Marketing on-farm compost for sustainability and economic viability

Project Overview

LNE09-280
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $43,258.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Grant Recipient: Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Athena Bradley
Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

Annual Reports

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: manure management, pasture fertility
  • Crop Production: municipal wastes, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, technical assistance, workshop
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, budgets/cost and returns, e-commerce, market study, marketing management, new enterprise development, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: compost extracts
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Abstract – Marketing On-farm Compost for Sustainability & Economic ViabilityFarmers often compost for on-farm use, however selling the product off-farm presents challenges that comparatively few have successfully navigated. Regulatory requirements and marketing needs are just a few of the barriers that farmers face. Demand for compost products is on the rise, presenting a viable value-added product for farmers. The Northeast has relatively few non-farm compost operations, presenting farmers with the opportunity to earn income through fees for accepting materials for composting, as well as selling value-added material into the marketplace. Resources about how to compost abound, however few resources exist to help farmers effectively market the product. This project will provide training and support to a minimum of 80 farmers for the marketing of value-added compost. The Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. (NERC) and project Team Members will provide the tools to help farmers: 1) explore composting as a value-added product to support their current business operation; 2) understand the importance of quality control and compost recipe develop; 3) learn how to acquire the necessary permits to operate and market compost in their state; 4) explore potential feedstocks and pricing structures; 5) develop marketing and sales strategies to effectively meet local and regional demand; and 6) develop and implement a compost marketing plan. This project will provide free field day/workshops (fd/w’s) to beneficiaries, a Compost Marketing Toolkit, technical assistance with developing and implementing compost marketing plans, and verification through questionnaires and direct contact. Of 80 farmers participating in the field day/workshops, 25 will develop compost marketing plans, 15 of which will implement the plans and sell value-added compost products within two years of implementing the marketing plan as measured by increased sales and tipping fees of roughly $36,000 to $56,000 annually for each participating beneficiary.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Milestones and Performance Target

    Milestones
    – Form a Project Team of 19 individuals from four different states to assist in development of the Toolkit, outreach, field day/workshops (fd/w’s) development and implementation, delivery of technical assistance, and project verification. (May 2009 – April 2013)
    – 155 CD copies of Toolkit distributed (80 to fd/w’s participants, 40 to Agricultural Specialists, 35 SARE representatives), and posted on NERC website. (Oct. 2009 – March 2011)
    – At least 500 on-farm composters will be contacted for participation in fd/w’s. (September 2009 – March 2011)
    – 80 beneficiary farmers will gain knowledge and skills in compost marketing by participating in fd/w’s and receiving the Toolkit. Beneficiaries will complete a questionnaire and be offered individual assistance to develop and implement a compost marketing plan. (Oct. 2009 – March 2011)
    – 25 beneficiaries will ask for and be provided assistance in developing and implementing a compost marketing plan, including two on-farm consultations each. (Jan. 2010 – March 2012)
    – Follow-up verification with (25) technical assistance beneficiaries and 10 case studies written documenting successfully implemented compost marketing plans. The case studies will be incorporated into an updated Toolkit. Revised toolkit will be mailed to SARE representatives and others upon request. (March 2012 – April 2013)

    Performance Target: Of 80 farmers participating in the field day/workshops, 25 will develop compost marketing plans, 15 of which will implement the plans and sell value-added compost products within two years of implementing the marketing plan as measured by increased sales and tipping fees of roughly $36,000 to $56,000 annually for each participating beneficiary.
    Project Duration: 4 years.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.