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.
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.
Gary Felton (recent retirement)
General Composting Principles
- On-Farm Composting: A Guide to Principles, Planning & Operations
- Using Composted Biosolids in the Production and Maintenance of Ornamental Plants FS-501
- Composting Dead Birds: FS-537
- Composting Animal Mortalities on the Farm: FS-717
- Composting Catastrophic Event Poultry Mortalities: FS-723
- Guidelines for In-House Composting of Catastrophic Poultry Mortality: FS-801
- Cornell Waste Management Institute - Fact sheet, videos and other materials: Natural Rendering: Composting Livestock Mortality and Butcher Waste
- Minnesota Department of Agriculture: Composting Animal Mortalities
- VA Tech: Composting as a Large Animal Mortality Disposal Option in Shenandoah County
- Guidelines for Composting Large Animal Mortalities in Maryland: FS-2
- Washington State University: Extension’s Large Animal Composting Guide
Food Waste Composting
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
- Maryland Department of Agriculture: Backyard Composting
- Maryland Department of Environment: Solid Waste Section
- 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