Policies To Put Carbon Back In Soils
Barriers impeding soil carbon storage

Carbon 180, the Center for Carbon Renewal, spent the last 3 years working with producers, local organizations, and policymakers in the Rocky Mountain states to understand how policies and science can modernize to support practices that put carbon back into soils.

Connections: Why Regenerative Agriculture Needs Recycled Organics
Sally Brown

The importance of recycled organics in regenerative agriculture needs to be understood, not only by the municipalities that manage the feedstocks, but also by climate strategists and most importantly, state and federal agencies. Part VII
Sally Brown

Connections: What’s Cooking?
Sally Brown

Finding the ingredients to make a potting mix that plants will love from Class A digested biosolids entails trying a range of recipes, sniff tests and parameter measuring.
Sally Brown

Connections: Too Much Nitrogen To Eat
Sally Brown

We’ve gone from famine to feast when it comes to nutrients to help plants grow. One example is nitrogen. Here’s a climate-smart strategy to wean off synthetic N by using the N in recycled organics.
Sally Brown

Draft Soil Enrichment Protocol Incentivizes Carbon Storage

The Climate Action Reserve (CAR) released a first draft of its new Soil Enrichment Protocol (SEP) on April 17th that gives carbon credits for regenerative farming practices.

Connections: Irrigation + Compost Math
Sally Brown

How much does adding compost to production agriculture soils reduce irrigation needs? Let’s do the math. Part V.2
Sally Brown

Connections: Why Compost Is Cheapest Irrigation System
Sally Brown

The bottom line is more organic matter means that the soil holds more water. Part V.1
Sally Brown

Book Review: “The Waste Between Our Ears”
The Waste Between Our Ears

In times of rising heat, fire and rising waters, this new book by Gerry Gillespie presents recycling and composting as the means to achieve a zero waste economy.
Neil Seldman

Market Opportunities for Anaerobic Digestion In India
Market Opportunities for Anaerobic Digestion of Livestock and Agro-Industrial Waste in India

Under the auspices of the Global Methane Initiative, U.S. EPA developed a report, “Market Opportunities for Anaerobic Digestion of Livestock and Agro-Industrial Wastes in India,” to help inform project developers, policymakers, and other interested stakeholders about the potential for biogas capture and use in India.

Organic On The Front Line Of California’s Climate Resilience
Figure 1. Organics builds healthy communities from the soil up to the economy.

Fundamentally, organic farming practices, including use of compost, build healthy soils that store carbon and water — and yield food that builds healthy people.
Nora Goldstein

Food Waste Reduction Roadmap For Farms
WRAP's Hand-harvested crops grower guidance

New guidance released on March 17 by the United Kingdom’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) provides growers with advice on how best to measure food surplus and waste on farms to identify the causes — and to help inform where action is needed.

Seeking Farmer Perspectives On AD
Survey on “Farmer Perspectives & Investment in Anaerobic Digestion

Risa Lewis, an undergraduate in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources program at the University of Connecticut, has focused her senior thesis on on-farm anaerobic digestion in the Northeastern United States. A component of Lewis’ thesis is to conduct a survey on “Farmer Perspectives & Investment in Anaerobic Digestion”.

Compost And Plant Disease Suppression
Magnification of pathogenic Rhizoctonia solani isolated from soil on an organic vegetable farm in Vermont.

A microbial, community ecology approach to design compost amendments creates more reliable and resilient methods to suppress globally distributed soilborne pathogens.
Deborah A. Neher
BioCycle November/December 2019

Innovating To Reduce Phosphorus Impacts
After 15 days of composting under negative aeration, separated dairy manure solids were put in a drying zone (to release steam and drive off moisture) under positive aeration with heated air.

Two companies are demonstrating the integration of composting and filtration technologies for the Vermont Phosphorus Innovation Challenge.
Brian Jerose
BioCycle September/October 2019

Composting In Brazil
The Tera Ambiental Ltda. facility (Jundiai, State of São Paulo, Brazil), which uses both turned windrows and aerated static piles, features a composting capacity of 90,000 tons/years.

Composting agro-industrial residuals — from livestock manure to sugarcane sludges — is on the rise, with compost utilized for agricultural production.
M.J. L. Beltrame, K. Goldschmidt Beltrame and F. Carvalho Oliveira
BioCycle September/October 2019

Is Organic Certification Right For Your Compost?
Number of certified organic farms by state, 2016

The ability to produce a ”Listable” product greatly depends on its input materials and how those are processed. Typical composts and digestates are relatively inexpensive to List.
Ron Alexander
BioCycle March/April 2019

Agriculture, Compost And Water Quality Intersections
Agriculture, Compost And Water Quality Intersections

A more defined connection between compost, soil health, and water quality is vital for inclusion in predictive watershed modeling and consequently, nutrient management plans.
Tom Zimnicki
BioCycle January 2019

Smithfield Foods Goes Big On Biogas
Preconditioned biogas from the farms is routed to Optima KV’s central gas clean-up facility (above) on Smithfield Foods’ property. The cleaned biomethane is pressurized to pipeline standards and sold to Duke Energy.

A commitment to anaerobic digestion on 90 percent of its hog finishing farms in 3 states was followed by formation of a joint venture with Dominion Energy, called Align Renewable Natural Gas.
Nora Goldstein
BioCycle January 2019

Digester Developer Finds Sweet Spots
Aerial photo of Crescent Farm facility.

Vanguard Renewables uses an “everybody wins” approach as it builds, owns and operates anaerobic digesters on dairy farms to process food waste and manure.
Nora Goldstein
BioCycle January 2019

Testing Vermicompost In Hydroponic Systems
Figure 1. Mean yield of lettuce grown in various ratios of hydroponic nutrient solutions and vermicompost (VC) teas

Alternative sources of nutrients such as organic-based vermicomposts could supplement a large portion of conventional fossil fuel-based hydroponic solutions.
N.Q. Arancon, John Dean Owens and C. Converse
BioCycle September 2018

Hyperlocal Food To Soil Loops
Food2Soil team (top, from left to right): Skyler Wilder, Richard Williamson, Tara Stowell, Sarah Boltwala-Mesina and Jennifer Linder. Signage (bottom) describes Food2Soil’s mission of recovering food scraps to make “soil food.”

San Diego nonprofit collaborates with local generators, growers and gardeners “to transform food scraps into social, environmental and economic goods for communities.”
Richard Flammer
BioCycle August 2018

Servicing Farms To Get Produce To Market
Boston Area Gleaners worked with The Food Project in Lincoln (MA) to glean butternut squash.

Professionally managed gleaning and value-added processing of gleaned harvests are contributing to enterprise creation and reducing the amount of food loss on farms. Part II
Marsha W. Johnston
BioCycle March/April 2018

Innovating To Reduce Wasted Food Left On Farms
Broccoli “fines”were a hit with Bon Appétit chefs, but the farmer recognized the volume of waste and changed processing equipment.

Gleaning and minimal processing have facilitated enterprise development and markets for edible produce that is unharvested or cosmetically imperfect. Part I
Marsha W. Johnston
BioCycle February 2018

Community-Scale Composting At Urban Gardens And Farms
Real Food Farm has established a model small-scale community-centered composting site in northeast Baltimore. A 5-bin rat-resistant system processes hundred of pounds of food scraps from the farm and its composting cooperative’s members.

The Neighborhood Soil Rebuilders program, developed by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, teaches community leaders how to compost locally in order to support food production.
Linda Bilsens Brolis
BioCycle January 2018

Farm Digester Developments
Figure 2. New farm digester projects vs. natural gas prices, 2000-2016

Conference presenters at BioCycle REFOR17 in Portland, Oregon discussed policies, trends and opportunities in the agricultural digester sector.
Nora Goldstein
BioCycle December 2017

Microscale AD In The High Country Of North Carolina
Figure 2. Zach Dowell's solar thermal AD design

To extend farmers’ growing season, project at Appalachian State University is evaluating heating options for microscale AD, including solar thermal and composting heat recovery.
Barry Febos and James Houser
BioCycle November 2017

Digestibility Of  Food Waste-Derived Animal Feed
Dried supermarket food waste processed using the mobile dehydration unit (top). Dried food waste mixed into a complete diet for growing pigs (bottom).

Research study measured digestibility of targeted high value nutrients in three food waste streams in pig-feeding trial.
David Russick and Pedro E. Urriola
BioCycle October 2017

On-Farm Composting Hits Zoning Hurdle
Howard County public hearing on a zoning regulation amendment (ZRA) for on-farm composting included testimony in support of the ZRA by Linda Bilsens Brolis of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (inset).

Under Maryland’s composting regulations, farms that meet the state’s exemption must still comply with local zoning ordinances.
Marsha Johnston
BioCycle October 2017

Poultry Litter Digestion And Digestate Analyses
Oril-Leader poultry farm AD system is the largest in Ukraine.

Data indicates codigestion with other substrates can improve biogas yield and quality. And most of the organic N is converted to ammonia, which can be converted to ammonium and nitrate by soil microbes. Part II
Craig Coker
BioCycle October 2017

Closing The Loop

Growing A Revolution, published in Spring 2017, examines how restoring fertility to soils can be done rapidly and effectively through recycling organic matter and regenerative farming practices.
David R. Montgomery
BioCycle September 2017

Compost Fares Well In Fertilizer And Soil Amendment Rules
What can be said legally about “compost” on a product label and/or promotional materials is determined by “Control Officials” within individual state Departments of Agriculture.

New definition for compost, and model language to exempt compost, biosolids and manure products, where warranted, under the Urban Landscape Fertilizer regulations, are among latest AAPFCO developments.
Ron Alexander
BioCycle September 2017

Poultry Litter Digestion
Poultry litter contains valuable major and minor plant nutrients, and a significant amount of energy.

Poultry litter — a heterogeneous and fairly dry mix that includes manure and bedding — can be diluted to improve its digestibility. Part I
Craig Coker
BioCycle September 2017

Integrated Solutions On Half-Acre Urban Lot
A greenhouse heated by passive solar and biothermal sources enables year-round food production.

Solar greenhouse, seasonal farm, and food scraps collection and management using microlivestock, insects and composting, are among the activities at educational facility.
Marsha W. Johnston
BioCycle August 2017

Small-Scale Anaerobic Digestion For Agricultural Waste Management
Figure 3: Specific investment costs per kilowatt of electricity depending on plant size

A study in Germany assessed performance of 10 farm digesters that utilize different engineering designs producing under 75 kW of electricity.
Sabrina Eichenauer
BioCycle August 2017

Connections: Biochar Knowledge Evolution
Sally Brown

Sally Brown
BioCycle June 2017

Connections: Soils Alive!
Sally Brown

Sally Brown
BioCycle May 2017

California Climate Smart Ag Initiative Launched
Cover crops in an orchard reduce soil erosion.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced creation of the Healthy Soils Initiative in 2015. A recent Summit brought stakeholders together to discuss implementation and funding.
Chelsea Mitchell
BioCycle March/April 2017

Mesophillic Static Pile Composting Of Animal Carcasses
Figure 1. Cross section of aboveground burial system

MSPC offers many of the benefits of traditional on-site burial while minimizing the potential for environmental impact.
Gary Flory and Robert Peer
BioCycle March/April 2017

Commercial Compost Application On Western Washington Farms
In the 2015 research trials, compost made from yard trimmings and food scraps was applied to fields at “Farm B” at a rate of 8.6 dry tons/acre.

WSU Cooperative Extension in Snohomish County’s Compost Outreach Project has worked with over
70 farmers since 2011 doing research trials and on-farm demonstrations.
Doug Collins, Hallie Harness and Andy Bary
BioCycle March/April 2016

Compost Use On Perennial Fruit Crops
Compost was applied to apple trees in the Okanagan Valley (first row of trees above).

Over a decade of research on application of compost to a variety of fruit crops shows range of benefits, including disease suppression and better crop use of nitrogen.
Peter Gorrie
BioCycle March/April 2016

Low Lead Poisoning Risk From Urban Gardening
Researchers found that plants actually take up very little lead in their stems and leaves, and are safe to eat.

Recently published journal article finds low risk of lead poisoning when growing food in urban soils. Using compost is a key tool in risk mitigation.
Nora Goldstein
BioCycle February 2016

Connections: Community Gleaning

Sally Brown
BioCycle February 2016

Compost And The Organic Farming Connections
Figure 1. Microbial seed treatment using freeze-dried compost on cucumber shows a dose response in the rate of application when attempting to suppress Pythium damping-off.

BioCycle talks to the Rodale Institute’s new executive director and its compost production specialist about composting and compost use in organic agriculture.
Nora Goldstein
BioCycle January 2016

Connections: Bolted Lettuce

Sally Brown
BioCycle January 2016

Compost’s Role In Potato Industry Sustainability
The average yield of potatoes grown in compost-amended soil (above) has increased by 15 to 20 hundred weight per acre.

Growers in New Brunswick, Canada, where the potato industry is struggling, have “an organic matter crisis.” Compost use trials have been underway for several years.
Peter Gorrie
BioCycle December 2015

Compost And The Battle Against Citrus Greening
Compost is being tested in a grapefruit orchard in trials comparing conventional practice using plastic mulch at the base of the trees (above) versus applying compost as a mulch. After 2.5 years, the trees with compost show, on average, a 38 percent increase in trunk diameter.

Reliable harvest data is still five to six years away, but plots where compost was applied are showing faster, healthier citrus tree growth.
Peter Gorrie
BioCycle November 2015

Preconsumer Food Scraps To Dairy Feed
Suppliers of food scraps fed to the dairy herd include bakeries, bread factories, produce packaging facilities and breweries (cupcakes and tomatoes shown).

San Diego County dairy farm captures more than 720 tons/month of preconsumer organics to feed its herd.
Rich Flammer
BioCycle October 2015

Compost Entrepreneuring In Nevada

Full Circle Soils and Compost focuses on making 100 percent specialty blends, based on specific soil analysis, “for any growing scenario.”
Dan Emerson
BioCycle October 2015

Compost Use Trials On Ontario Farms
Crops that need a lot of nitrogen, such as corn (above), may need commercial fertilizer in addition to compost. For orchard crops, such as cherries and apples, compost alone can provide all necessary fertilization.

Results find compost benefits are dependent on soil type, crops being grown and their nitrogen requirements, the soil’s need for organic matter and the weather.
Peter Gorrie
BioCycle June 2015

Connections: California Almonds

Sally Brown
BioCycle June 2015

Agricultural Demand For Compost In Metro Portland Region
Figure 1: Closing the loop between food production and food consumption

Economic analysis of compost supply, demand and utilization involved gathering data from various sources, including agricultural extension services, Metro and interviews with composters and farmers.
Jeri Sawyer, Bonnie Gee Yosick and Erin Harwood
BioCycle March/April 2015

Connections: Understanding Urban Soil Lead

Sally Brown
BioCycle December 2014

Leaf Composting Helps Preserve Family Farm
Panorama Pay-Dirt processes fall leaves, wood chips and some poultry litter in windrows on roughly 20 acres of gently rolling hills.

What began with a contract to compost leaves from the City of Charlottesville, Virginia has evolved into a sustainable soil amendment products company.
Ryan Cooper
BioCycle October 2014

Building Farm And Food Scrap Digesters
The new digester at Longview Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts has three receiving tanks for food waste. They are separated and stored based on their energy content.

A steady stream of anaerobic digestion facilities are coming on line, most equipped to process food waste. This first of a two-part series profiles several farm digesters. Part I
Nora Goldstein
BioCycle June 2014

Compost And Mulch Aid Drought Survival
The wheat yield increase across all harvests was 16 percent due to higher water holding capacity. (Image courtesy of King County Wastewater)

Composts and organics should be emphasized as much as efficient irrigation techniques to keep crops growing in these times of uncertain water supplies. Part I
Sally Brown
BioCycle March/April 2014

Cooperative Approaches To International Agricultural Biogas Projects
The BioSynergy digester site in Huimbayoc, San Martin (Peru) is providing 4 hours’ worth of energy daily to residents, a community center, school, clinic and church.

Small-scale digesters around the world offer many benefits to rural communities. Some employ cooperative approaches that result in large-scale benefits across the agriculture sector.
Allison Costa
BioCycle February 2014, Vol. 55, No. 2, p. 39