Compost testing

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Compost in Porter County makes the grade

Porter County residents who take advantage of free compost from two public compost sites for their gardens are taking home quality material, as reported by A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, Inc., a third party company hired by Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction to analyze the compost. 

According to the test results, compost available at the Boone Grove compost site meets the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance standards. There was no mature compost at the Valparaiso site to be tested in 2017. 

Though compost producers are not required to have their compost tested, meeting these standards identifies quality, so users know what they are getting. 

“Testing our product is a good way for us to validate our work,” said Therese Haller, executive director of Porter County Recycling & Waste Reduction. “The numbers are good. It meets the requirements for health, safety and maturity.”

In order to determine if the compost meets the standards of the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance, manufacturers are required to perform the C10 test that identifies and measures elements including solids, total nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, pH, soluble salts, organic matter, fecal coliform), germination, respiration and heavy metals. 

A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, Inc. is approved by the U.S. Composting Council for conducting this test.  

The district also sponsors the compost testing for three municipal sites that are not open to the public: Portage, Chesterton, Ogden Dunes and the Pines. While the district partners with these municipalities to help manage their material, site logistics prevent public access, and the municipalities control the distribution of their product.