Compost Process Characterization

Composting – an open process. Unlike soil, compost – whether active or finished – is remarkably rich in carbon-containing organic matter and exhibits enhanced biological activity lasting for years. Compost undergoes biochemical changes in a day that soils may only exhibit over an entire season. From an environmental perspective, compost is remarkably unstable and non-steady state. But this property can be exploited to many advantages in farming and for remediation. Woods End is the laboratory to consult regarding compost activity and stability. The lab has over years developed a variety of advanced methods to characterize “decay half-life”, carbon-mineralization characterization and nitrogen stability.

Experience and Research: Woods End Lab has operated an active compost analytic section alongside its soil testing since the 1980’s, and may be America’s first dedicated compost analysis lab. Over the years we have mapped-out many of the forces and factors that influence final compost quality. From this we have arrived at a set of high-level tests which focus on the most pertinent traits in view of agricultural and horticultural end-use.

Carbon Quality Parameters: Beginning in 2018, Woods End lab will focus exclusively on traits of compost that cannot be easily analysed at other labs.

  • Extent of degradation: Concentration of Ash vs carbon-residues, hourly, daily and monthly C-respiration rates
  • Stability of Nitrogen, N-volatization and CO2:NH3 ratio for maturity
  • Anthropogenic contaminants; plastic, glass, plant-active chemicals
  • Decay rate kinetics of man-made ingredients (textiles, bioplastic, agri-chemicals) present in or added to composts

The Science of Compost decay: The science of biodegradation as reflected in high-carbon materials like compost is a dynamic and changing field. Composting was originally a farmer-based innovation for managing the return of nutrients and organic matter to soils, originating within the organic farming movement. Now it holds much broader significance in view of carbon-management and the ability to interact strongly but temporarily with soil-pant systems.

Carbon and the Environment: Woods End Labs employs principles of holistic science management against a GLP lab background to evaluate and solve tricky issues regarding interactions with the environment.  These range from oxygen consumption to carbon-mineralization/sequestration and ammonia stabilization.

Open Source to Innovation: The combination of an “open-source” framework for research-grade testing and broad experience in the characterization of carbon soil-amendments means that Woods End lab is able to skillfully pin-point the needed analysis framework. The result is that clients of Woods End move rapidly forward in appropriately characterizing their process and product potential.

Contact us: Email us with a list of your needs and we’ll respond with some suggestions for a test-regimen. Please do not mail samples to Woods End without prior project type approval!

Woods End conducts process studies for compost ingredients to evaluate turnover rate of carbon and interaction with the environment.