Agricultural Composting Resources

Introductory Information

The Art and Science of Composting This University of Wisconsin publication provides a useful introduction to agricultural composting. It reviews site selection, different composting methods, pile and odor management, and compost quality.

Managing for Better Compost This NRCS publication provides an overview of agricultural composting principles and definitions of commonly used compost terms.

Backyard Composting This WSU publication provides an overview of composting principles for backyard and other very small-scale composters.

Como Hacer y Usar el Compost This OSU/WSU publication covers fundamental composting principles in Spanish.

Improving Garden Soils with Organic Matter This OSU publication explains how to improve soil using compost and other amendments, use of feedstock that is readily available in the Willamette Valley, and chemical analysis of compost.

Keep the Compost Cooking Manure and bedding collects rapidly on most livestock farms, especially in the winter. Instead of pitching the waste out the back of the barn, consider turning the materials into a valuable, usable product. Compost. If an active compost pile is started now, by spring you may be pleasantly surprised with compost that may be incorporated into the vegetable garden or flower bed, applied to pastures or used as mulch.

Environmental Considerations

How Fertilizers and Plant Nutrients Affect Groundwater Quality This publication discusses the forms and relative mobility of plant nutrients in soil and site characteristics that influence their potential to threaten groundwater quality.

Siting and Operating Composting Facilities in Washington State: Good Management Practices This manual from Washington Department of Ecology was written for commercial composting facilities, but includes useful information for agricultural composting facilities.

Water Quality Impacts of Headland-Stacked Poultry Manure This University of Wisconsin site includes results from a research project and fact sheets.

Cornell Composting: Water Quality Protection This site introduces principles for protecting water quality at agricultural composting facilities.

Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for Incorporating Food Residuals into Existing Yard Waste Composting Operations This manual from the US Composting Council addresses many of the challenges of composting residual pre and post-consumer food waste.

Using Compost and Organic Wastes on Farms

Fertilizing with Yard Trimmings This WSU Extension Publication explains how to use uncomposted yard trimmings as a fertilizer and estimate fertilizer value.

Fertilizing with Manure This PNW Extension Publication explains how to use uncomposted manure as a fertilizer, estimate fertilizer value and calibrate spreaders.

WSU Compost Mixture Calculator This Excel spreadsheet helps you determine optimum feedstock ratios.

Calculating Compost Bulk Density This WSU site describes a simple method for estimating bulk density using a five gallon bucket.

Composting Grass Seed Straw This OSU publication discusses options for composting grass seed straw with minimal supplemental water. Declared out of print March 2010, for information only.

OSU Organic Fertilizer & Cover Crop Calculator This Excel spreadsheet helps farmers estimate the cost and fertilizer value of compost, fertilizers and cover crops.

WSU Compost Connection This series of WSU newsletters published from 1996-2000 addresses a variety of issues relevant to agricultural composting.

Compost Application Photos of different types of compost application equipment collected by WSU Extension.

Clopyralid in Compost This WSU website describes how to test for herbicide contamination of compost and includes photos of clopyralid damage.

Mulching Woody Ornamentals with Organic Materials This OSU Extension publication discusses the use of finished compost and other mulches to conserve water and manage nutrients and weeds in woody ornamentals.

Composting at Livestock Operations

Composting Livestock or Poultry Manure This eXtension site introduces various methods for composting livestock manure.

Composting: An Alternative for Livestock Manure Management and Disposal of Dead Animals This OSU Extension Publication introduces methods for composting livestock manure and dead animals.

Animal Composting This Penn State Extension site describes methods for composting dead animals. 

Livestock and Poultry Mortality Composting This eXtension site includes several short presentations discussing livestock and poultry mortality composting.

Oregon Regulatory Information

DEQ Composting Program Current regulations, list of composting facilities and additional resources.

ODA CAFO Program ODA's Confined Animal Feeding Operation team administers composting rules on CAFOs.

USDA National Organic Program. These rules describe composting methods and uses that are compliant with organic standards in the US.

Detailed Technical Information

On-Farm Composting Handbook This popular NRAES book has been a primary resource for agricultural composters since 1992.  Order form.

Field Guide to On-Farm Composting This is a companion to the On-Farm Composting Handbook. Order form.

Compost Facility Operator Manual This 2009 manual from Transform Compost has been used in the ACRES composting workshops taught at OSU-NWREC. Order form.

The Science and Engineering of Composting This online manual from Cornell University includes general composting information as well as detailed engineering calculations for larger commercial and municipal facilities.

Composting This NRCS manual is chapter 2 of the Environmental Engineering National Engineering Handbook, it provides detailed information on compost principles, management and operational costs.

On-Farm Composting Methods This manual is published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and includes examples of international composting projects.

Compost Organizations

U.S. Composting Council The Composting Council hosts an annual conference and trade show, advocates for composting and provides educational resources.

Washington Organic Recycling Council WORC is a regional compost advocacy organization that hosts and annual conference and provides compost facility operator training in collaboration with WSU Extension.