How Do I Know If I'm Getting Good Finished Compost?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    This is the compost that is used by the 'construction yard' to enhance the mixture of their 3 levels of topsoil... if there is concern for e-coli in the pure compost,,, there would be a necessity to test all the topsoil as well...

    I thought the chief purpose of compost is to add OM to the turf and the resultant microbes would define the future soil structure of the lawn...
    Are not the microbial populations going to change from the habitat of pure compost once they are spread out in the variable environment of all the different lawns???
    What does the microscope tell you???
     
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    The compost that I've gotten from the local yard, looked OK and sure enough it was... the results on the turf have been excellent so I guess my judgement was adequate... it didn't stink and the material was mostly unidentifiable...

    It was a big risk to take!!! or was it??? :)
     
  3. HayBay

    HayBay LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Posts: 846

    Im not promoting this guy. But my scope Tim set me up with is top notch. The usb camera he sells with the scope is the only way to go.

    I am truly surprised that these images are not posted and discussed here. It could be a whole new STICKY thread in the sub forum listing.

    :)

    Regarding the thread topic:
    We have a good supplier here of these products, most products come with a printed copy of guaranteed analysis.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    Perhaps the better way to put it, is how do I know if I'm getting bad compost??? compost always seems to do what is expected and my biggest concern is weed seed... if the stuff don't stink when wet, I can't imagine that anything is wrong...
    The bugs that you're looking at from the compost pile, will not very likely be living there when applied to the lawn, so to me the population existing in the pile is irrelevant... is that an error??? :)
     
  5. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,567

    Yes that is an error.
     
  6. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    One example as to "Why, it is in error" would be fine... nothing too involved or complicated, but something to let the client know that there can be some bad results for dumping decayed organic matter on the lawn...
    Even though it seems well digested and doesn't stink, what could possibly go wrong??? thanks in advance... :)
     
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,567

    I was replying to this statement:
    The bugs that you're looking at from the compost pile, will not very likely be living there when applied to the lawn, so to me the population existing in the pile is irrelevant... is that an error???
    IMHO, your conclusion is incorrect. A certain portion of the microbial population will survive in the soil. The microbiology in the compost is very relevant and depending on it's make up will be detrimental, neutral or beneficial to soil and plant health.
     
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,080

    I know that, that is the belief system I was more interested in an actual example... I don't know of any well rotted organic matter, that doesn't stink that would be detrimental to the plants...

    That was the real world example I was asking about... again thanx for that information... :)
     
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 18,298

    Since the microbes aren't "real world" (according to axe), how does one go about determining EC by looking at a pile of compost?
     
  10. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,567

    A client of mine had been using compost for topdressing lawns and was not getting very good results. When he had the compost tested the results showed it was highly fungal which would have been great if he was using it for trees.
    Turf prefers a 1:1 ratio of bacteria to fungi. He found another compost source that met this criteria and got much better results.

    You can use science to fine tune compost, depends upon what level you want to take it to.
     

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