Our guest writer this month is Frank Franciosi. Frank is a Horticulturalist and Manager of Nature’s GREEN-RELEAF ® Compost. He has over 18 years experience in the composting industry and is currently President of the US Composting Council.
The United States Composting Council Introduces the Consumer Compost Use Program! Frank Franciosi, President U.S. Composting Council
How can the average homeowner tell if the compost they purchased is of any quality? How do they know if they can use it on their garden or landscape? How much should they use? Can they use it on flowers and vegetables? Will it work on the lawn and landscape?
The US Composting Council (USCC) has just developed an easy graphical icon program for the homeowner to use. They are pleased to announce the Consumer Compost Use Program. This program takes the USCC’s Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) Program to you the homeowner, in an easy to understand format.
The USCC created and has managed the STA Program since 2000. The STA Program is a compost testing, labeling and information disclosure program whereby compost producers test their compost anywhere from quarterly to monthly, based on their production rate. This compost testing protocol was derived through a consensus process that included the leading compost research scientists and industry experts from across the US.
The testing includes chemical, physical, and biological parameters for compost. It also includes EPA testing for health and safety standards (pathogens and metals). The results are presented, along with raw material (feedstocks) information and specific compost use directions. STA compost producers are required to provide this information to all end users.
The STA Program has achieved a high level of success among professional users such as; State Departments of Transportation, landscape architects, landscapers, soil suppliers and others. The STA data, however, is just that, data available for interpretation by professional users. It has not been a program designed for the homeowner.
The Consumer Compost Use Program will require compost producers that participate in the STA Program to link the analytical data to three compost use classifications. They are:
Trees & Shrubs
Flower & Vegetable Gardens.
Each compost use classification will be represented by easily interpreted labeling that reflect the use (or uses) of the compost product. These icons are expected to become part of STA compost producers’ literature, websites, and packaging, and will also be available on Compost Use cards in garden centers and nurseries.
We now have an easy way for the homeowner to identify quality compost products that can be applied to their specific gardening needs. The USCC will launch the Consumer Compost Use Program along with a ‘Strive for 5%’ campaign this fall. This campaign reinforces the fact promoted by gardening experts that soils should have 5% organic matter and that to maintain or increase to this level, STA compost is the product to use!
You will be able to purchase STA labeled compost, in bulk or in packages, at landscape supply centers, nurseries and building supply centers around the country. The use of STA compost will help consumers confidently achieve 5% organic matter efficiently and cost effectively by using compost produced from locally recycled organic residuals.
For additional information, please visit the US Composting Council’s website at www.compostingcouncil.org for more information on the Consumer Compost Use Program ‘Strive for 5%’, a list of STA compost producers, and all issues related to compost.
All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.
By Stacey Hirvela, Spring Meadow Nursery
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners/ColorChoice Shrubs
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