California Compost Symposium, Center for Sustainability, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

On March 28th, I attended the California Compost Symposium at Cal Poly’s Center for Sustainability, San Luis Obispo.


INTRODUCTION- ‘Compost: The Sustainable Solution’
Cary Oshins, Director of Education and Annual Conference, U.S. Composting Council
Dan Noble, Executive Director, Association of Compost Producers

Dr. Deborah A. Neher & Tom WeichtPlant and Soil Science Dept. & Soil Ecology and Biological Indicators Laboratory (SEBIL), University of Vermont

(PART I) ‘Understanding Soil Ecology & Its Role In Compost and Composting Methods

  • History of soil monitoring & our current state of knowledge
  • Overview of key organisms involved in nutrient cycling, decomposition and disease suppression
  • How soil biota regulate ecological processes
  • Biological ‘hotspots’ in soil
  • Use, reliability, pros and cons of common biological assessments
  • Interpretation of indices of soil ecosystem function

(PART II) ‘Scientific Advances in Understanding Compost Processes

  • Use of high throughput genetic sequencing in biological profiling
  • Evaluation of various biological indicators in compost
  • Decoupling the role of carbon and nitrogen (and understanding C/N ratios)
  • How the source of carbon in feedstocks impacts biology
  • Effect of the post-curing process on the microbial community
  • Designing compost for suppression of plant diseases
  • Effect of thermophilic composting on plant pathogens and weed seeds
  • Lessons regarding persistent herbicides and other issues in phytotoxicity


Speakers included:
Cristy ChristieSLO County Worm Farm

Dr. David CrohnAssoc. Professor and Extension Resource Conservation Specialist, UC Riverside
The Benefits of Compost and Considerations in Testing and Use
CROHN ‘Compost: What It Is and Why It Matters’
CROHN ‘Compost to Improve Post-Fire Water Quality’
CROHN ‘Compost Salts: Harmful or Beneficial for Plant Growth?’
CROHN ‘Compost: A Plant Biosecurity Measure’
CROHN ‘Compost: A Human Biosecurity Measure’ 

Tom HerlihyFounder and CEO of Worm Power, the world’s largest producer of vermicompost

Vince TyeOrganics Sales Manager at Recology, Inc.
TYE ‘Horizons in Food Waste Composting’ PRESENTATION

The day’s activities also included a demonstration on how to brew compost tea, a speaker panel, important industry updates, exhibits, lunch and an industry/community social mixer at the symposium’s conclusion.