The compost produced on our farm is the basis of our soil fertility program. Composting is the biological process in which microorganisms convert organic materials such as manure, animal bedding, leaves, etc., into a soil-like material called compost. This process happens all the time but in an uncontrolled manner in nature. A deliberate composting process controls the conditions so that it happens in a shorter period of time. While in the pile or windrow, the organisms that cause the composting process produce heat, which drives off moisture, destroys pathogens and kills weed seeds. When done properly it has the odor of a forest floor. The result is a stabilized product that is ready for use, without the odors common to waste products.
- Per Yard (tractor scoop-full) $50
- Feed Sack-full; about 30 pounds - $10
- 5 gallon pail- $5
- Other containers priced accordingly
Is Compost a Fertilizer?
Compost is considered more of a soil conditioner and biological activator than a fertilizer, although it does contain nutrients. The nutrients contained in compost are in a stable form that the soil can use over a period of time. The nutrients are not water-soluble, and so do not leach out of the soil into the water cycle. Compost adds valuable organic matter to the soil, which increases the water holding capacity of the soil. While this characteristic is extremely desirable, it is especially valuable during dry years.
Since compost is ideally humus plus microorganisms plus inorganic elements, it has the added benefit of having a number of organisms that can fix nitrogen from the air. Good compost has microorganisms continually fixing more nitrogen as needed and delivering it to plants. When applied, compost adds organic matter, improves soil structure, reduces or removes fertilizer requirements, and reduces the potential for soil erosion. Other soil amendments, such as pH modifiers, can be added to compost for efficiency’s sake, and for possible synergistic effects.
We use several feedstocks/ingredients to manufacture our compost. Manure from the dairy barn is combined with one of several dry carbon materials - this includes, but is not limited to straw, sawdust, woodchips, old hay, old silage or animal bedding. Occasionally we accept lake weeds harvested from area lakes, which improves the diversity of the compost biology.
Once the ingredients are assembled into a windrow, the windrow is turned twice over the next few weeks. Turning breaks up the piles and keeps oxygen coming in so that the process remains aerobic. During this time the microorganisms are hard at work and the windrow temperature ranges anywhere from 100 to 150 degrees F. Temperature is taken on a daily basis; it is a valuable monitoring tool. The basic idea in any natural system is to feed the soil life. Soil life in turn will feed the plant. Plants in turn feed people and livestock.
Backfill for Trees and Shrubs
Compost is terrific for use in planting trees and shrubs. Roots need a firmly packed growing medium capable of retaining moisture to properly supply the rest of the plant with nutrients and water as they grow. Compost is effective at promoting these conditions and can be used as an amendment mixed with backfill materials.
Container Mix or Potting Soil
Compost is more than ideal for your containers. Although our compost is not blended with other materials, it serves as a good growing medium for potted plants.
Nursery Beds & Flower Gardens
Compost is great for nursery beds as they need to have a high water-holding capacity and suitable levels of organic matter in order for the plants to thrive.
Newly seeded hillsides, ditches, construction sites or roadsides can benefit from an application of compost. Studies have shown that compost is an effective medium form minimizing soil loss and erosion in areas where surface soils have been disturbed.
State Department of Transportation
Hello there all you DOT employees! Did you know that NYS DOT provides specs for the use of “organic materials” as a component of various landscaping materials? Manure- based composts are listed as an acceptable type of source-separated compost. Contact email@example.com or http://cwmi.css.cornell.edu for more information.
For projects that require topsoil, a compost blend can be a beneficial and economical addition, providing organic material and water-holding capacity
Turf Establishment and Maintenance
Is your lawn looking less than green these days? Top dress with compost in the fall. Need to seed a new lawn or sports field? Do the maintenance up front by providing a good seed bed for grass. In the long run less watering and feeding will be required. Compost is an outstanding amendment for any lawn.
Fruit & Vegetable Crops and Gardens
Compost worked into a garden at tilling brings all the benefits mentioned at the top of this page along to the garden. It brings in organic matter, increases water holding capacity, suppresses pathogens and increases the microbial diversity.
Sources for information for this page came from: Cornell Waste Management Institute, Compost Fact Sheet #1 Acres USA Eco-Farm, and ACRES USA Primer by Charles Walters On Farm Composting Handbook Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES-54), available on CWMI website, above.
Note: If you know anyone looking for a home for piles of woodchips, we’d be more than happy to take them.