Composting

The educational materials listed on this page are about Composting.

Many farms, especially organic farms, utilize compost for fertility, but what exactly is composting? Compost soil is made up of green waste (e.g. grass clippings) and brown waste (e.g. dried leaves) that provide nitrogen and carbon, respectively. With the right ratio of each, microbes in the compost begin to break down the material, turning it into organic matter. Composting methods depend on what type of farming is being done and at what scale. Other forms of composting include vermicomposting, or worm composting, which uses red worm composting to produce compost. Specialty crop farmers can make mushroom compost from the waste of mushrooms, and livestock farmers often compost manure over time. Compost making requires time, careful maintenance and the correct ratio of input materials. Key practices include nutrient cyclingnutrient managementorganic fertilizerscompostingcompost extractsearthwormsorganic mattersoil quality/healthsoil stabilization.

Building Soils for Better Crops will help you understand soil structure, soil fertility and overall soil management, including composting to increase organic matter. Diversifying Cropping Systems can be useful in identifying practices that enhance diversity on farms, such as manure management for livestock operations. The Small Ruminant Toolbox guides producers who are managing small livestock enterprises and managing composted manure in cropping systems.

Showing 1-19 of 19 results

image for video series on soil health principals and practices

Soil Health Principles and Practices Videos

Experienced farmers and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) provide information on managing and improving soil health. Farmers discuss practices such as cover cropping, and using mulch and compost to improve soil health.

Building Soils for Better Crops Cover

Building Soils for Better Crops

The fourth edition of Building Soils for Better Crops—enhanced and expanded—explains how to use ecological principles to build soil health and boost fertility, yields and overall sustainability.

Cover page of Smart Water Use bulletin

Smart Water Use on Your Farm or Ranch

As producers throughout the nation grow increasingly concerned about water scarcity, farmers, ranchers and agricultural educators are beginning to explore new, conservation-oriented approaches to water use.

Screenshot of an animated farm landscape

What is Soil Health?

Soil health plays an essential role in raising healthy, productive crops and livestock. With this interactive infographic, learn how practices such as cover crops, no-till, crop rotation and the integration of livestock work in concert to improve soil health.

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The Small Ruminant Toolbox

This Small Ruminant Toolbox is a large collection of publications, presentations and other resources that will be helpful to small ruminant producers and educators.

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Agricultural Composting and Water Quality Fact Sheet

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.

download the in-house composting in high-rise fact sheet in PDF format

In-House Composting in High-Rise, Caged Layer Facilities

This fact sheet describes research on composting manure inside of the buildings housing laying hens. Research showed that the addition of a carbon source coupled with frequent aeration of compost in a layer house produced temperatures high enough to inhibit fly reproduction in the material, and odor problems are diminished.

The New American Farmer

The New American Farmer, 2nd Edition

Hailing from small vegetable farms, cattle ranches and grain farms covering thousands of acres, the producers in The New American Farmer, 2nd edition have embraced new sustainable approaches to agriculture.

High Tunnel

2003 High Tunnel Production Manual

A 17-chapter season extension manual covering commercial hoop house and high tunnel production of vegetables, berries and cut flowers. For purchase only.

transitioning to organic production guide

Transitioning to Organic Production

Transitioning to Organic Production lays out many promising conversion strategies, covering typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas and federal standards for certified organic crop production.

reading on profitable pork

Profitable Pork

The 16-page bulletin features profiles about successful hog producers as well as the latest research on everything from greater profits to better-tasting pork raised in alternative hog systems.