Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Waste Management in Mississippi

Waste management is an important issue to all citizens. Large amounts of complex wastes are generated daily by individuals, businesses and agriculture. These issues require that waste be handled using environmentally sound and economically sustainable methods, including recovering and reusing as much of the material as possible through recycling. Without proper management of wastes, the negative impact on human health and the environment can be significant.

Urban areas generate large amounts of a variety of wastes, most of which are disposed of by landfilling. The high cost and regulations associated with landfills have helped promote an increase in the use of composting, recycling and other disposal methods such as incineration. Waste materials from wastewater treatment plants are among the most recyclable materials, along with waste from agricultural operations.

Industry also produces large volumes of waste. While many industry wastes can be used as soil amendments or ingredients in other processes, some may be hazardous and require special handling to reduce risks to people, water quality or the environment. Since Mississippi does not have proper facilities to dispose of hazardous wastes, most of these materials are shipped out of state for proper disposal.

Agricultural wastes such as animal manures are an important source of crop nutrients mswm1.jpgwhen properly applied. Concentrations of animals and over-application of wastes can lead to runoff into water sources and water quality or environmental concerns. It is important to manage these wastes properly to reduce these concerns. Some types of agricultural residues can be used as fuel to generate heat and power in local operations.

Extension Outreach

Agricultural waste management is a major focus of education programs conducted through the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service, which develops and delivers programs for citizens in all counties of the state. This outreach enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which may be a home or business owner, a farmer, gardener or young person. Here are some major Extension education programs that address agricultural waste management:

The Mississippi Waste Pesticide Disposal Program conducted through Extension has helped more than 900 Mississippi farmers properly dispose of more than 1 million pounds of unusable agricultural pesticides. The program directly benefits Mississippi's rural environment by removing hazardous wastes that could be a threat to water quality, human health and the environment. Similar programs in several other states have been modeled after the Mississippi Waste Pesticide Disposal Program. Extension provides information on how to plan a waste disposal program.

The Mississippi Pesticide Container Recycling Program has helped farmers recycle more than 5 million pounds of plastic pesticide containers since 1989. In addition to mswm2.jpgsaving farmers the cost of an estimated 16,000 gallons of pesticides through proper container rinsing and use of the rinse water on crops, the program results in significant landfill avoidance costs and reduced risk to water quality in rural areas of the state.

Through the Mississippi Polypipe Recycling Program, farmers have recycled more mswm3.jpgthan 6.5 million pounds of polypipe, or flexible irrigation pipe, since 1993. In addition to environmental benefits, this program creates new jobs while developing new uses for a waste product.

In addition to these programs, Extension also conducts local education programs to help citizens more effectively manage wastes generated in the home and deal with other local waste management and recycling issues.


The MSU Nutrient Management and Water Quality Task Force was formed to address environmental and water quality issues associated with animal waste management and related areas. The Task Force’s research projects enable this multi-disciplinary group comprised of MSU scientists and Extension specialists to advise farmers, regulatory groups, industry and others about environmentally sound and economically sustainable approaches to animal waste management issues.

College and University Education

Education is critical to develop the human resources necessary to address current and future water quality issues. Training relative to environmental education is available in several departments at MSU, including:

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