a fertilizer to replenish nitrogen in the soil, but as industrialized agriculture has grown there’s too much manure and not enough land to fertilize.

The Michigan scientists hope the manure flooring will become one way to sustainably manage waste.

And you don’t have to worry about the smell, the digester fiber flooring is odorless; and the material is cheap to produce.

Now that’s a piece of cow pie you might want to buy!

That’s this week’s note on emerging science, I’m Paige Doughty.

[Sound of Cow Mooing]



Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth