Chapter 10

Compost Management on Organic Farms

Compost Application Rates

Just as with other fertilizer products, it is important to understand the rate of fertilizer desired and the availability of the fertilizer for uptake by the crops, prior to determining application rates. Compost application rates in fields, orchards, and vineyards are dependent upon the nutrient content of the compost and the amount of those nutrients required per acre or per plant, according to plant and soil analyses. Before determining rates of application it is advisable to have the most recent results of petiole or leaf nutrient analysis, soil nutrient analysis, and the nutrient analysis of the compost to be applied. Compost producers may have an analysis available, and most state or university soil laboratories can test plant and soil samples for a fee. In general, application rates of compost are limited to the rate of nitrogen desired, because nitrogen tends to stimulate vegetative growth more than other nutrients. If crop growth is adequate or more vigorous than desired, and soil and petiole tests show adequate nitrogen, then adding compost may exacerbate the problem. If nitrogen levels are low and crop growth is less than desired, a measured application of compost may be beneficial.

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