Compost Quality Certification
Compost is not Static. Compost Quality may be viewed as a somewhat nebulous term in view of the fact that compost, unlike soil, is rarely if ever stable. Unlike soils, compost may change in a day or two where soils would do so only over seasons or years. Therefore, testing compost must take a fundamentally different approach, catching the “process” and the “product” at the same time.
Years of Research: Woods End Labs has operated an active compost research unit alongside its soil testing since the 1980’s. In this time we have mapped out many of the forces and factors that influence compost change. Unlike soil science, composting lacks an academic and scientific identify that is more than a few decades old. Presently, compost science and engineering is largely an industry-defined field.
Gov’t & Industry Input: Government regulatory bodies and private trade associations have played a significant role in politically promoting composting, yet from a broad perspective have had a debilitating effect on the science of composting. Chemists and biologists observing the field from the outside have remarked that in fact what is being described in the rules and tests are not composts but only predefined terms industry has promoted to protect itself. This modern form of commercialized regulatory science needs constant market corrections if it is to stand on its own. This is not unusual in young industries, and is a source of continued vulnerability and sudden change.
The Science of Composting: The science of composting is a dynamic and growing field. As a biological process composting is open ended, with a multiple of overlapping biological processes governing its direction. It is fertile ground for discovery and invites combined disciplines as in soil and microbiology.
A Path through the Maze: Working with this dilemma, Woods End Labs has discerned using principles of holistic resource management that certain complex groupings of compost attributes are recurrent and thereby fulfill the criteria of an orderly, functioning system. System express themselves variously as types, and these can be successfully matched to specific and desired end-uses in horticulture and farming. This enables an extremely practical interpretive structure to be established. A mathematical model developed by Woods End is used to expose the types and is constantly updated so it “evolves” and is enriched with newer observations.
Open Source to Innovation: The combination of this “open-source” framework for testing and broad experience in the practice of actual composting means that Woods End lab is able to routinely offer innovation and breakthrough analysis. These tests can be framed in a fashion that readily fits the public and regulatory expectations for simplicity. The result is that clients of Woods End move rapidly forward in improving cost-effectiveness of the process and ecological tailoring for markets.