Agricultural Composting and Water Quality Fact Sheet

Created with SARE support
Linda Brewer, Nick Andrews, Dan Sullivan, Will Gehr | 2013 | 29 pages

Composting, a controlled process for stabilization of organic matter, can turn waste into a valuable soil amendment. Creating compost from waste materials provides an opportunity to return nutrients and organic matter to the soil, a proven practice for soil quality enhancement. Compost can improve crop growth and provide environmental benefits by improving soil tilth and its capacity to absorb and hold water and plant nutrients. A properly managed composting process can destroy weed seeds, plant pathogens, and human pathogens.

This publication is designed to assist farmers in conducting efficient, cost-effective, on-farm composting that presents reduced risk to surface and groundwater quality. It was written for operators of small to medium-size on-farm composting enterprises who handle about 100 to 5,000 tons of raw organic material per year.

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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.