More confidence needed for a compost market

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More confidence needed for a compost market

A recent study by Michigan State University Extension finds some farmers are apprehensive about using composted manure because they don’t see value in it.

Charles Gould tells Brownfield he compared perspectives of farmers, landscapers, and greenhouse and nursery operators from 2005 to 2019.

“The genesis for this study really was to help farmers identify the market that they want to sell compost to first, and then help them produce the type of compost they could move into those markets,” he explains.

Gould says unfortunately after 14 years of educational outreach on the benefits of using compost, the needle hasn’t really moved on implementation.

“I’m really not sure on why that hasn’t changed,” he says.

He says there are significant differences between applying manure and composted manure, including reduced order and smoother applications, but it takes more space and time.

“You take a little bit extra time, you make a good product, and you don’t apologize for the price that you ask—there’s a market for it,” he says.

He says the biology of compost brings increased microbial activity to fields and improves soil health which is a benefit respondents say they are willing to pay for.  In Michigan, farmers can also receive cost-share dollars for applying compost as it increases carbon content.

Gould says MSU is in the process of hiring a compost educator to work on expanding proven benefits and develop local markets across the state.

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