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Manure

Fall 2017

Till gone

“Life can multiply until all the phosphorus is gone, and then there is an inexorable halt which nothing can prevent. We may be able to substitute nuclear power for coal, plastics for wood, yeast for meat, and friendliness for isolation—but for phosphorus there is neither substitute nor replacement.”

—Isaac Asimov

The Greeks called phosphorus “the bearer of light,” a chalky white mineral that ignites spontaneously and gives pizazz to matchsticks and fireworks. Theories suggest it even arrived on Earth in a fiery meteorite crash billions of years ago.

The fifteenth element could also be called the bearer of life. Wound into DNA … » More …

Fall 2010

Cows deposit piles of diversity

Holly Ferguson knows her cow pies about as well as anyone. In the first study of flies in managed pastures in the Pacific Northwest, the entomologist has spent an unusual amount of time traveling the state and assessing its cow pies.

No matter the obvious jokes, dung dispersal in pastures is serious business. Wherever there are cows, there will be cow dung, and lots of it. A beef cow can produce nearly a ton of manure per month. And if that ton sits there untended, there will be problems.

Oddly enough, the conditions of the cow’s other major habitat, the feedlot, reduce the problem of … » More …