Compost is decomposed organic matter, managed to:

  • grow beneficial microbes
  • concentrate nutrients
  • build humus

The benefits of compost as a soil amendment include:

  • improved soil structure
  • increased water holding capacity
  • improved soil aeration
  • slow-release fertility
  • stimulation of plant growth.

Compost can be made in open windrows or enclosed bins; both approaches can be found on the Cannon Hort Plots.

Composting, and field applications of compost, are regular parts of the fertility program on the Cannon Hort Plots. Both are commonly covered during beginning farmer and resilient farmer trainings.

Related Publications and Videos

Compost & Soil Humus Resource List

Extensive bibliography, step-by-step outline, and list of common materials giving carbon:nitrogen ratio for each.

Compost Presentation Notes

This handout includes a table of different compost feedstocks and their approximate carbon-to-nitrogen ratios.

Hot Composting with the Berkeley Method

This intern report describes the results of a summer project that attempted to make finished compost in 14 days using the Berkeley method.

On-Farm Composting and Vermicomposting

This presentation discusses the composting options for fertility in market farming/gardening.

On-Farm Mortality Composting of Livestock Carcasses

This is OCES Fact Sheet BAE-1749.  It has been used as a handout at several Kerr Center livestock workshops.    

Worming the Way to a Greener Future: Vermicomposting for Municipal Organic Waste Disposal

This paper, by a former Kerr Center intern, explores the pros and cons of large-scale vermicomposting.

Vermicomposting at Kerr Center I

Composting with earthworms– the basics. Consultant Luke Freeman explains how vermicomposting works and details of the Kerr Center project. The center’s Canon Organic Horticulture Project uses vermicompost in its soil building program. Also featuring Kerr Center intern Jon Pollnow.

How to Make Compost, with Luke Freeman

Learn how to make compost with Luke Freeman at the Kerr Center.

Vermicomposting II- Bins & Management

Discussion of vermicompost bins: commercial black plastic, cinderblock sides and straw/hay bale sides. Pros and cons of each, Kerr Center experience, and discussion of how to manage the worms.