Composting is becoming the method of choice for converting organic waste into a marketable, commercial product. Service-providers in the horticultural industries, like nurseries, greenhouses, landscape contractors, garden centers, and landscape maintenance companies, are major users of organic matter and fertilizers. But getting these operations and their clientele to accept commercial compost alongside commonly used agents (such as fertilizers, processed manures, and peatmoss) requires controlled production conditions and standardized methodology.

Since commercial compost can be manufactured from a variety of waste materials, a variety of standards have been established based on end-uses. Managers of composting facilities must be familiar with these standards and with the waste materials and composting systems that can best produce the desired products. Composting to produce a product that is consistent in quality will require good management and quality control.

Mid-Atlantic Better Composting School (BCS)

Gary Felton was the main contact point for UMD's Mid-Atlantic Better Composting School (BCS) and has recently retired. The information on this page is for informative purposes and there are currently no current plans for another composting school.

Topics Include:
Introduction, Science of Composting, Processes and Equipment, Site Selection, Feed Stocks and Mixes, Composting Mortalities, Processes and Odor Control, Computer-Aided Recipe Making, Tour of 4-5 Commercial Composting Facilities, Collect Compost Samples for Laboratory, Health and Safety Issues, Compost Quality and Standards, Laboratory Procedures for Compost Quality, Compost Utilization, & Marketing and Economics.

Past Trainings:


Gary Felton (recent retirement)

Short Courses

Composting Short Courses:

Additional Resources & External Links

General Composting Principles


  • Using Composted Biosolids in the Production and Maintenance of Ornamental Plants FS-501

Mortality Composting

Food Waste Composting

Compost Overview

Pad Construction

Estimating Volumes and Areas

  • Determining the Amount of Manure in a Pile or a Pool: FS-176


  • Structures for Broiler Litter Manure Storage: FS-416

State Agencies

Home Composting

  • UMD Extension - has literature available concerning home composting, as well as many other topics to help manage turf clippings and other organic waste found around the home: The Home and Garden Information Center 


  • Vendors for Compost Thermometers: FS-1