What is compost?

Compost is simply just organic matter that’s been broken down into a stabilized form, to provide nutrients as a fertilizer to soils.

Good compost is really high in organic matter. Organic matter is the broken-down material – a lot of carbon…can consist of humic matter that is good for soils, and it’s good because it does a few things – one is: high organic matter holds water really well.

Good organic matter also holds nutrients better. So, when you add nutrients whether they’re in the compost, or you add them as a fertilizer – especially in mineralized form – those nutrients will be held by the compost – by the humic matter in the organic matter, in the compost – so that it’s available when the plant needs it. It won’t be as easily leached out by watering or by rain.

2 replies
  1. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    How is compost anything but organic? You put the term organic in front of it so you can charge more for the same thing.

    • Michelle Knuth
      Michelle Knuth says:

      Hi Lauren,
      Thank you for checking out our website and video content, and thanks for the great question. This is an answer that is probably helpful to a lot of interested consumers about the necessity, purpose, or value of the “organic” label.

      To a certain extent, you are correct: most compost – if it truly is compost – is what we call “lower case ‘o’ organic” – meaning it is made from natural, carbon-based ingredients like plants or manure. We, too, have seen some other companies and products on the market that refer to their compost as “organic compost”, perhaps to – as you say – be able to charge more, but are nothing other than compost – and of varying quality.

      When Purple Cow Organics refers to its compost products as Organic (conversely, we use the phrase “capital “O” Organic” to describe Purple Cow products) we are referring to products that are approved for use in USDA Certified Organic production and/or OMRI Listed for Organic Use. The process in which we craft the aerobically-made compost – taking into account time, temperature, turning – is highly standardized to insure quality and consistency every time.

      Unlike food, which gets the designation “USDA Certified Organic”, products like compost that are used in organic production need to be approved by a certifier. Having a product OMRI Listed allows certifiers and growers expedite the approval process for those products. OMRI is the Organic Materials Review Institute, which is a private, nonprofit organization that does independent vetting of products to make sure they are approved for organic production. Our composting process and compost products are subject to one of the most stringent vetting processes to insure consistency, quality, safety, and sustainability. You can see a list of approved (OMRI Listed) products at http://www.OMRI.org.
      Purple Cow compost not only meets, but exceeds the standards set forth by OMRI and the US Compost Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance (USCC-STA) in terms of maturity, quality, consistency, growing emergence and vigor, particle size, etc.
      OMRI is the organization that we use for pre-approval, but there are others including NOP (https://www.ams.usda.gov/about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program)
      Thanks again for the question!

      Ryan Hartberg

      Director of Sales & Marketing | Purple Cow Organics

      Office: 608.831.0349 | Mobile: 608.358.6894
      3213 Laura Lane, Middleton, WI 53562


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