June 7, 2022 | Composting, Markets, Policies + Regulations, Soil Health

Comment By June 16 On Proposed NRCS Soil Carbon Code

Top: Compost is utilized for fertility for row crops on Gardens of Eagan farm in Eureka Township, Minnesota.

The US Composting Council (USCC) issued a call to action on a set of regulations — Carbon Soil Code 336 — proposed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that would add compost and biochar as Conservation Practices for financial assistance for farmers across the country. NRCS is seeking comments via the Federal Register, which must be submitted by June 16, 2022. “We believe that having compost added within NRCS’ codified standard practice would help to level the playing field with other agricultural inputs,” notes Frank Franciosi, USCC’s Executive Director. “It also would help compost become an accepted commodity in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s grant programs, including the recently announced ‘American-made’ grants becoming available this summer.”

To facilitate submitting comments in support of the standard, the USCC created a prewritten message available at this link. The Council also provides background on how the standard evolved: “Including compost application as a qualified NRCS Conservation Practice Standard began in California in 2015 with formal field trials which tracked effects of a half-inch application of compost on rangelands across the state. Following these trials in California, NRCS added compost as Interim Practice 808. This enabled further testing of compost on farm and rangeland and added compost to a number of other Conservation Practices for which farmers and ranches can apply for federal financial assistance, such as no-till and crop rotation.

“Over the course of 2021, 10 other states added it as an interim practice. At the request of Vermont, biochar was added to Interim Practice 808. At the national level USDA held a public comment period for Interim Practice 808 (PDF file will download) in 2020-21 to prepare for eligibility as a national reimbursement program. USDA has now modified the original 808 Interim Practice as a new standard called Conservation Practice Standard Soil Carbon Amendment Code 336, (PDF file will download) revising it based on the comments received on the interim 808 practice.”

The USCC submitted a number of comments during the public comment period for Interim Practice 808 regarding compost application, which have been integrated into the practice and are part of the proposed Code 336. Comments included clarification of the definitions of compost maturity and stability and nutrient management, and recommendations for application of high lignin and cellulose carbon amendments. To get involved in and support the USCC’s advocacy initiatives, visit this webpage.

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