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Sunday, May 28, 2017

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Know your compost
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In my day job, I work a lot on food safety issues for produce. I can tell you that compost quality is very important, especially if you plan to grow food using compost. The US Compost Council’s (USCC) Seal of Testing Assurance is a sign that buyers get product that meets quality standards.

If you’ve been seeing more P.R. about certified compost lately, that’s no accident. USCC promotes Certified Compost widely for use in commercial and residential landscapes. In addition to maintaining a presence at national and regional trade shows for the landscape industry, USCC has joined forces with Growing a Greener World’s Joe Lamp’l to promote compost and certified compost directly to the consumer.

Amending soils to boost organic matter has a number of benefits to the functional landscape:

  • Promoting plant and root growth
  • Promoting plant establishment and survival
  • Facilitating water infiltration, thus reducing stormwater runoff
  • Reducing water use because soils retain more moisture
  • Compost is also less expensive than some engineered soil amendments


USCC Seal of Testing Assurance participants agree to regularly sample and test their compost at approved laboratories. Participants also agree to share test results on request in a Compost Technical Data Sheet that includes: 1) Instructions for use; 2) product ingredients; and 3) analytical test results from a certified lab.

Compost manufacturers with multiple facilities must test and handle product from each facility separately.

Certified compost is analyzed for:

  • pH
  • Soluble salts
  • N, P2O5, K2O, Ca and Mg
  • Moisture content
  • Fecal coliform or salmonella pathogens (for certain feedstocks only)
  • Organic matter
  • Trace metals

To be sure the compost you’re buying meets industry standards, be sure to look for the Certified Compost Label  and ask to see the Compost Technical Data Sheet.

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