Managing Wastes: Composting and Land Application



*Ellen Harrison, Director, Cornell Waste Management Institute

100 Rice Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853

607 255-8576




Kevin Mathers, CCE Broome County

840 Front St, Binghamton, NY13905

607 772-8953 x130



The Managing Wastes PWT (MWPWT) continues to successfully engage diverse stakeholders including government agency personnel who are responsible for managing wastes, regulating wastes and funding waste-related research and outreach; livestock farmers; compost producers; and private consultants as well as Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and Cornell faculty and staff.  At a PWT meeting held in Syracuse in January, 2002, 20 such participants discussed proposed changes in the NYS Dept. of Conservation rules pertaining to composting and land application.  The meeting was widely advertised and was open to all.  Those who came expressed tremendous appreciation for the opportunity learn from each other.  Individuals then submitted their own comments to NYSDEC. An update from NYSDEC on the pending regulations was presented at the 11/07/02 Annual MWPWT meeting.


The annual meeting of the MWPWT was held on November 7, 2002 in Ithaca.  Attended by a mix of stakeholders as described above (22 in total), the group shared information about current projects and developments and developed a list of research and outreach needs. In addition to compost producers, livestock farmers and Cornell people, we are fortunate to have participation by the Director of the DEC Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials as well as the key NYS funders of composting work from Empire State Development and NYS Energy Research and Development Authority active in our PWT.


A disappointment has been the lack of engagement of the NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets in the MWPWT and its projects.  Some staff level involvement has taken place in projects related to use of composting to manage animal mortalities, but efforts to engage others at DAM in our PWT meetings and to include composts in the Pride of NY program have as yet been unsuccessful.  Since managing manure through composting is an important component of manure management for many farms, we will continue to seek that engagement.


Substantial progress on recommendations made at the 2001 MWPWT annual meeting has been made.  As an outcome of last year’s recommendations, a successful proposal involving multiple parties to investigate the impact of clopyralid (a herbicide used on turf) on compost was developed, but was scratched at the last minute since registration of the herbicide in residential settings was withdrawn by DOW.  Other priorities raised by the PWT are being addressed through two SARE proposals on composting of mortalities and butcher residuals (approved as preproposals and pending), an approved NYSERDA project involving numerous collaborators directed at working with the turf, landscaping and vineyard industries to enhance compost markets, and development of an “advanced short composting short course” planned for next autumn.


Increased collaboration with the Landscape Horticulture PWT and the Integrated Nutrient Management PWT has resulted in presentations at meetings and conferences, joint proposals for research and collaborative development of extension materials.  A new project involves close collaboration making use of the stakeholder relationships in the composting area and those in the landscape and turf area to work jointly to enhance markets for composts and to help compost producers make a product capable of meeting user needs (which vary according to the end market).


We continue to use email to facilitate communications and MWPWT materials are available on the WWW (through the Cornell Waste Management Institute www site at www.cfe.cornell.edu/wmi).