US Compost Council Consumer Compost Use Program

The US Composting Council has developed the Consumer Compost Use Program to provide the consumer with an easy to use guide for compost application in the home garden and landscape. Use of this product meets the acceptable parameter range for home tree and shrub establishment. Look for the Consumer Compost Use Program icons for other applications of compost use.


What is the Consumer Compost Use Program?

The Consumer Compost Use Program clearly identifies the types of uses that a compost product will be good for. Those uses are:

  • Trees & Shrubs
  • Flower & Vegetable Gardens
  • Lawn

Each compost use classification is represented by easily interpreted icons that reflect the compost’s use (or uses). Only compost producers in the Seal of Testing Assurance program can use these symbols, as they are tied to the STA analytical data. These icons are expected to become part of STA compost producers’ literature, websites and packaging, and will also be available as rack 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.” Frank Franciosi, USCC President.

STRIVE FOR 5%

Along with the Consumer Compost Use Program, the USCC will launch a ‘Strive for 5%’ campaign. This campaign is designed to reinforce the idea promoted by gardening experts that soils should contain at least 5% organic matter, and that to maintain or achieve this level STA compost is the product to use!

About the Consumer Compost Use Program

The Consumer Compost Use Program takes the USCC’s STA Program to the next level, and to the retail consumer, in an easy-to-understand format. The USCC created and has managed the Seal of Testing Assurance Program (STA) since 2000. The STA Program is a compost testing, labeling and information disclosure program whereby compost producers must test their compost anywhere from quarterly to monthly, based on production tonnage. The compost test suite, arrived at through a consensus process that included the leading compost research scientists and industry experts from across the US, includes chemical, physical and biological compost tests. It also includes EPA testing for health and safety standards (pathogens and metals). The results, along with feedstock information and specific compost use directions, are required to be disseminated to all prospects and customers.The STA Program has achieved a high level of success among professional users such as: Departments of Transportation (several specify STA compost ONLY for their landscape projects), landscape architects, landscapers, soil suppliers and others. The STA data, however, is just that; data available for interpretation by professional users. It is not a program designed for the retail consumer.

Compost can be purchased at landscape supply centers, nurseries and building supply centers in bulk or packages 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.

Soil Analysis: A soil analysis should be completed by a reputable laboratory to determine any nutritional requirements, pH, and organic matter adjustments that may be necessary. Once these are determined, the soil can be appropriately amended to a range suitable for the particular plants being established.  A list of state agricultural cooperative extension labs can be found at: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/index.html

Product Parameters Chart


*All federal and state standards related to biological and chemical contamination must also be met.


Lawn Class Establishment & Maintenance  

Applications
Establishment:
Compost should be uniformly applied over the entire area at an average depth of 1-2 inches and then incorporated to a depth of 6-8 inches using a rotary tiller or other similar equipment. Higher application rates of compost may be used if the compost is incorporated to a greater depth. Rake the soil surface smooth prior to seeding, planting or sodding. Always seed, plant or sod during the recommended period of time in your region. The soil surface should be free of large clods, roots, stones, and other material that will interfere with planting and maintenance. The amended area should be watered thoroughly after seeding, sodding or planting.

Flower & Vegetable Garden Establishment & Maintenance

Applications
Establishment:
Compost should be uniformly applied over the entire area at an average depth of 1-2 inches and then incorporated to a depth of 6-8 inches using a rotary tiller or other similar equipment. Higher application rates of compost may be used if the compost is incorporated to a greater depth. Rake the soil surface smooth prior to seeding or planting. The soil surface should be free of large clods, roots, stones, and other material that will interfere with planting. The amended area should be watered thoroughly after planting.

Tree & Shrub Class Establishment & Maintenance

Applications
Establishment:
Excavate a planting hole slightly shallower and 2 to 3 times the width of the root ball or container. Set the root ball on firm soil so that the top of the root ball sits slightly higher than the final grade. Uniformly blend compost with the excavated soil at one (1) part by volume compost to 2-3 parts by volume soil. Compost with higher amounts of salts and nutrients should be used at lower rates (e.g. 1:3 or 1:4 parts compost to soil). Backfill and firm the soil blend around the root ball within the planting hole. Always water thoroughly after planting. It should be noted that whenever possible, trees and shrubs should be planted in a mass planting bed, where multiple plants are established in a larger amended bed. This technique allows for greater planting success.

Lower compost application rates should be used for salt sensitive crops (e.g., conifers), or where composts possessing higher salt and nutrient levels are used, while higher application rates may be used for plants that require greater amounts of fertility.

PROGRAM CONTACT:

Hilary Nichols
Market Development Coordinator
Phone: 301-897-2715 ext. 3
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The USCC makes no warranties regarding this product or its contents, quality, or suitability for any particular use. Please refer to the individual producer’s product label for specific use instructions.