New grant funds study of compost

The Universal Recycling Law, passed in 2012, will soon ban the disposal of all recyclables.

This includes metal, glass, plastics and paper/cardboard. It will ban disposal of leaf and yard debris and clean wood by July 1, 2016, and food scraps by July 1, 2020.

“There are risks of water pollution from too much compost applied in the wrong places,” according to a press release by Joshua E. Brown.

Professor Stephanie Hurley of UVM’s Plant and Soil Science Department received a $20,000 grant from the State of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation. The grant will allow her and two of her doctoral students to study nutrient leaching from compost.

The doctoral students are Amanda Cording and Paliza Shrestha. There are some specific concerns that Hurley and others have about the possibility of leaching through the compost, into Vermont’s main body of water.

“Leaching or production of nutrients from any source, waste water, storm water, agriculture should be carefully considered in light of Lake Champlain’s well-documented nutrient pollution problems,” Hurley said.

She was asked about the effects that the law would have on UVM. Hurley said that she believes UVM should continue to compost.

“The only issue our research is concerned with is whether the compost produced in Vermont should be applied in wet areas like shorelines, riparian areas and storm water treatment landscapes,” she aid.

Hurley said that she is only concerned with the appropriate uses of the available compost.

The grant that Hurley and her students have received will fund the research for their very specific concerns that will result from the law.

“The grant will help to make recommendations of some examples where compost should and should not be used,” she said.

“Our analysis is not complete, but our hypothesis is that compost applied to the land in wetter areas would be more prone to nutrient leaching than compost applied in drier areas,” Hurley said.