Iowa State's beautifully landscaped campus means the campus services team is corralling lots of leaves this time of year -- in fact, several tons each day.
Until the volume overwhelms, mulching decks on mowers chop up a lot of leaves, providing organic matter for soil and turf health, said campus services senior manager Barb Steiner. When there are too many to mulch, the leaves are collected and transported to the university's compost facility (PDF) at the dairy farm south of Ames, where they're mixed with materials from around the university: Manure and bedding from animal sciences farms, food waste from dining halls and plant materials from greenhouses and Reiman Gardens. The leaves and plant materials (high carbon) help break down the manure (high nitrogen), she said.
Each truckload of leaves is weighed, and Steiner said they're currently delivering three to four tons daily to the compost facility. Weight-wise, that's a little light, but the leaves are very dry, she noted.
Mild fall temperatures have kept leaves on the trees longer than normal, and at midweek, Steiner estimated campus services' leaf work is less than half done for the season -- perhaps a week or two behind the timing in more normal years.