Resources for making and using compost
What is Composting?
Composting is the controlled management of a naturally occurring biological process called aerobic decomposition. When properly managed, composting microorganisms break down and stabilize organic materials over time to produce a uniform soil amendment and source of essential nutrients - compost.
Composting is an additional manure nutrient management and soil improvement tool for producers to consider.
For growing crops, vegetables or landscape plantings, compost is an excellent source of numerous essential nutrients and improves soil growing conditions.
As with all nutrient sources, compost and the soil it is being applied to should be sampled and analysed for nutrients, salts and other agronomic information to determine the proper application and soil mixing rate.
Is it Compost?
As established by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME), for organic materials to be considered fully composted, the following criteria are to be met:
Windrow temperature is to exceed 55°C for at least 15 days
Require at least five turning events during the 55°C + period
The final Curing Phase is to be at least 21 days
Compost is free of pathogens and meets trace element and foreign matter limits
Meets stability (“doneness”) requirements
Reduces manure mass and volume over ½ (lower hauling costs), concentrates nutrients
Eliminates unpleasant odours
Destroys weed seeds, parasites and pathogens
Source of stabilized slow-release nutrients
Stabilized nutrients reduces risk of loss to ground or surface water
Improves soil properties such as porosity/aeration, water infiltration and retention
capacity, soil organic matter content
Compost has a uniform, soil-like quality
N loss - Greenhouse gases and ammonia (NH3) gas are emitted during composting
Requires extra time, labour and resources
Additional equipment and space requirements
Subject to weather conditions - can result in large time delays
Resources for making, monitoring and using compost
FACTSHEET: BMPs for Composting Manure and Other Organic Materials
FACTSHEET: BMPs for Using Compost for Growing Vegetables
Composting calculator tool for determining starting material mixing ratios
Composting protocol (includes formulas for calculating moisture content, bulk density
and the self-heating test to assess compost stability and sampling procedures)
Windrow information and monitoring recording sheets (moisture and temperature)
Additional Composting Guides/Resources
Guidelines for Compost Quality, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
Composting Animal Manures, NDSU Extension Service. 2010.
On-Farm Manure Management Through Composting, Nova Scotia Agricultural College
Composting Mortalities, Manitoba Agriculture
Manitoba Livestock Manure and Mortalities Management Regulation, M.R. 42/98
Select Additional Information Resources
Soil and manure analyses (Winnipeg): Central Testing Laboratory Ltd. and Farmers Edge
Compost analyses (Ontario): A&L Canada Laboratories Inc.
Solvita compost maturity test kit (6 pk)