Quality & Safety

 
 

U.S. Composting Council (USCC) Seal of Testing Approval (STA) Program

The only quality assurance program for compost as a commercial product.  Requires carefully documenting the chain of custody for all feedstocks and regularly testing samples at approved laboratories.  Look for this designation on any compost you buy from a commercial producer.


USDA National Organic Label: “Certified Organic”

Reserved for food and fiber products.  No compost product currently can be labeled “certified organic.”


Organic Materials Resource Institute (OMRI)

A commercial producer could qualify for this designation if it has a very careful input screening system and achieves high temperatures during the composting process.  The OMRI Listed® Seal is valued by organic food producers because it assures them the product has passed expert review for use in organic production.

 

Several US-based organizations provide protocols for

quality assurance and organic product certifications

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF COMPOST IS SAFE TO USE?


There are two keys to making great compost

1. Your “feedstock” - or the mix of stuff you put in

  1. 2.Your process - especially making sure the batch gets up to a high enough temperature for long enough to kill weed seeds and undesirable micro-organisms.  Don’t worry - the good micro-organisms survive. 

The STA (Seal of Testing Approval - see below) protocols assure you of exactly this.  To follow them yourself for backyard composting, however, would be a lot of work.  So:

  1. A. Be careful what you put in.

  2. B. Test the soil on top of which you are building your piles or bins.

  3. C. Make a big enough batch to allow it to really get cooking - at least one cubic yard.

Compost Testing

We will test any compost we sell by sending it to Penn State and then disclosing the results to you.  You can test your own home compost with Penn State’s  Agricultural Analytical Services Lab’s Compost Testing Program

You can also use the “seed germination” test to determine if your compost is safe to use.  Simply place a moist handful in a plastic baggie with a seed, and see if the seed germinates.  If it does, your compost is safe!