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Woods End Laboratories News

Remembering the early roots of soil health testing

July 4th, 2017

Soil health testing may well have come about due to events 40 years ago this summer. In 1977, The Ministry of Agriculture of Baden-Württemberg (Germany) released a definitive study which compared conventional farming methods with “biological” – defined as farms using “alternative” management for at least 10-years. The 85-page report focused on 9 pairs of […]

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Study shows Soil Health tests less variable than common soil tests.

February 3rd, 2017

A new study about spatial variability of soil tests conducted by University of Connecticut has found that common analyses for OM, K, P, Ca and Mg have much higher variability than thought, ranging between 42 and 93% – in other words, “extremely variable”.  The same study compared Solvita CO2, SLAN and WSA-VAST and found these biology […]

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Court Ruling on Compost Contaminants Brings Residues Back in Focus

August 17th, 2016

In a recent ruling (June 20, 2016) the US District Court of Northern California nullified USDA’s National Organic Program NOP “Guidance Document” pertaining to contaminants in compost. The result of the ruling is likely to bring back into focus a long-simmering issue of herbicide residues inadvertently present in composts. The plaintiffs, the Center for Environmental Health, […]

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Winds of Calima carry rich African soil to islands in the Atlantic

August 14th, 2016

Soil-destructive practices combined with the strong winds sweeping across Morocco and the Western Sahara are responsible for depositing soil in many countries around the Mediterranean and also out into the Atlantic ocean. Italy has a program to monitor the annual, measurable depositions of “dust bowl” soil from Africa and so does the Spanish Canary Islands, […]

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VOA’s rise in Compost as Food Waste Diversion programs increase.

April 25th, 2016

“More food-scrap based composts are coming into our lab than before and we’re seeing a significant increase in presence of fatty acids”, says chemist Jon Dyer, Woods End Labs. That could easily be explained by successful mandates for organic waste diversion which nationwide are increasing the amount of food scraps going to composting. On the laboratory side, it can also explain […]

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The New Normal: “Regular” and “Mini” Soil Health Tests Introduced

February 5th, 2016

Responding to growing farmer interest, Woods End Labs is updating its Soil Health test program for the 2016 season.  The former Premium test has been reduced in cost from $75 to $55, and a new MINI soil health test will be added at a cost of $30. Woods End’s offering of an entirely new type of soil test went […]

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As Maine goes with soil health so goes the nation

November 7th, 2015

Maine has by most accounts not figured prominently in modern soil health initiatives, but 2015 stands out as a harbinger of great things to come. An emerging group of progressive farmers are demonstrating reduced-tillage + cover-copping methods work in corn, alfalfa and potato rotations, and two leading soil labs are collaborating to innovate soil analysis.  In the […]

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After 44 years in storage, an archival soil springs to life on the 2nd day

April 27th, 2015

How long can a dry soil be stored and microbes remain viable? Many persons who have stored soil samples dating back decades have asked us this question. We recently had a chance to test the “dead soil” hypothesis. Staffer Bob Burger uncovered his old archive of US Geologic Survey soil samples, dating from 1971. One sample of […]

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150 years later, are our crop nutrient response models still working?

November 6th, 2014

Virtually all modern crop response studies trace their lineage way back to Liebig and Mitscherlich models. Liebig gave us the most limiting nutrient concept, often illustrated by staves of a barrel – considered a huge breakthrough at the time. Unfortunately, Liebig also insisted growers ignore any contributions from soil organic matter, conveniently helping spawn a century of over-reliance […]

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German Soil & Compost Groups Turn Against Bioplastics

March 6th, 2014

A press release (02/28) put out by German Council of Humus & Soil Producers (VHE) shows new opposition to biodegradable plastic bags at a time that couldn’t be more inconvenient. On the eve of Germany’s scheduled nationwide roll-out of food-waste biobins, VHE questions the true biodegradability of “bio-bags”, stating that the current 15 year-old standard […]

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Soil Health Tool Launches at Woods End and Other Labs

January 16th, 2014

Years of R&D and 14,000 trial tests have led to the launch of the Soil Health Tool, a new soil test offered by at least 3 labs across the USA, including Woods End Labs (Mt Vernon ME), Brookside Labs (OH) and Ward Labs (NE). The Soil Health Tool is “the next step” for labs already […]

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Compost riskier for hygiene than manure – at current Gov’t rules?

November 25th, 2013

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) proposes new food safety rules  that could seriously affect organic growers who use manure and compost to feed plants. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) commissioned Dr. Will Brinton to examine manure and compost studies before responding to FDA.  Brinton felt that the 270-day setback proposed by FDA (before […]

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Luxury consumption of soil nitrogen: wasteful or sequestering fertilizer?

November 9th, 2013

A corn nitrogen study presented at the 2013 Agronomy Society meeting in Palm Beach examined soil tests to indicate potential nitrogen not measured by conventional soil tests. An anomolous result raised interesting questions about excessive nitrogen uptake, also known as “luxury consumption”. The 2 year field plot study conducted by Will Brinton and Mark Hutchinson […]

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When the Left-Hand doesn’t know what the Right-Hand (PLA) is doing.

September 9th, 2013

American and European consumers are very familiar with PLA widely marketed as compostable for just about everything from chip-bags to golf-tees.  This renowned PLA, a biological plastic made from a “left-hand” lactic-acid molecule, also has a quirk:  it requires a pre-heat phase before it will actually biodegrade. That trait is referred to as Tg or […]

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Sour Mulch – how nature produces formic-acid “killer mulch”

June 16th, 2013

Have you heard the term sour mulch before? Washington state plant pathologist Dr. Ribeiro has often warned about how to spot it – and avoid it. But a mulch that “kills at a distance”? A northeast mulch producer submitted his product to Woods End lab with the caveat -“I’m not sure you can figure out […]

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Herbicide Plant-Injury Risk Management (PIRM) Tool for Compost – Upgraded

April 8th, 2013

Composters face certain risks when growers purchase and use products for which herbicide residue effects have not been properly evaluated. The situation has propelled Woods End Labs to upgrade its auxin-injury plant test by adding Risk Categories.  The goal is to hybridize plant-injury ranks with compost application rates.  “People are being misled into believing that […]

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Microbead plastics added to list of harmful water pollution

February 8th, 2013

A frothy storm has been brewing recently as home consumer products are discovered that have micro-bead plastic content designed to give a “lift”. The problem is: they are real downers for aquatic life. A day after the Dec 28 2012 news that Lake Michigan is being clogged with plastic contamination, Unilever announced it will be […]

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Single-stream recycling in the NE: “Dirty MRF” déjà vu or new start?

January 4th, 2013

The surge in single-stream recycling in the Northeast is reminiscent of the early 90’s, when “dirty MRF’s” were a stand-in for source separation and clean composting. Since then, many communities have struggled successfully to establish participation in “source-separation” or multiple-stream programs,- but recycle rates are still low. Switching to a single-stream system is to some […]

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Biogas never sleeps (like solar and wind power do).

October 30th, 2012

According to the US Biogas Council, there are 181 farm-based biogas producers in America. That’s as many as in, perhaps, one county in Germany. But no matter. The difference between biogas- the dark horse- and “sexy” solar and wind that everyone is talking about in America, is that biogas is STEADY and STORABLE. The others […]

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Tomatoes clobbered by horse manure chemicals … and then recover

July 6th, 2012

Tomato seedlings were severely damaged (see inset) by manure compost used in Will Brinton’s family garden. The compost came from a Pennsylvania facility. “We thought the plants would not survive” said Brinton, who prepared potting-mix with the compost. In his work at Woods End Labs Brinton has researched compost contamination resulting from “carry-over” of farm […]

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Cure-On, Never-Die Compost

May 30th, 2012

With all the current industry emphasis on how quickly compost can be made (and how loose and flexible stability standards should be), producers may be interested in the opposite case: the quality in testing “extremely aged” compost. Woods End labs tested an unused bag of 10-year-old compost, stored moist since 2002 in our greenhouse. In […]

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Soil test controversy still exerting influence … a generation later.

April 22nd, 2012

It has been exactly 30 years this spring since Dr. William Liebhardt and colleagues published a carefully crafted survey of 69 USA soil test labs. In the ensuing uproar, some suggested Bill Liebhardt had thrown his career away. Recollecting the events, Bill (retired Ag Scientist, UC Davis CA) told us: “At agronomy meetings where we […]

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About the case of the disappearing chip bag ….

March 5th, 2012

The day before Earth Day 2009, fans of American Idol were wowed by a TV ad showing a SunChips bag disappearing and turning into compost, right before their eyes. The ad was genuine. It took stitching together 8,800 individual images shot within a see-through compost chamber, designed and built at Woods End Labs. Frito-Lay declared “the […]

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New success linking soil biology and nutrient release

February 18th, 2012

Soil labs have traditionally been reluctant to offer soil biology tests, partly due to costly, complicated (and outdated) methods. Renewed interest in soil quality is increasingly motivating researchers and growers. “For too long, its been believed that soil biology is of academic interest only – or an exclusive domain of organic growing alone. But now, […]

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“Biochar Claims Overblown” EU Scientists suggest renaming to “Plant Charcoal”

November 27th, 2011

The re-discovery of “Terra Preta” in the Amazon Basin marked for soil scientists a possible turning point: the idea that an ancient practice could provide insight into correcting CO2 build-up and staving soil decline.  “Millions of Euros have been spent now on biochar studies”: conference organizer for the Berlin October 2011 ANS-Symposium intoned.  Far from […]

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Marine biodegradation tests show PE with half-life of 48 years

October 7th, 2011

For one year, marine biodegradation tests have been underway at Woods End and are revealing “important and interesting differences” in behavior of polyethylene (PE) compared to biological plastic such as PLA (polylactic acid) and PHA  (polyhydroxyalkanoate) polymers. Test protocols include ASTM 7081 and ASTM-6691 which require quantifying disappearance and also use marine phytoplankton to rule out […]

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Long term soil plots reveal soil quality, sustainability (Auburn Univ.)

September 19th, 2011

The  “Old Rotation” trial at Auburn University, AL has been continuously managed since 1896 (126 years) and is one of 3 of the oldest running research plots in the USA (in Europe, the Rothamsted plots have been running 160 years). Recent monitoring of the Auburn plots reveals the great value to soil quality (and nutrient […]

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Labs lining up to offer Solvita CO2-Burst Soil Test

June 6th, 2011

Public and private USA soil labs are lining up to offer Woods End’s latest protocol: a soil test that simulates the biological CO2-burst following moistening of dry soil. The phenomena of a respiration spike has been observed by  soil scientists to correlate with soil microbial biomass carbon (SMBC), the soil’s living storehouse. The simple, inexpensive […]

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How Sustainable is Modern Horticulture?

May 3rd, 2011

An evaluation of  modern horticulture shows that the quantity of non-renewable resources and fossil-based chemicals that go into growing greenhouse plants ranks commercial greenhouses  among the least sustainable of  agricultural practices. In some cases which Woods End has examined, there are virtually no natural ingredients going into the raising of plants — “except the CO2 that […]

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What’s your farm’s energy toolkit? Brinton & Bragg respond.

October 10th, 2010

At the annual NODPA meetings in Maine, the theme was renewable energy on the farm. Brinton and Bragg (Woods End/Rainbow Valley Farm) presented a discussion of the challenge of large scale liquid-digesters which are mostly if not totally uneconomical for “average or medium-sized” dairy farms. Brinton & Bragg demonstrated a portable “Dry Digester (DD)” (coined by […]

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Dog Waste Makes “Park Spark” – in Boston

September 8th, 2010
Park Spark

An event that was widely rumored in the media to have happened in San Francisco 2009 (but never did) has now taken place in Boston! – digesting dog poop into methane,- in a public setting. The “ParkSpark” project was conceived by MIT art student Matthew Mazotta, who after interning at Woods End Labs in 2009 […]

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Compost’s little methane problem: Incompletely matured cure piles.

April 27th, 2010

In a recent paper presented at the April 2010 San Diego Biocycle convention, Brinton of Woods End, and other scientists, presented observations on compost emissions- including NH3, NOx, and CH4. According to Brinton’s work, the findings are a little surprising: compost placed into large cure piles while still somewhat immature, produced “emissions equivalent to biogas” over […]

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Earth Day Week 2010 Finds Woods End on Several Platforms

April 19th, 2010

From Earth Day’s back-to-the-land beginnings in 1970, to the present 2010, where Lockheed-Martin Corp recommends green children books including Pee Wee and the Magical Compost Heap (by Larraine Roulston) Earth Day has grown in significance and stature, as has Woods End®. This Earth Day week will see Woods End appearing on several national platforms; one is […]

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Compost Behavior … its largely externality and circumstance …

October 10th, 2009
Compost Behavior

Woods End ‘s compost studio is demonstrating how the physical circumstance of compost – such as the ratio of volume (V) to surface area (SA) – acts to dictate composting performance all the way down to the minute chemistry. Compost bins tested in duplicate at Woods End in sizes ranging from 8 to 50 cu.ft. […]

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Composted Dairy Manure Buffers against pH drop in container mixes

August 15th, 2009

A collaboration between North Carolina State University and Woods End Laboratory reported at the ISHA Meetings has shown that Dairy cow manure compost (DMC) buffers pH drift in container mixes. Normally plants cause downward pH drift that must be compensated for. Compost was made by Woods End farm and used as a soilless substrate substitute […]

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Innovative Dry Digester for Manure presented at Maine Farm Days

August 14th, 2009
Will Brinton

Will Brinton (Woods End) and Jeff Bragg (Rainbow Valley Farm) presented results of a pilot “dry-digester” proposed for Bragg’s farm expansion. MTI (Maine Technology Institute), Stonyfield Farms, Organic Valley and others supported the project. The premise is that farmers are  interested in converting manure to forms of heat and electricity but are worried about high […]

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Biochar and Soil-Plant Effects – lab tests stir up more questions

June 9th, 2009

"Biochar" or plant debris carbonized by a pyrolysis technique, reputedly based on "ancient charcoal processes", is being touted as "carbon neutral", used for beneficial soil effects, and rated as a means of CO2-carbon sequestration. Woods End has undertaken a variety of plant growth and soil chemistry studies, some of which will appear in a national […]

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Woods End study raises questions about compost hygiene

February 6th, 2009

Compost is widely believed to be safe and pathogen-free, yet detailed current scientific data are lacking. In this project conducted by Woods End and published in Journal of Food Protection, Vol2:2009, surprising variation and, in some cases, very high levels of bacterial pathogens were observed in market-ready composts from 94 facilities (CA, OR, WA) handling […]

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Going, Going, Gone – Digital Time Lapse Biodegradation is Convincing!

December 12th, 2008

Woods End offers exciting new technology when it comes to bio-degradation studies. The bio-laboratory has digital imaging capability to help visualize what’s really happening over time as a material is “eaten” by soil microbes. In this case, sequential digital imagery turned into video depicts the stages of 14-week decay in real-world composting. The test device: […]

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Biogas Studies Showing Viability of "Dry Fermentation"

November 20th, 2008

Research underway at Woods End on biogas production is suggesting that dry fermentation (from Trockenvergaerung in German) can work well, according to Brinton, who has led the efforts following a survey of European innovations. The process, more correctly called “high solids” fermentation, contrasts with liquid fermentation of lagoon slurries and municipal waste water at solids […]

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Amber Waves of …. Bioenergy …. Crops. Sustainable Energy Farming?

July 25th, 2008

Woods End’s research farm has ramped up exploratory plots of bioenergy crops including oilseed-rape (Brassica napus intended for SVO-biodiesel), sub-tropical grasses, and dual purpose crops such as triticale and native Cup Plant (seeds donated by Ernst Seeds). The goal is to develop sustainable crop rotations suitable to Maine that fit within existing frameworks of farming. […]

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Compost Energy Index: Are Modern Methods Carbon Negative?

February 15th, 2008

Discussions about the value of sequestered carbon from compost in relation to global climate change tend to overlook the sometimes enormous fossil-energy inputs that go into composting. These inputs offset some apparent benefits. An essay – What’s Your Compost Energy Index? published by Will Brinton in Biocycle, examines how much equivalent fossil carbon goes into […]

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UK Composts Flunk Consumer Agency Tests – Compare Poorly to Peat Products.

January 22nd, 2008

A British consumer agency report sharply criticizes UK compost quality, after “independent” growing trials were conducted. Four cultivars were ranked for germination, growth and vigor in 24 composts obtained on the open market, but only one of the composts could be recommended. So called “John Innes Compost” and Peat-based products out-performed the green waste composts. […]

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Bioplastic or No — If It Looks Like Plastic, It Is

November 28th, 2007

There is a new upturn in biodegradable plastics entering the marketplace due to companies making commitments to develop bio-packaging — meaning basically plastics which, after use, can be composted completely to CO2 and water, and be non-toxic. These products must be tested in accordance with degradability norms, such as EN13432, ASTM-D6400 and ISO-148522, all of […]

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Bioenergy Crops for On-Farm Energy Production of Biogas — The Next Generation

October 5th, 2007

The theme of renewable energy from rotation-crops was explored by Dr. Brinton at the Renewable Energy Conference held Oct. 2 in Indianapolis. Brinton’s paper, entitled "Bioenergy Farming – Sustainability Practices" outlined steps to adapt existing farm infrastructures to sustainable energy production by means of multi-cropping. Methane yields from bioenergy crops such as corn, sudangrass, and […]

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“Dirt! The Movie” Filming Features Woods End and Maine Composters

August 20th, 2007

Filming for the Common Ground Media, Inc project "Dirt! The Movie" got under way at Woods End's farm this month, featuring interviews between writer William Bryant Logan and Will Brinton on topics of compost and soil life. The film is slated to be submitted to various film festivals. (Ed. note: It was accepted and appeared […]

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Biogas, Dry Fermentation, Farm Sustainability — Focus of Woods End Development

August 1st, 2007

Bioenergy is a potentially sustainable on-farm activity usine energy derived from organic materials, including living plants, plant components and animal manures. In addition to conventional manures, Woods End will experiment with crops grown partly for bioenergy such as maize, sorghum-sudangrass and sunflowers. The production of biological energy is gaining ground rapidly as a feasible way […]

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Food Protection Paper on E. coli in Compost Teas Cites Wood End’s Work

April 5th, 2007

A paper on E. coli risks in compost teas, by David Ingram and Pat Millner (USDA-Beltsville) appearing in Journal of Food Protection underscores a decade of effort by Woods End Lab in making safe and effective compost teas. The researchers, who cite Woods End’s work, show that teas made by the slow brew European method, […]

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ComposTex Fabric Performance Tested on Sludge Storage Piles

March 3rd, 2007

A project directed by Woods End Laboratories for Brunswick Sewer District, seeks to demonstrate the practicality and utility of using fabric covers for winter sludge storage. DEP allows treated sludge to be stored for periods of time before landspreading; however, storage conditions are not always optimal. Pictured is a pile with the ComposTex(tm) cover, a […]

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CA Growers Debate New Guidelines for Foodborne Pathogens; May Affect Composts.

January 25th, 2007

The Western Growers Association is developing recommendations establishing mandatory Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) for spinach and leafy vegetables, to reduce food pathogen risks this coming season. Proposed test requirements are likely to include Salmonella, generic E. coli and E. coli-0157 in manures, composts and compost teas (as well as sources of water). With dissension emerging […]

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Biocycle Features Woods End Biogas Projects

October 10th, 2006

In the September Biocycle Journal featuring renewable energy (see BIOCYCLE ) Woods End presents an overview of biogas digestion research and testing. Among Woods End projects, some of which are found on the cover photos, are work with AgBag-Polyflex Composting Systems – preconditioning green waste for biogas recovery – and conducting laboratory biogas tests. Will […]

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Solvita DCR Unvieled at ORBIT-2006 Compost Congress in Weimar, Europe

September 20th, 2006

Woods End presented a prototype of the soon to be released Digital Color Reader (DCR) to accompany Solvita test kits, to participants of the ORBIT-2006 Congress in Weimar this week. Woods End plans to market a combination "Sovita + DCR" kit using classic Solvita with the advanced digital unit. The DCR eliminates subjective color estimation […]

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Sludge Composters Achieving High Level of Hygiene

September 10th, 2006

A Woods End Lab study commissioned by a state environmental agency is tracking fecal coliform, E. coli and Salmonella content of sludge and composts made from it. According to Woods End, the sludge composters, all using differing technologies, are scoring extremely high on hygiene. "They are – on average – achieving 4 log level of […]

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Woods End Lab Produces BioGas Energy from Potato Scraps

June 22nd, 2006

Biogas energy recovery from potato scraps has been found to be among the highest in recovery rates and also purity in terms of CH4, reported Brinton and Evans, of Woods End biogas lab. Samples of potato slurry donated by potato firms on Prince Edward Island (PEI) were run through bioreactors. "Within 1-week they took off, […]

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Recomendations for E. coli Testing Cite Woods End Research

May 20th, 2006

In an essay appearing in the April 2006 Microbe News (American Society of Microbiology), authors Doyle and Erickson (Center for Food Safety) argue that evidence is good enough to switch away from fecal coliform in favor of more specific E. coli testing, to better indicate potentially harmful fecal contamination. Since 1905, fecal coliform tests have […]

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Matrix Tested Composts on Market Prove Themselves

May 7th, 2006

Composts that have undergone the Woods End Compost-Matrix(tm) testing scheme are appearing in various forms on the US market, along with a "certified" logo – denoting that the compost passes a special array of tests. Matrix-tested composts are unique in that Woods End has subjected them to a set of at least 29 test parameters. […]

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Solvita Respiration Kits as Accurate as a Pin Prick, Purdue Report States

March 7th, 2006

Purdue researcher Richard Stroshine reported on using Solvita Respiration kits on spoilage detection at the National GEAPS/NC-213 Convention in Nashville, TN (Feb 28-Mar 2). Reporting on a three-year research project, Dr. Stroshine showed how placing a pin prick in a grain of corn, and employing Solvita paddles with Woods End's new DCR (Digital Color Reader […]

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Energy from Pet Manure – Biogas and Biofutures

February 21st, 2006

Woods End's role in assisting San Francisco and other cities in scutinzing how organic waste could be reused or recycled is being explored in several national news stories. San Francisco may be the first city in the country to consider turning dog droppings into biogas-methane, which can heat homes, cook meals and generate electricity. Cited […]

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Fish Hatchery Waste to be Examined in Two Research Grants to Woods End

December 13th, 2005

Two research grants received recently by Woods End, in partnership with the Maine Aquaculture Association, will strengthen development of new laboratory services and innovative waste products from recycled hatchery effluents high in nutrients and organic substrates. The research will focus on modern techniques to concentrate and stabilize highly reactive hatchery effluent wastes, without undue odor […]

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Biogas Heats Up the Biowaste Futures – Compost As Partner.

November 1st, 2005

With a new rash of construction of Biogas (methane fermentation) facilities in Europe which utilize green wastes traditionally only composted –- and interest trickling into the USA — “investors who have lacked opportunities to put their money to work may finally have the chance” – states a commentary from the new Journal of Biogas (Germany). […]

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Compost Stability Tests Compared: Solvita, DRI, Oxitop: Solvita predicts DRI

September 2nd, 2005

A new research project at Woods End seeks to set equivalencies of various test methods for compost stability. "Initial findings are very promising" reports Woods End, when comparing DRI (Dynamic Respiration Index), Solvita and Oxitop (Oxygen Pressure Drop system). The modified ASTM DRI measures total O2 consumed over several days, as does the Oxitop sealed […]

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Woods End’s Research in Press: Compost Herbicides, MSW Plastics and Salts

August 22nd, 2005

2005 has been an active year for Woods End in terms of research publishing. Three peer-reviewed papers are either published or in-press, one in theJournal of Renewable Agriculture & Food Systems (RAFS), one in Compost Science & Utilization and one in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination & Toxicology. Two of the papers deal with issues […]

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Copper Amendment to Soils Increases Antibiotic Resistance, Research Shows

August 19th, 2005

Several research papers published recently point to increasing risks that heavy metals play, and especially copper (Cu), when amended to soils. Two prominent articles in Letters in Applied Microbiology and Environmental Microbiology provide evidence that introduction of Cu to agricultural soil selects for antibiotic resistance in the Cu-resistant bacteria. These Cu-resistant isolates were Gram-negative and […]

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Traces of Common Chemicals More Hazardous – Implication for Clean Compost?

July 25th, 2005

Research by EPA reported in today's Wall Street Journal suggest that very common chemicals may be far more active at very low doses than previously believed. These include plasticizers called phthalates and some heavy metals. "The relevancy to recycling and composting is clear in more than one way" reports Woods End which has determined that […]

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UK Compost Setback by DEFRA; Fuels Debate on Risks of Community Composting

July 1st, 2005

On the eve of UK composters expecting relief from site registration rules, the agency responsible for regulations has backed down. Instead, exemptions have been rolled back in order to allow DEFRA to “further assess environmental impacts of composting and to develop a risk-based approach to regulation, particularly in the community composting sector”- ( DEFRA’s web […]

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PAS 100:2005 Compost Specfication Document Released in United Kingdom

June 18th, 2005

Persons interested in glimpsing the complexity of modern composting in the political environment of the EU as seen from a United Kingdom perspective, may avail themselves of the newly released PAS 100:2005 Specification for Composted Materials released by the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP). The document also bears the seal of the UK Composting Association […]

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Hygiene of Composting Mortalities with BSE may Dominate Conference Issues

May 12th, 2005

Is composting acceptable where BSE wastes are concerned? Woods End has been a pioneer in composting animal carcasses since the mid 1980's, a time when soil burial and incineration were popular, but unenvironmental. The success of carcass composting evidenced by many projects led to widespread adoption of composting as environmentally sensible. Yet, these successes pre-dated […]

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Probing the Secrets of John Innes Composts

May 1st, 2005

John Innes composts were first developed in England at the John Innes Institute, named after the nineteenth century merchant who in 1904 bequeathed a fortune to the improvement of horticulture through scientific research. One result was the creation of the famous John Innes compost formulas. These composts are intended as renewable and sustainable blends for […]

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Not all Compost Maturity Tests Equal – TMECC Cucumber in the Spotlight

April 30th, 2005

A recent double blind compost test by a Woods End client shed light on the reported discrepancies between the USCC-STA program use of cucumber to evaluate maturity vs Woods End's OECD-based Lepidium sativum (cress) test. See [link added 07/14/2005] CN-Cucumber Report A customer split a compost and sent it to both labs. Lab A (a […]

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Europe Stalls on Fulfilling BioWaste (Composting ) Agenda

April 15th, 2005

A group of European organizations have expressed their deep concerns about the apparent intention of the EU Commission's Director of Environment to abandon an independent directive on biowaste that would have fueled huge growth in organics recovery. According to a letter from the European Compost Network (ECN), after five years and numerous Commission papers, stakeholder […]

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Compost Stability Tests: O2 – DRI- CO2 and More ….. A Whirlwind of Choice

April 14th, 2005

(edited June 1) A variety of compost stability tests under development in Europe “have the potential to be as confusing as they are important”, according to Will Brinton of Woods End. The UK has announced a standard CO2-respiration assay, based on work by a single private lab. Elsewhere, O2-uptake tests seem to dominate, especially “DRI" […]

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United Kingdom Study Validates Solvita® Compost Test

March 12th, 2005

A study conducted by the UK recycling ThinkTank agency WRAP comparing Woods End's Solvita® Test Kit with another standard lab procedure concluded that Solvita® performs well. The study found Solvita accurately reflected changes in age of composts and correlated well with a standard CO2 respiration test which WRAP hopes to become a standard for UK […]

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USCC- Compost Council Conflict Issues and the Diaper Years- a Historical View

March 5th, 2005

The USCC was urged to address internal structural and conflict-of-interest issues, Brinton said after attending a USCC Board mtg by invitation in San Francisco. Brinton was formerly a member of a specially appointed transition team to restructure the Council in 1997, after the 8 years rule by Procter & Gamble ended. Brinton expressed concern how […]

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NYTimes Asks: Whither Compost Quality?

February 25th, 2005

As recycling and composting is mandated increasingly, consumer concern about the content and variations of the resulting products is likely to grow. A recent NY Times story reflects this critique by examining the range of new and exotic organic amendments including composts that are found on store shelves. The article also discussed the excitement of […]

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Oregon DEQ Reports E. coli Leachate from Compost Sites; Risks Unknown

January 31st, 2005

Test results from leachate samples in Oregon and elsewhere in the Northwest show high levels of E. coli bacteria, according to minutes of a recent (Jan 12) DEQ meeting. The samples were of leachate (process wastewater) from yard debris composters. In addition, the City of Portland also took samples from yard debris compost and found […]

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Horticulture Magazine Puts Spotlight on Solvita®; Warns of Poor, Salty Mulch

January 25th, 2005

Horticulture’s Spring Planting Issue features a story about Washington plant pathologist Dr. Ribeiro and his new concerns about poor quality mulch. Olaf Ribeiro warns of the possiblility of obtaining such poor mulch material that "it does more harm than good" when placed around plants. Among the tests Riberio has found useful is Woods End's Solvita® […]

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Woods End to Revise Dewar Self Heating Compost Test

December 20th, 2004

The popular procedure known as Dewar self heating, a compost test, introduced to the US compost market by Woods End from Germany in 1995, will be updated, according to a recent Composting News story. The procedure includes a new manual and a new type of flask, available presently. According to researchers at Woods End, a […]

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Thesis Questions Theory of Hygiene Temperature Uniformity of Compost Systems

October 26th, 2004

A recently published German doctoral thesis (Dr. Juergen Martens, Bauhaus Univ, July 2004) raises questions about the reliability of universal hygiene theories used in Germany to regulate compost technologies. Germany uses models to infer what compost performance is likely to be (analogous to the EPA-503 rule that distinguishes windrow, static-pile and in-vessel). The theory of […]

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Pro-Mix Peat Releases Bio-Fungicide Product, Competes with Compost

October 14th, 2004

Pro-Mix of Premier Peat (Dorval, Quebec) released a biofungicidal peat product this past week, according to reports from grower magazines and Composting News. The peat is fortified with a bacteria associated with biological plant pathogen control, an agent found in many composts. The active ingredient, Subtilex Biological Fungicide contains the active ingredient Bacillus subtilis. "This […]

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Addressing Quality Concerns Could Increase Compost Use by Over 300% in the UK

October 7th, 2004

According to a recent United Kingdom study, addressing contaminant and quality issues in composts could increase usage of compost by more than 300%. These estimates are found in a new report issued by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) with co-authors The Soil Association, Elm Farm Research Centre and the Henry Doubleday Research Association. The […]

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Visions of Tomorrow …. of Composting

September 20th, 2004

In an article of title “Where We Are Going” (Sept 2004, Biocycle), Woods End’s Will Brinton pens a view of a hypothetically distant time in the future when composts are well understood. “In writing this I was mostly motivated by my optimism about imminent scientific advancements in understanding composts. Yet, the article also reflects my […]

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Research Paper Shows Link of Solvita Maturity Index, Plant Growth

September 1st, 2004

In a recent issue of Soil Biology and Biochemistry (Elsevier Publishers) researchers at Ohio State University show positive correlations of plant growth to CMI (compost maturity index) as determined by the Solvita and other respirometry methods. The Cucumber assay was employed as the plant indicator and compared to three types of compost (dairy/straw; dairy/wood; pig/wood) […]

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Compost Tea research article discusses history and new findings

August 14th, 2004

A recently published article by staff at Woods End and a researcher at Johnny’s Seeds discusses aspects of the origin of the modern process of making compost teas. The paper presents some of the findings from researching aeration and extraction equipment compared to types of compost, by examining aerobic bacteria ratios and growth of E. […]

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New Solvita Grain Test Kit to be Unveiled at IQGC in Indianapolis

July 15th, 2004

Woods End announced the release of a new quick test for grain respiration. The test kit will be presented at the upcoming International Quality Grains Conference in Indianapolis IQGC July 19 – 23, 2004. The test enables a prediction of storability of grains by indicating the rate of CO2-release from fungi, which are responsible for […]

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INRA Proposes Standard Compost Bio-Test: References Toxicity of Recycle Wastes

June 4th, 2004

In a published paper this month (Acta Hort 644, ISHS, 417:422) scientists at INRA-Anger Horticultural and Agronomic Center (Angers, France) propose a new standardized bio-test which will use an inorganic herbicide as the positive control to calibrate compost phytotoxicity. The test is designed to detect any type of phytotoxicity which the authors contend are increasingly […]

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Europe Scraps Biowaste Compost Directive

June 2nd, 2004

The proposed European Biowaste Directive has been scrapped in a surprise move by the European Commission, today. The Biowaste Directive was set to encourage the recycling of food waste to farmland. Had it been implemented, this directive meant that local authorities will be forced to adopt separate collection schemes for food waste, and to compost […]

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Vineyard Tour Leads to Clues and Questions about Compost Success

May 28th, 2004

A recent California vineyard tour led by Don Neel, Editor of Practical Winery & Vineyard with Will Brinton of Woods End Laboratory, focused on operations using or employing compost and compost teas. “We really wanted to see first hand how compost is being employed and to determine how efficacy is gauged” said Brinton of Woods […]

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Immature Manure Composts Increase E. coli in Vegetables, Report Shows

May 17th, 2004

Bacteriological testing of produce grown organically versus conventionally has recently been reported by Mukherjee et al in the Journal of Food Protection. Fresh fruits and vegetables were examined for prevalence of Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7. All organic farms used aged or composted animal manure as fertilizer. The average coliform counts in both […]

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How compostable are those nifty new deli containers ? – Woods End asks.

May 1st, 2004

American consumers have been noticing new “compostable” deli containers in supermarkets recently. But are they truly compostable? “We’ve had some of them in our compost pile for several months, and they’re still pretty intact” said Will Brinton. The containers are manufactured from natural polylactides and copolymers, from wheat and corn. “The PLA’s are a diverse […]

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Mulch and Soil Council Calls for Public Comment; Affects Composts

April 26th, 2004

The Mulch & Soil Council has invited public comment on proposed revisions to its “Uniform Product Guidelines for Horticultural Mulches, Growing Media and Landscape Soils”(UPG). The UPG provides voluntary industry standards for mulch and soil product nomenclature and labeling and serves as a mandatory compliance standard for all companies seeking MSC product certification (see prior […]

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USDA NOP Releases Compost Tea Task Force Report

April 13th, 2004

The NOSB Compost Tea Task Force released its report today (posted at USDA NOP . The report makes recommendations on handling and regulation of compost teas. Tea use has grown dramatically among growers in recent years. The Task Force report cautions about compost teas made with added sugars or molasses. Such teas must be treated […]

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Solvita Maturity Index for Compost Odor and Air Pollution Estimation

April 9th, 2004

Recent changes in California solid waste emission rules, and some efforts by Maine DEP to upgrade rules in order to reduce compost odors, provide insights into the significance of compost stability measurements. “Stabilized compost” in California means the product has reached a “reduced biological activity” determined either by pile-heat (

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Michigan State Hygiene Symposium looks at manures, composts and organic farming.

March 31st, 2004

Organic food differs from conventional food in the ways it is grown, processed and distributed. This international conference focused on the challenges faced and initiatives taken to address important food safety, quality, and other issues affecting organic food producers. Papers presented included many concerning pathogen content in manures and composts, survival in soils, washing techniques […]

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Swiss Bann on Biosolids in Agriculture Slowly Taking Force

March 20th, 2004

The ban in Switzerland on utilization of sludges in agriculture has been slowly taking effect after a partial ban took force in May 2003 for all sludge uses in forage and vegetable production. The remainder of farmland use will become ineligible for sludge completely by 2006, with some exceptions granted for very small wastewater plants […]

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Woods End to Offer Lab Test Package To Comply With Test Rules of Compost Labels

March 17th, 2004

Woods End will be offering a unified analytical package that will enable composters to complete the lab test requirements of atleast four nationally recognized compost quality assurance and certification programs. “Composters can now avail themselves of one or more approval programs without the costly fuss of possibly duplicating tests or trying to figure out the […]

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United Kingdom set for huge expansion of recycling and composting

February 20th, 2004

Attendees of the Harrogate Conference (18-20 Feb 2004) were plunged into stunning European political strategies for improved diversion of waste from landfills. The UK has fallen behind in meeting Brussel’s directive for Landfill reduction, which stipulates 25% reduction of landfilling over 1995 levels by May 2004, 50% reduction by 2007, and 65% reduction by 2014. […]

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PEI Companies, Irving, McCain Ban Compost in Potato Agriculture

February 18th, 2004

As a result of evidence for sharps and contaminants in some composts, some major potato processor companies on Prince Edward Island, Canada sent out letters to growers indicating potatoes would not be accepted which have been grown on compost. Grounds for the rejection are the additional liabilitiy insurance to cover risks, according to some public […]

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Woods End Research shows plant tolerance thresholds for boron in composts

January 29th, 2004

In a paper offered at the USCC Annual Compost Symposium in Las Vegas (Jan 2004) Brinton and Evans of Woods End presented findings of their investigation of boron behavior in composts that have been amended with coal fly ash. “Other sources of high boron could be MSW and treated-gypsum” Brinton told the audience. Compost which […]

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EPA Proposes Rule to Spur Compost Procurement; Raises Ire of Organic Growers

January 19th, 2004

In a December 10, 2003 Rule Action, EPA proposes a simplification of terms designating “recovered organic materials” in an attempt to improve procurement protocols when government buys recycled products. The result is to include manure and biosolid composts under a single “compost” definition as leaf&yard waste products and to allow all such materials be designated […]

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Erosion Control Properties of Compost, Bark Examined by MDOT, Woods End

December 26th, 2003

Woods End has submitted a final report to Maine DOT comparing erosion control traits of current BMP’s (such as shredded straw) with compost and various thicknesses of bark-flume grit mixes. Water quality was examined by collecting runoff from 3:1 slope plots in Kents Hill, ME (see photo) which were observed during 10 storm events over […]

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WSDA Organic Advisory Board Suspends Compost Clopyralid Ban

November 19th, 2003

In a series of meetings begun in June and culminating in George, Washington on Oct 23, 2003, the WSDA Organic Advisory Board voted to rescind a zero-tolerance restriction on compost containing clopyralid. The restriction was in place since 2002 and meant that no compost testing at any detect level with clopyralid could be used under […]

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Soil-Agronomy-Crop Science Convention Draws Compost Scientists

November 6th, 2003

Compost-oriented scientists were numerous in the roster of posters, papers and audience at the Annual ASA-SSSA-CSA meetings in Denver CO, Nov 2-6. The list of abstracts is available from the convention website (see SSSA) or in a ASA CD. In the S-8 division papers, Brinton of Woods End presented analytical findings comparing two data sets […]

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WRAP Report on Compost Stability Released; Pans SOUR and SOLVITA tests

October 10th, 2003

The Waste Resource Action Programme (UK), contracted by government to promote recycling, and more recently to spur composting which in the UK lags far behind the rest of Europe, has released a study on stability testing of compost. The report was sub-contracted to ADAS, which examined various tests for compost stability and maturity. (see news […]

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Woods End Questions Methodology in Oregon DEQ Clopyralid Study

September 18th, 2003

Woods End has released a report with concerns about methodology and interpretation of clopyralid in composts as highlighted by an Oregon DEQ study: “The Oregon study is an excellent jumping off point to address a variety of scientific issues ..” the authors write. Woods End has evaluated fate and effects of environmental contaminants in composts […]

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Sustainable Composting in the Vineyard, by Brinton & York.

September 3rd, 2003

What do French Terroir and composting have in common? In a new article, Will Brinton and Alan York explore composting of grape pomace in vineyards as a means to attain site-specific quality. The story is a two-part feature in Practical Winery & Vineyard (San Rafael). “This is not an ordinary article about the benefits of […]

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Compost Fares Poorly in Danish Life-Cycle Analysis

August 28th, 2003

Denmark’s environmental protection agency has released a life cycle environmental assessment of household organic waste options. The report has contributed to a government decision not to promote a large shift from incineration towards composting or anaerobic digestion. Accoridng to the study, overall environmental impacts of digestion and incineration are about equal, while composting is the […]

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Compost Tea Research Updated- Shows Little Benefit to Aeration Technology

August 5th, 2003

Woods End scientists completed a compost tea study which suggests that forced aeration of the tea has no significant effect on longevity or survival of potentially pathogenic E. coli present in compost teas. The project tested commercial tea extraction equipment and compared to European methods in which there is only intermittent stirring. “Since E. coli […]

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Scientists Convene on Topic of Bioassays and Clopyralid Fate

July 21st, 2003

Scientists met today in Puyallup, Washington to discuss clopyralid residues in compost. Present were Woods End Laboratory, Dow Agro Sciences, WSU-Puyallup, WSU-Pullman and the Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Wenatchee. Woods End presented biodegradation data showing clopyralid half-lives ranging from 8 to 109 days, described as “similar” to soil study results. “Based on these data […]

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NY Times Questions Safety of Sewer Sludge on Farm Land

June 26th, 2003

Using language reminiscent of the 70’s, NY Times reporter Jennifer Lee wrote today in NY Times about farms in Georgia where “sewer sludge” spread on fields has resulted in animal deaths. The report describes a farmer who recently received $550,000 in a jury trial where sludge spreading allegedly caused the death of all his cows. […]

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Ohio State University Publishes Solvita Test Validation

June 20th, 2003

Researchers at OSU have completed and published a full validation study of Woods End’s Solvita compost maturity test kit. Preliminary results of the research were first presented at the International Compost Symposium at OSU in May, 2002. The full paper is published this month in Compost Science and Utilization. “We’re very impressed by the Solvita […]

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How Safe are Compost Teas? Tea Task Force Kicks off Review Process

June 1st, 2003

A Compost Tea Task Force has been formed under USDA’s NOP to examine potential risks of pathogen content in prepared compost teas. The Task Force will consider if new specific rules and guidelines are required to assure public safety for organic farming. The Task Force will look at various compost tea technologies, comparing US and […]

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Compost Quality Program Upgraded to Set Application Limits

May 13th, 2003

New application-rate control measures were introduced by Woods End this week, as part of the compost Quality Seal of Approval program. Together with Rodale OG, a nationwide gardening magazine, Woods End administers the Rodale Seal of Approval (“RSAP”) with two levels of award for quality of products. Woods End also administers its own “QSAP” process […]

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Europe Asks What is Valid Waste Recovery?

March 29th, 2003

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB Brussels) released on March 27, 2003 a discussion paper on proposed criteria to define waste recovery versus waste disposal. Disposal is considered in a highly restricted category. « Credible recovery can only work once a serious waste prevention policy is established » said the director of the EU EEB. « This is not […]

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Soil Microbe Communties- Are they as Simple as Some Believe?

March 25th, 2003

At a recent Ecological Landscaping Conference in Massachusetts, Woods End presented a paper that questions popularized notions of the soil-compost "food web". These new theories use idealized ratios of fungi-bacteria and imply that growers and composters can manipulate or "fine tune" these ratios, such as with dilute compost teas. But is this a simplistic approach? […]

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Data on Clopyralid Effects Presented in Sacramento to CA-DPR, CIWMB

March 14th, 2003

CALIFORNIA agencies DPR and CA-IWMB held a stakeholder mtg in Sacramento concerning regulating clopyralid residues in composts. CCQC gave results of recently completed analyses for clopyralid in 26 composts. Dr. Brinton of Woods End presented research conducted on degradation and soil-plant effects. Brinton concluded that clopyralid does degrade in compost and exhibits dissipation rates similar […]

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Manure Proficiency Program Upgraded: CO State, Univ. Minn.

February 18th, 2003

Thanks to an EPA grant the Manure Analysis Proficiency (MAP) Program formerly operated by Jerry Floren of University of Minnesota has been combined with Robert Miller’s Colorada State NAPT Program to form a revised and upgraded proficiency testing. Woods End participates in the MAP process. Labs participating in NAPT and MAP have “most of the […]

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PA DEP Issues First On-Farm Composting Permit

February 14th, 2003

A Farm in Montgomery County, has received the first On-Farm Composting General Permit issued by DEP. The On-Farm general permit allows for composting of manures, yard waste, source separated food scraps from markets, grocery stores, food banks, food distribution centers, school cafeterias and institutions, source-separated newspaper and cardboard. The permit process was developed to provide […]

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Viticulturalists Debate: How Much Compost?

January 30th, 2003

At the 1st Annual Alternative Viticulture convention held Jan 27-28 2003 in Harrisburg PA, growers and scientists discussed among other topics the merits of compost usage for nutrition and disease control in vineyards. Compost tea use as a natural fungicide was debated and scientists queried: how much of the reported benefits have been confirmed scientifically? […]

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January 14th, 2003

“The region’s composting industry generally lacks air pollution controls and is a significant source of air pollution,” the Southwest Air Quality Management Bureau announced today. “Each industry must do its part to help us achieve clean air.” Starting in July chipping and grinding businesses which process green waste for use as composting feedstock, must limit […]

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Compost Quality Seal Accepted for Organic Certification

January 9th, 2003

The Woods End/Rodale compost Seal of Quality will be accepted by The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener Association as equivalent to organic verification of compost. MOFGA is a USDA-NOP approved organic certifier. Under the NOP-rule, compost applied to crops within 150 days of harvest must meet specific criteria. The agreement was reached between MOFGA Technical […]

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Sudden Oak Death in Compost? Researchers, Regulators Converge

January 4th, 2003

With the sweep down the west coast into California of Phytophthora ramorum induced Sudden Oak Death, and the spread of the wood disease to multiple other tree species, including Redwoods and Fir, authorities are considering imposing sweeping quarantines for wood products, including composts. In California most composts are primarily of a mulch/wood-like nature. The disease […]

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Earth, Plant and Compost Published

November 25th, 2002

A new book by Woods End exploring composting for farming and gardening was released today, according to Woods End. Dr. Brinton edited the work which spans 2 decades of European and USA effort with composting for gardeners, farmers and food-waste programs. Originating in Swizterland, at the Research Institute for Biological Husbandry where Brinton studied as […]

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Compost Microbiology Laboratory to Open

November 23rd, 2002

Woods End announced it will re-open its Droffner microbiology laboratory on Jan 2, 2003. The redesigned lab which was directed by Dr. Mary Droffner from 1992 through 1997, will feature compost and waste microbiology analyses. “New challenges are emerging in understanding microbial traits of composts and organic wastes”, according to Woods End. New streamlined analyses […]

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CA Report Available which Confirms Benefits from Mature Compost

November 19th, 2002

A (CIWMB Jul 2002)CA research report has characterized three compost types produced with green waste, blends of green waste and poultry manure, and poultry manure. The report evaluated the use of the CCQC maturity index which Woods End among other labs worked on in 2001. The study by Buchanan Associates determines effect of compost characteristics […]

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What’s in an Eco-Label? Tufts University Conference Explores

November 7th, 2002

In recent years there has been a proliferation of labels for foods said to have been produced in an environmentally and socially preferable way. These “ecolabels” deal with areas such as consumption of renewable resources; soil, air and water pollution; biodiversity and wildlife; farm animal welfare; and social justice and equity. How legitimate are these […]

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UK Report on Compost Standards reviewed by Resource Recycling Magazine

October 25th, 2002

Resource Recycling editor Timothy Krause has prepared a review (Resource Recycling, October 2002) on the European WRAP reports concerning compost standards. Woods End’s Brinton was one of seven international authors of the report (the full set of documents are available from the WRAP website in the UK www.wrap.uk). The overall report covers standards in 18 […]

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MSW Compost: Micro-Fine Plastic Fragments Examined

May 14th, 2002

In a paper presented at Ohio State University’s International Compost Symposium, Woods End scientists reveal a surprising quantity of very fine plastic fibers and glass fragments in MSW composts. These “inerts” are not biodegradable or screened by conventional methods. Woods End revealed the fragments by means of 30-100x photo-microscopy and hi-resolution scanning-electron-microscopy (SEM). “Once you […]

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Farm Systems using Compost Score High in Soil Quality Traits

May 10th, 2002

A Swiss study published this week in Science reveals numerous benefits to soil systems where among other factors compost is routinely included as part of the farming system, such as in biodynamic practice. The Swiss Research Institute for Biological Farming (Frick, Switzerland) presents findings from a 20 year comparison of differing farm systems, and examines […]

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NOSB Compost Task Force Presents Findings

April 17th, 2002

The NOSB group that assembled to examine the issues behind the new USDA NOP Compost Rule has developed a final position paper, presented at the annual NOSB meetings in Austin, Texas. The document adds modifying interpretation to USDA’s NOP compost definition that triggered a wave of concern among growers across the country. Areas which the […]

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Herbicide Compost Concentration Tables published

April 15th, 2002

Woods End published today research findings and data computing field effects of herbicide contaminated composts when applied at various rates. The report summarizes results of two comprehensive studies performed in Woods End greenhouses and growth-chambers in whic crop response to applications ranging from of 10-200 tons/acre of composts with and without herbicides ranging from 60 […]

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UK study shows unstable organic additions to soil increase denitrification rate

February 14th, 2002

Researchers in Belfast at the Irish Dept of Agriculture showed recently that readily decomposable C in organic manures when applied to soil enhances denitrification of existing NO3. Although not dealing with composts per se, the researchers utilized raw manure slurries which by nature of being raw measurably increase oxygen tension in soils after application. Depletion […]

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Bioassays Developed to Detect Herbicide Residues.

December 10th, 2001

Woods End scientists are examining plant bio-assay methods in an attempt to detect traces of bio-active herbicides that can are present during and after the composting process. “Herbicide residues in compost from certain source materials such as grass clippings may explain apparent phytotoxicity previously attributed to other factors”, says Dr. Brinton of Woods End. Certain […]

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Compost May Deprive Roots of Oxygen, Studies Show

November 20th, 2001

At the recent compost symposium (Innsbruck, Austria) Woods End  presented new findings showing just how container grown plants may be harmed by immature composts. By varying the maturity of container media, the effects on roots, tops and oxygen levels could be carefully studied. Immature compost deprived the media of interstitial oxygen throughout the growing period. […]

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Europe’s Eco Label Program lists the Solvita Maturity Test

November 1st, 2001

The European Eco-Label scheme for compost classification has published its latest guideline. At the core of the Eco-label seal are different product groups for which analytical criteria have been developed. The Soil Amendments group includes all compost products and potting mixes and has been a focus of recent revisions, lead by an Italian scientific team […]

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Studies raise issue of metal toxicity of Cu, Mn to plants

February 1st, 2001

Recent published reports concerning potential bio-activity of various heavy metals in soils and from organic amendments raise new concerns about phytotoxicity, especially where intensive soil management is concerned. Hue et al. (Soil Sci. J. Vol 65:2001) show how applications of organic matter either as green manure, organic molecules or bio-solids enhance release and toxicity of […]

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OG Compost Survey Raises Questions on Compost Quality

June 14th, 1999

In a recent article (Jul/Aug, 1999) Organic Gardening editors investigate the quality of many commercial composts as sold across the USA. Samples of products were randomly acquired and send coded to Woods End’s Lab in Maine for standard analyses. The results showed enormous variations in basic traits including salt, pH and especially organic content. Woods […]

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