Since the beginning of agriculture farmers have relied on biological processes for enhancing soil nutrition. With the advent of chemical fertilizers in the early 1900s, many farmers discontinued the use of green manures, crop rotations, and animal manures. Additionally, many farmers only grow one or a few crops, and farmers usually either grow crops or livestock but not both. Farmers today are relearning the benefits of integrated systems that utilize compost to provide crop nutrition and improve soil quality and health.
Composts and Nutrient Management
The WSU Puyallup Research Center faculty have conducted extensive work on compost, manure and biosolids. This website provides information on yard waste and food waste composts, clopyralid, calculating bulk density, nutrient management for organic systems and compost facility operator training events. The site has links to the Compost Mix Calculator the Organic Fertilizer Calculator and Center research publications.
WSU Compost Facility
WSU operates a full scale composting facility on the Pullman campus to recycle organic waste, while providing teaching and research opportunities.
An archive of digital photos of various aspects of agricultural composting and compost use to assist agricultural professionals and others in their education programs. Produced as part of the Compost Education and Resources for Western Agriculture project with funding from the Western SARE Program.
Soils and Compost
This WSU Small Farms Team website provides links to various resources on compost science, operations and equipment, compost tea, and vermicomposting.
Composting in Whatcom County
This WSU Whatcom County Extension website provides information on the Master Recycler/Composter volunteer program and links to compost publications and fact sheets, such as Compost Fundamentals, and Aminopyralid Residues in Compost and other Organic Amendments.
Stewardship Gardening: Compost
This WSU Master Gardeners website provides information for home gardeners on backyard composting, kitchen waste composting, and livestock manure composting.
Compost Trials in Newly Planted Orchards
Smith, T. 1995-1997. This WSU Chelan-Douglas County Extension website summary features results from in-orchard compost trials in North Central Washington. Report includes an overview of compost materials and use in orchards.
BIOAg Conferences and Proceedings
The BIOAg program has hosted or contributed to a number of conferences and symposia. Materials resulting from these events include presentations, posters, and proceedings highlighting research progress and results. Materials prepared for conferences often precede formal publications so browse here for emerging research.
Waste recycling solution creates energy, jobs
SPOKANE, Wash. - WSU News highlights a project combining the city of Spokane’s garbage, a little expertise from WSU’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering, and some engineering support from Ch2MHill. The result: 40,000 tons of recycled waste and 15 new jobs.
Herbicide contamination of dairy derived organic matter in Whatcom County: New developments in 2011
Burrows, C. 2011. WSU Whatcom County Extension. This article is an update on potential aminopyralid residue in manure, composted manure and silage. Mitigation actions include bioassay tests by composting facilities, outreach and education to prevent export of manure from operations where aminopyralid was applied, and proposed product label changes.
Influence of biodynamic preparations on compost development and resultant compost extracts on wheat seedling growth
Reeve, J.R., L. Carpenter-Boggs, J.P. Reganold, A.L. York, and W.F. Brinton. 2010. Bioresource Technology.
On-Farm Livestock Mortality Composting - June 2010
Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter
Creating High Value Potting Media from Composts Made with Biosolids and Carbon-Rich Organic Wastes
Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report. Hummel, R., C. Cogger, A. Bary, and B. Riley, May 2010. Ecology Publication Number 09-07-069. Composted organic waste including biosolids may substitute for potting soil for nursery uses. This study found that composted organic materials can perform as well as typical peat-perlite potting mixtures.
Influence of orchard floor management and compost application timing on N partitioning in organically managed apple trees
TerAvest, D., J.L. Smith, L. Carpenter-Boggs, L. Hoagland, D. Granatstein, and J.P. Reganold. 2010. HortScience. 45:637-642.
Land Application - A true path to zero waste?
Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report. Brown, S., K. Kurtz, C. Cogger and A. Bary, March 2010. Ecology Publication Number 09-07-059. This study tested the benefits of compost and biosolids applications to soils. Benefits included increased C and N levels, improved soil bulk density, water holding capacity and crop yield.
Sierra Heights Vermicomposter Project
Organic Waste to Resources Research and Pilot Project Report. Sierra Heights Elementary, September 2009. Ecology Publication 09-07-066. A vermicompost bin was set up at the school. The project developed and put into practice a set of lessons (available at the link in the document) for teaching about food waste and composting.
Washington State Compost Educator's Guide
Wescott, H., A. Bary, C. Cogger, C. Sullivan. 2009. This guide provides science-based information on residential composting and vermicomposting for use in Washington and assists compost educators with training events and outreach. Project was supported by the Washington State Department of Ecology and US EPA-Region 10.
Cogger, C. and D. Sullivan. WSU Extension Bulletin EB1784E. Rev. March, 2009. This updated bulletin provides a straight forward guide to making and using compost with an introductory section on the science of composting.
On-Farm Composting of Large Animal Mortalities
Price, C. and L. Carpenter-Boggs. WSU Extension Bulletin EB2021E. 2008. Composting can be a safe and effective method for disposing of on-farm mortalities when the correct procedures are followed and the system is managed well. This bulletin provides the necessary information for large animal producers in Washington State to start and maintain a safe and effective on-farm mortality composting system.
Characterization of compost tea microbial communities, and their effects on seed borne Xanthomonas campestris pv campestris
Crosby, C. 2008. M.S. Thesis. Hard copy available through WSU library system.
Greenhouse Gas Balance for Composting Operations
Brown, S., Kruger, C.E., & Subler, S. (2008). J Environ Qual 37:1396-1410. The greenhouse gas (GHG) impact of composting a range of potential feedstocks was evaluated through a review of the existing literature with a focus on methane (CH4) avoidance by composting and GHG emissions during composting.
The Myth of Compost Tea, Episode III: Aerobically-brewed compost tea suppresses disease
Chalker-Scott, L. 2006. WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center. This column is the latest follow-up to the 2001 Fact Sheet and 2003 review on the effects of aerated compost (ACT) on disease suppression. The article included unpublished results from university researchers from Cornell, Penn State, Rutgers and Michigan State Universities.
Estimating Plant-Available Nitrogen Release from Manures, Composts, and Specialty Products
Gale, E., D. Sullivan, C. Cogger, A. Bary, D. Hemphill and E. Myhre. 2006. J. Environ. Qual. 35:2321-2332.
Diving into Compost Tea
Carpenter-Boggs, L. 2005. Biocycle 46:61-62.
Potential compost benefits for restoration of soils disturbed by urban development
Cogger, C. 2005. Compost Sci. Utiliz. 13:243-251.
WSDA Compost Sampling Study Shows Clopyralid Ban is Working - December 2004
Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter
On-farm Composting for Residue Management and Soil Quality Improvement - September 2004
Article in Sustaining the Pacific Northwest Newsletter
Dairy Waste Composting
Myers Collins, K., R. Shumway and Q. Liu. May, 2003. WSU Extension Bulletin EB1947B. This bulletin discusses on-farm manure and straw bedding composting methods, costs, benefits and economics of composting, and marketing of compost. Additional information on this topic can be found in Extension Bulletins EB1947E and EB1948E.
Compost Tea and Food Safety
Bary, A. and D. Granatstein. 2003. This article discusses the increasing interest in use of compost teas for food production and potential food safety risks.
Development of plant bioassay to detect herbicide contamination of compost at or below practical analytical detection limits
Fauci, M., D. Bezdicek, D. Caldwell, and R. Finch. 2002. Bull Environ Contam and Toxicol. 68 (1):79-85.
Effects of compost, coal ash, and straw amendments on restoring the quality of eroded Palouse soil
Cox, D., D. Bezdicek, M. Fauci. 2001. Biol Fertil Soils 33:365–372.
Persistent herbicides in compost
Bezdicek, D., M. Fauci, D. Caldwell, R. Finch, and J. Lang. 2001. Biocycle. 42 (7):25-30.
Composting of Poultry Offal Demonstration Project
Bary, A., C. Miles and K. Gilbert. 2001. Report of a demonstration project conducted at Middle Farm, Lopez Island. The project objectives were to develop a successful composting process using poultry offal produced on the farm and to produce finished compost that is environmentally sound, economically feasible and returns nutrients to the farm.
WSU Compost Connection Newsletters
Archive of WSU newsletters from June 1996 to August 2000. These Compost Education and Resources for Western Agriculture (CERWA) project newsletters include relevant compost research studies and resources.
Compost quality: new threats from persistent herbicides
Bezdicek, David, Mary Fauci, Dan Caldwell, and Rick Finch. 2000. Agrichem and Environ News 174: 9-13. WSU Extension.
Organic and Biodynamic Management: Effects on Soil Biology
Carpenter-Boggs, L., A.C. Kennedy, J.P. Reganold. 2000. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 64:1651-1659.
Effects of Biodynamic Preparations on Compost Development.
Carpenter-Boggs, L., J. Reganold, A. Kennedy. 2000. Biol. Agric. Hortic. 17:313-328. The study showed that additions of herbal biodynamic preparations to compost piles resulted in consistently higher pile temperature during active composting, and higher nitrate levels and lower dehydrogenase:carbon dioxide release in mature compost samples, compared to the control.
End-product Quality and Agronomic Performance of Compost
Fauci, M.F., D.F. Bezdicek, D. Caldwell and R. Finch. 1999. Published in Compost Sci Util 1(2) 1999. Presented here with permission from jgpress.
Use of phospholipid fatty acids and carbon source utilization patterns to track microbial community succession in developing compost.
Carpenter-Boggs, L., A.C. Kennedy, J.P. Reganold. 1998. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 64:4062-4064.
Closing the recycling loop through organic amendments in agriculture and gardens
Recorded webinar (online presentation) from Jan 2011 by Craig Cogger, Crop and Soils Scientist and Extension Educator. This seminar discusses research and guidelines on soil amendment choices based on use, nitrogen availability, carbon sequestration potential, handling nutrient imbalances in organic amendments, and an update on herbicide issues in some composts.
Herbicide in Compost
This broadcast discusses aspects of compost contamination by persistent herbicides, such as picloram and clopyralid, which became an issue in 2000. Also discusses subsequent herbicide label and use rule changes. Featured guests: Dave Bezdicek and Mary Fauci from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and Dan Caldwell, compost manager for WSU. Posted via RealPlayer. Also available via Windows Media.
The Future of Agricultural Composting and Compost Use
The third and final video produced by the Compost Education and Resources for Western Agriculture (CERWA) project. Produced in 2000, the video looks at future trends that could affect agricultural composting and compost use, including composting systems and regulations, and marketing of compost products.
Compost: A Resource for Western Agriculture Part 1
The first half of a 2-hour satellite broadcast that focuses on the use and benefits of compost in agricultural production. CERWA, Jan. 1999.
Compost: A Resource for Western Agriculture Part 2
The second half of a 2-hour satellite broadcast that focuses on the use and benefits of compost in agricultural production.
Composting: A Tool for Western Agriculture Part 1
The first half of a 2-hour satellite broadcast focused on impacts of and opportunities for on-farm composting. CERWA, Nov. 1998.
Composting: A Tool for Western Agriculture Part 2
The second half of a 2-hour satellite broadcast focused on impacts of and opportunities for on-farm composting.
Some WSU Extension websites provide links to external sites for the convenience of users. These external sites are not managed by WSU Extension. Furthermore, WSU Extension does not review, control or take responsibility for the content of these sites, nor do these sites implicitly or explicitly represent official positions and policies of WSU Extension.
National resource links
The following online resources contain a wealth of information on a number of BIOAg topics. Use search fields to narrow results:eXtension, USDA Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) Master Publications List, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Project Reports, & Natural Resource, Agriculture and Engineering Service (NRAES) Publications.
Guidance: Compost and Vermicompost in Organic Crop Production
USDA-NOP 5021 Guidance 5/9/2011.
Guidance: Allowance of Green Waste in Organic Production Systems
USDA-NOP 5016 Guidance. 4/19/2010.
Occurrence and Levels of Fecal Indicators and Pathogenic Bacteria in Market-Ready Recycled Organic Matter Composts
Brinton, W., P. Storms, and T. Blewett. 2009. J Food Protect 72 (2):332–339. A significant percentage of sampled market-ready (non-sludge) composts in Washington, Oregon and California contained human pathogens; 6% had detectable levels of E. coli 0157:H7. Manure content was not correlated to higher pathogen levels.
Compost Tea Task Force Report
The National Organic Standards Board Compost Tea Task Force released its report on compost tea on 4/6/04. The report reviews the state of knowledge on compost tea, discusses human pathogen risks, and makes a number of recommendations to reduce pathogen risk while still allowing this emerging technology to develop.
The Art and Science of Composting: A resource for farmers and compost producers
Cooperband, L. March, 2002. University of WI - Madison.
Compost Quality Standards and Guidelines
Brinton, W. 2000. WERL. This document presents a variety of established and published compost quality standards from around the world.
Field Guide to On-Farm Composting
NRAES Publication-114. 1999. Companion to the On-Farm Composting Handbook, for use in day to day composting management.
On-Farm Composting Handbook
Rynk, R. (Ed.).1992. Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES-54). This handbook presents a thorough overview of farm-scale composting and explains how to produce, use, and market compost.
U.S. EPA Composting
This website provides basic information on composting and compost science, environmental benefits, regulations regarding organic materials and compost facilities, and links to regional and state composting facilities.
Cornell Waste Management Institute
This website provides links to Composting topics, compost Resources and a Vermicompost website. Composting topics include Science and Engineering, Large Scale (including manure composting), Small Scale (Home and School) and Mortality Composting, Health and Safety, Use and Quality of Compost, and CWMI Compost Fact Sheets.
US Composting Council
This site offers compost industry news and education such as webinars, composting operators training courses, conferences, and resources and publications. The Field Guide to Compost Use includes guidelines for compost use in landscaping and turf management, nursery production, vegetable, silvicultural and sod production, and as a soil mulch to control erosion.
Compost Science & Utilization
Peer-reviewed professional journal.