Implementing the Use of Compost in Agriculture, Turf, Landscaping and for Erosion Control

Jean F. Bonhotal and Mary Schwarz
Cornell Waste Management Institute, Soil and Crop Sciences Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University

Over the years, we have been adding less organic material to soil; applications of compost on roadsides will control erosion and establish vegetation in local highway projects, as well as improve yield, suppress disease and improve water-holding capacity in soils. It is important to cycle organic residuals back into the soil system as would occur in an undisturbed system. Cornell Waste Management Institute is running a project to demonstrate and disseminate information to increase compost use through demonstration projects that enhance local, municipal and farm compost use, knowledge, experience and practices using locally manufactured compost products. Compost use posters from this project can be found at

Compost application on Soybean Field: Seventy-five cubic yards of compost was spread on a 2 acre plot and planted with soybeans 4 days later. Five weeks after planting, soybeans in the test plot with compost were 34”, while those in plots with no compost were 28”. At harvest, the plot with compost yielded 40.1 bushels/acre compared to 32.7 bushels/acre without compost.

Compost application for sediment and erosion control: The use of compost socks reduce sediment, fertilizers, chemicals, metals and other pollutants from reaching surface water by acting as a filter. Compost spread on slopes keeps seeds in place, offers a higher rate of plant germination and establishment and protects the soil from erosion.

April 19, 2017: Vegetation holds soil in place
Nov 8, 2016: Socks installed, compost spread
May 24, 2017: Socks capture sediment after heavy rains
May 24, 2017: Good vegetative growth on slope
Compost socks to restore an undercut bank


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