RethinkRecycle. Eco-friendly. Byproducts. Biodegradable. Repurpose. “Green”. Compost. Emissions. All of these words are relatively new to our modern vocabulary, and are changing the way people think about the waste that they produce on any given day. Have you ever thought about how farmers recycle and reuse the products that they use for their operation? They are the original recyclers!

Farmers are growing very conscious of all of the byproducts they create while running a successful farming operation. Livestock farmers have found that the manure their animals create is great fertilizer for their crops, and have been spreading this on their fields for hundreds of years! Talk about a smelly recycling project! This picture is of a modern day small-farm manure spreader.

Manure Spreader

Cattle farmers have also found a new feed that can be fed to their cattle, that is a byproduct of ethanol! DDG, or dried distillers grain, is leftover from ethanol processing, which is high in energy, protein, and easy to digest, perfect for cattle! It is also a low-cost product, making it easier for the cattle companies to make a profit.

Dried distillers grains

Crop farmers also have a new system that conserves the soil, while adding vital nutrients and plant material. When a farmer harvests his crop in the fall, he will leave all of the leftover plant material in the field, such as corn stalks or bean stubble. Instead of working the leftover plant back into the soil, they leave it as is. This prevents wind and water erosion because of the root system that is holding the soil in place. Also, when the plant finally breaks down, all of that organic matter goes back into the soil. Such a great way to reuse plant material that otherwise would be wasted!

No Tillage crops

Does all this talk of recycling and reusing make you want to repurpose something of your own? Check out the IL Corn Pinterest page for amazing ideas of how to repurpose old farm equipment and items into something beautiful for your home! We love finding new and creative ways of using old farming gear to make something new! Check out this side table made from old farmhouse shutters!

Shutter Table

What about that old fence that won’t keep the cattle contained anymore? Make a cute key and coat hanger for your entryway!

Fence Hanger

Use farm items to dress up the outside of your house too! We love these metal watering troughs made into container gardens for a small yard, such a great idea!

Metal Trough

And this is one of my all time favorite ideas for a farm item in your home…your very own candy dispenser made from a chicken feeder (clean..and never used of course!) How cute!

chicken feeder

So whether you are a famer conserving the land by reusing nature’s byproducts, or a homemaker creating works of art for the home, everyone can repurpose! And just remember, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink!

erin barrowErin Barrow
Illinois State University student

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