Woods End Laboratories

Healthy Soil

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Organic Quality

About the OMRI Process

Composters and manufacturers of natural soil amendments may improve acceptance for certified organic farming via the OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute, Oregon) process. This constitutes an independent review, according to standards established in the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) of October 2002. Materials that are allowed (or prohibited) are compiled in the OMRI Generic Materials List in a cross-referenced format, permitting annual pre-approval for certified farming.

Products containing sludge-biosolids, MSW and industrial organic wastes, are not eligible for NOP and should not be submitted for OMRI application. Manure-based and green-waste composts are normally eligible with the exception of green waste containing plastic residues and waxed-cardboard content. There is as yet no formal policy regarding biodigestor output.


The USDA NOP process regarding soil amendments has been a source of certain confusion. In addition to how USDA appropriated the EPA 503 sludge rule to structure compost interpretation, the USDA NOP rule also restricted the definition of compost by imposing narrow start-C:N ratio limits (see www.ams.usda.gov/nop). A USDA-NOSB Compost Task Force (of which Will Brinton of Woods End was a member) modified the original recommendations for acceptable composts based on realistic expectation of farming. See NOSB Report: http://www.woodsend.org/pdf-files/nosb_compost.txt. Consult your certifier to determine if the recommendations of the task force were accepted.

Before proceeding to assume compost is or is not acceptable for Organic Farming, please consult with Woods End and your NOP technical adviser and/or approve USDA-NOP approved certifier.



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