Economic and Environmental effects of Compost use for Sustainable Vegetable Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $153,969.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
Greg Evanylo
Virginia Tech

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: rye
  • Vegetables: sweet corn, tomatoes


  • Animal Production: manure management
  • Crop Production: cover crops, municipal wastes, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health


    A comparison of the agronomic, economic and environmental effects of compost, poultry litter, and inorganic fertilizers on three organic farms demonstrated that soil chemical and physical properties were improved with agronomic rates of compost compared with low rates of compost, poultry litter or fertilizer. Accurately estimating nitrogen availability, not the source of nitrogen, was most critical to preventing groundwater contamination by nitrate-N and increasing yields.

    Project objectives:

    The goals described above will be achieved by assessing the effects of compost, manure, and fertilizer on:
    1. soil biological, chemical and physical properties indicative of soil quality;
    2. nutrient leaching and runoff;
    3. Average yield levels, net economic returns, and the variability of both yield and net economic returns over multiple production periods.

    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.