Compost Project

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Composting is an important process for transforming potentially problematic "waste" products into valuable resources. Well-made compost is a cornerstone of ecological farming and gardening systems, serving to enhance the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil and is a source of essential plant nutrients, organic matter and beneficial soil microbes.

For over twenty years the Student Farm has composted manure and bedding material from campus animal facilities and kitchen scraps from the campus food facilities. We currently collaborate with ASUCD's Project Compost to produce several tons of high-quality compost each year, using two distinct systems: a "hot" turned windrow system and a "cool" vermicomposting (earthworm) system.

The "hot" systems mixes various portions kitchen scraps, straw and manure to produce sufficient compost to meet the compost needs of the farm, including in the Market Garden and research fields, as well those of several other campus units.

The vermicompost system produces significantly smaller amounts of compost (also known as worm castings) that makes up approximately 30 percent of the potting mix used in growing transplants and other plants in the greenhouse.

Students working in the compost projects gain valuable experience managing these systems, knowedge of compost quality factors and an understanding of environmental influences on composting processes. Our compost systems and finished compost have been used in various classes, in campus research projects, and by students conducting independent projects.

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For more information about compost-related activities, contact Mark Van Horn at (530) 752-7645 or mxvanhorn@ucdavis.edu.