Owing to the variability of source ingredients that go into it, and the process itself, completed composts require diverse lab testing  before proper use in agriculture and horticulture.

WHAT IS IT? Compost is not a single product nor a specific chemical composition. It results from a degradation process . This is not predetermined in any way.  Rather, compost as a product may be best defined as organic matter in a variable stage of decay, and intended to be fairly stable.  The original ingredients should not be easily distinguishable in the final product, yet the composition will reflect all the input minerals and the organic matter to some extent. In fact, composting concentrates many ingredients resulting in accumulation of minerals and potentially of contaminants, especially metals.

LABORATORY PERSPECTIVE: Woods End offers specialized and skillful analysis aimed at “deciphering” the compost process and correctly categorizing the product. While complex, composting leads to a simple end, often resembling soil. Is it a fertilizer or a mere soil amendment? Woods End tests distinguish the dynamic process and the quality of the end product whether intended for growing media or soil amending.

POPULAR, BUT MISUNDERSTOOD: While popular, compost is easily misrepresented both by lay-persons and scientists. The unfortunate result of ambiguity and soft-science is that compost is poorly appreciated as a professional growing media due to recycling “hype”, and often poorly suited as a soil quality building product, due to instability, odor and pathogens. Within certified organic farming, special attention is accorded to compost for some of these reasons, but there is absence of good data separating compost qualitatively from raw products.

Woods End divides the the testing of composting and compost into three categories:

  • Source materialsPre-composting”. Tests to characterize ingredients.
  • Composting  Process Active State“:  Tests to manage quality during the process.
  • End product – “Completed State” – Tests to evaluate the end-product, such as nutrient value, stability, herbicide contamination.

For an Overview of Available Analyses, go to the HOME page and click on Downloads. NOTE: lab tests have changed significantly in advance of the 2015 season. Our most popular new set of tests is for short-chain fatty acids present in food waste composts.

To Evaluate What you Need: Please contact us (or call 207 293 2457) for a no-obligation discussion of your testing needs.

Laboratory Certificates and Approvals

Woods End maintains appropriate laboratory inspections, approvals and certifications, principally related to soils and manures. There is no official or authorized approval program for compost testing. The laboratory is USDA-APHIS inspected (we do not accept foreign compost or manures).  Woods End is OMRI recognized for organic amendment testing (final approval is an OMRI process). Other lab certifications and approvals are: ALP (Agricultural Laboratory Proficiency) for soil testing.  For the previous decade the lab has been enrolled successfully in the  CAP (Compost Analysis Proficiency) program, the BPI approval system for biodegradability of PLA plastics, and theMAP Manure Analysis Proficiency certification. Please consult the lab for information on relevant programs.

Are You Satisfied with your compost product?
Woods End will help you find the right one – or create it.