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Composting workshop in Wooster

March 20, 2011
The Advertiser-Tribune

WOOSTER Ohio State University is planning workshop March 29-30 on the science, art and business of large-scale composting.

The Ohio Compost Operator Education Course is to take place at the university's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster.

It's an intensive program for compost facility operators and managers, public health officials, municipal solid waste managers and other professionals.

"This type of educational opportunity isn't available elsewhere in Ohio, and it's one of the leading programs in the nation," said Ohio State's Fred Michel, one of the course's instructors and an OARDC composting researcher.

Previous students have come from not just Ohio but from Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Ontario and beyond.

Teaching the course are to be OARDC scientists, Ohio State University Extension specialists, facility design engineers, compost industry regulatory personnel, compost facility operators and others.

Among the topics are composting principles, biology, methods, regulation, economics and marketing; site design and management; minimizing odors; using organic mulches in landscaping; creating value-added uses for compost; and lab exercises on fan efficiency, mixing ratios, the effects of turning, and compost sampling, testing, properties and stability.

"The most exciting and unique part will be the hands-on lab exercises that take place at the OARDC composting facility," Michel said. "The students will learn to conduct a variety of tests and analyses that will help them to efficiently and safely manage the composting process and produce composts that farmers and gardeners love and that plants thrive on."

Figures from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said commercial compost facilities in Ohio processed 2.6 million cubic yards of yard waste in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available an 18-percent increase from 2006. Yard waste is the most commonly composted material in the state.

Composting food waste from households, restaurants, supermarkets and food processors jumped 94 percent in the same period, from 35,000 cubic yards in 2006 to 68,000 in 2008, in large part due to Ohio EPA's Ohio Food Scraps Recovery Initiative.

"Unlike landfilling or incineration, composting recycles resources so they can be used in a more sustainable manner," Michel said. "It's a complex process, however, and requires knowledgeable operators who can manage the potential impacts of composting, such as odors and site runoff and contaminants, and who understand how to generate compost products that are most beneficial to the environment."

Registration costs $175 for members of the Organics Recycling Association of Ohio and $225 for non-members and is limited to 25. Materials, lunches and continental breakfasts are included.

Download a registration form at or contact Mary Wicks, (330) 202-3533, wicks.14@, to receive one in the mail or for more information. E-mail director@ohio to join ORAO and receive the registration discount.

Hours are 8:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m. March 29 and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. March 30 in OARDC's Shisler Conference Center, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster.

Continuing education units are available: 13 hours in Ohio EPA waste water certification and 11 hours for registered sanitarians.

The course is being sponsored by Ohio EPA's Environmental Education Fund.



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